When giving directions in the Ozarks, never use ‘the Baptist church’ as a landmark

“You seem awfully angry for someone with such a promising afterlife.”

a comment seen on social media this morning, responding to the claim that one particular flavor of Christianity is superior to all the others

I don’t broach the subject of religion very often on Ubi Libertas Blog. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, nor do I presume that my readers all are ambivalent on the matter. I simply find it neither interesting generally nor challenging intellectually.

“You gonna come to church with me?” our contractor asked me the other day. It’s been a running thing between us, his requests sincere, his persistence an expression of deeply held Pentecostal faith.

I smiled. “I think that’s unlikely, but I appreciate the invitation.”

“Very straightforward,” he said. “I respect your honesty.” After a pause, he tried again.

“How about a bonfire? If I invited you to a bonfire, would you come?”

Chuckling, I told him about a Country-music artist who’d achieved fame and then lost it all. Now, with purpose he attributes to his faith, he books three kinds of performances — acoustic concert, acoustic concert with testimony, and full-band show with revival. When venues host the guy, they know exactly what they’re getting. Deb and I have seen him a number of times.

Our contractor friend got this puzzled look on his face. “What’s that got to do with a bonfire?”

“Truth-in-advertising,” I said, “I have a sneakin’ suspicion you’re not inviting me to a bonfire.”

There’s no mistaking that Ozarkansas sits squarely on the buckle of The Bible Belt. Evangelical Christianity is the way of things, the inescapable norm, ubiquitous if not necessarily universal.

The culture reflects it, and I celebrate the Liberty of individuals to practice their faith as they choose. Beyond that, in case you’re wondering what I myself believe, you can keep wondering. It’s not something I’m compelled to share.

What I will say is that in my younger years, on trips home from college (where I majored in religion) I’d often stop to visit a farmer friend, a man about my father’s age. We’d kick clods, plink at tin cans with our .22s and talk about everything under the sun. I recall one day asking him if he attended church.

He raised a calloused hand and swept it in an arc in front of us, the gesture calling attention to the field he’d just planted and the woods he hunted.

“This is my church,” he said softly. “This is where I find my God. I don’t need a building, I don’t need an interpreter and I don’t need company.”

Standing on The Mountain the other day, I said those same words to our contractor. He understood, though I suspect it won’t be the last time he invites me to a “bonfire.”

(About today’s headline: Harrison, for example, with a population of 12,000, boasts 18 Baptist churches. There are 16 within ten statute miles of Yellville, population 1,200. So telling someone to “take the first right after the Baptist church” could lead them damned near anywhere.)

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about “World War III.” Right-thinking voices warn about the dangers of NATO (and thereby the US) getting dragged into the Ukraine-Russia conflict and paint a disturbing picture of the global conflagration that surely would follow.

The smartest voices point out the obvious: World War III already is underway. By proxy and in fact, the US is involved. Foreign actors — China and others — are engaged on the side of Russia.

In a way, it reminds me of the caution that America could descend into civil war. Hell, People, we’re already there — it’s just not (yet) a shooting war.

It’s natural to look to the past for “tells.” Knowing what happened then, we’re vigilant for signs that events are repeating in similar fashion. And that’s fine, except that the political, cultural, global and military landscapes don’t look anything like they did in the 1910s or 1930s. Waiting for historical parallels puts us on our heels.

If you’re paying attention, you can see that officials at the highest levels of our own government are asleep. It may be too late — and the US already may be too involved — to avoid devastating losses, both at home and abroad. Expect major ripples, both real and invented, to reach the homeland soon.

The propaganda will make the “pandemic” look like a kindergarten pageant.

There’s nothing for us to do but prepare — keep preparing, that is, like always. Perhaps devote a little more attention to getting ready for commerce in a collapsed global economy, the likes of which we’ve never seen.

Now would be a good time to learn how to shop locally, if you haven’t already. The reasons that’s crucial will become abundantly clear when global ripples are exacerbated by civil unrest. Establish sources for everything you can.

We can’t stop what’s coming. We can’t prevent it and we can’t avoid it. Put your affairs in order.

“The most important thing in this world is liberty. More important than food or clothes — more important than gold or houses or lands — more important than art or science — more important than all religions, is the liberty of man.”

Robert Green Ingersoll, from his appeal to the jury in the trial of a man charged with blasphemy, 1887

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB