Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: Jack Miner

Fast food Christianity

We are told, and it is obvious if we are paying attention, that there is a great decline in Bible knowledge among evangelical Christians who claim their faith is built upon the Word of God. What is the cause?

Jack Miner told of an elderly Scot who said, “In my day children were raised on the Bible and oatmeal porridge, today they are being raised on the Eaton’s catalogue and corn flakes.” Then pounding the podium, he said “I tell you folks, it can’t be done!”

Leaving aside the fact that I was allergic to oatmeal (I broke out in hives) and that the Eaton’s catalogue is long gone, this anecdote does reveal that there once was a time when it was believed that children were not too tender or dull to be exposed to the Bible just as it is.

My observation, as an old-timer, is that the decline in Bible knowledge is a direct result of the tools we are using to enhance our Bible knowledge. I am thinking primarily of children’s Bible story book, study Bibles, and Bible reading plans that lead one hither and yon in search of interesting elements of Scripture, but never allow one to get the whole picture.

We have advanced so far in this that readers are likely to dismiss such ideas as the incoherent rumblings of an old curmudgeon. Perhaps I am somewhat of a curmudgeon, but consider the evidence before you reject what I am saying.

What could be more innocent than a Bible story book? Look at the stories closely and you will see that each one is told to teach a moral lesson. Sometimes this requires some editorial tweaking by the writer. And sometimes the moral is altogether different from what you will find if you read the full account in context in the Bible.

I will examine some of the more egregious examples of this in future posts. But the overall effect of Bible story books is to create a kind of pseudo-Christianity that is described as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This is the thought that God has given us the Bible to teach us how to live moral and upright lives and to teach us to feel good about ourselves. That may not sound so bad, but years ago people believed the Bible existed to help us know God. That is what I still believe.

Study Bibles are like the fast food restaurants who used to advertise “Don’t cook tonight, Call Chicken Delight!” or “Colonel Sanders makes it finger-lickin’ good, with his secret blend of herbs and spices.” If you don’t think reference Bibles have their secret blend of herbs and spices, I don’t think you’re paying attention.

That’s enough for an introduction. Stand by for more rumblings in future posts.

Father Goose

I was working outside this afternoon, putting our water hoses away for the season and listening to the chatter of Canada geese from a pond about a half mile away.  I couldn’t see the pond from ground level, there is a railway line between here and there that is built up high enough to block the view.  When a flock of a hundred or more took off, I thought that was probably all there was.

A minute or two later there was a thunderous roar as at least 500 geese lifted off.  After that, I could still hear the sound of geese from the pond.  Then another flock of a hundred or so left and a little later another group the same size.  Finally about fifty more took off and then all was quiet.  They will go and glean in the harvested fields around here and probably return to the pond for the night.

Jack Miner had a very high regard for the Canada Geese, they mate for life and the gander is an exemplary father.  In 1907 one old goose at his bird sanctuary became too weak to sit on her nest so Jack Miner and several other men fought off the gander , who he had named Jack Johnson because he would fight anything that threatened his mate and nest.  They took the eggs and gave them to a Plymouth Rock hen to hatch.  All six eggs hatched and the goslings accepted the little black and white hen as their mother.  When they were five weeks old, Jack Miner led them to one of the ponds and left them there.

“But I hadn’t got five rods away before my whole body and nerves were all shaking at seeing and hearing old Jack Johnson coming from the north pond, flapping and honking like a creature that had gone completely mad.  I turned and ran back, fearing he would kill every one.  But he beat me there and thank God he did.  For instead of killing them as I feared he might, when he got within about six feet of them he stopped, and with his head and neck straight in the air, his beautiful chest just heaved, and I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that his honks could have been heard a mile and a half.  What he said I don’t know, but each gosling lay flat on the ground and he put his head on each, apparently caressing and loving them.  In turn each got up and flapped its baby wings.”

The old sick goose heard the call and staggered over the bank of the pond as fast as she could, with Jack Johnson running back and forth between her and the goslings as she came.

“I don’t want any reader to ask how it was that this old pair of beauties knew their young.  I only know they did know them; that is all.  There I stood, bare-headed and bare footed at the most beautiful time of the day.  The whole earth seemed to be transformed into a rainbow of God’s love, with both ends pouring out upon this one spot; for to see this dear old, broken-hearted father and their sick mother united and knowing their six loved ones which they had never seen, or, in other words, standing and witnessing the reunion of this broken family, caused my brain to fairly whirl in thought, until I melted down, like a little child.

“Finally, the eight of them all started for the north pond.  But Jack looked and saw the hen following; so he just stepped back and gave her one blow with his stub wing which sent her moulting and screaming with terror toward the chicken house. . . . The goslings came back after their step-mother, Jack following them.  I succeeded in coaxing her out and he saw her family salute and caress her, as they uttered volumes of baby talk, apparently expressing their sympathy.  The old gander never touched her afterwards, and the hen lived out at the pond with the eight geese until the snow drove her in.  No other fowl on the premises dared venture near her, for the gander guarded her as one of his family from then on.”

[Excerpted from Jack Miner and the Birds, by Jack Miner.  Copyright 1923 by the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation.]

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