The cover of Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson looks like something my mom would read, but it’s Little House on the Prairie with a plot and girl power. 16-year-old Hattie is an orphan who inherits her uncle’s homestead in 1917 Montana and works to prove the claim on her own. The timeframe puts the story in the middle of World War I and anti-German sentiment is brewing on the prairie.
It’s a simple story that weaves together several complex threads to make a satisfying whole that focuses on faith, country and the power of what you can do when you have the strength of friendship.
The anti-German fury is disappointing, but the historical reality is that we have a long track record of demonizing our enemy by persecuting our neighbors. It’s maddening and you’d think a country of immigrants would learn. But we don’t.
The homestead details are very reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder, except of course it takes place nearly 50 years later, which gives an interesting insight into the Montana homestead experience. It also features a strong and young woman striking out on her own, which was based on a true story.
It’s a solid story that gives a full impression of a place and time, not leaving out the cold, hard realities.
Last night I witnessed the return of Five Iron Frenzy to the stage. The late ’90s/early ’00s ska band played their first show in Minneapolis in nearly 10 years. The band called it quits in 2003 but came back in 2011 thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $200,000 to record a new album. Since then they’ve been touring and recording said album, which is set to release in November.
Five Iron Frenzy was the favorite band of my youth, the soundtrack to my high school and college years. They’re still one of my all-time favorite bands (I say that for the sake of clarification—Petra was another favorite band of my youth; not so much anymore). I reflected on what Five Iron has meant to me before, both before and after their 2003 show in Minneapolis.
I spent my youth rocking out to Five Iron: Singing along in the car, learning to skank at concerts, laughing at their hilarity and feeling anger at injustice right along with them. I went to every concert I could, probably a dozen between Detroit and Minneapolis. I interviewed various members of the band nearly half a dozen times. I wrote a lengthy, self-indulgent article chronicling the band’s history back in 2003, which was mostly a form of personal therapy.
We’ve got some history.
So the concert last night was quite an experience. First off, I don’t go to concerts like I used to. The last concert I went to was U2, and before that I don’t even remember. Probably another U2 concert? We had to get a babysitter. When the opening band started playing I realized I’d forgotten my ear plugs. Needless to say, I was feeling old. Continue reading Five Iron Frenzy Returns to Minneapolis→
Native American pastor Jeff Yellow Owl shares a helpful perspective for the Fourth of July. He recalls attending a church service on July 4 and the pastor spoke about “the great sacrifice of the forefathers who established this country.”
“I was so angry,” Jeff admits. “I felt like a cold knife was plunged through my heart. All I could think of was, what about my forefathers and the blood of my people that has been spilled on this land?”
That’s a sentiment I’ve often felt as church worship strays from Creator to country. The freedom we have in America is worth celebrating, but it becomes dangerous when we whitewash our history in a red, white and blue frenzy. It becomes too easy to swell with pride and forget our failures. That kind of blind celebration becomes a slap in the face to those who endured injustice. As we celebrate our freedom we should remember our failures and steal ourselves to correct current and future failures.
The Fourth of July isn’t just an excuse to blow stuff up. It’s a chance to celebrate and move forward, towards a more perfect Union.
Jeff Yellow Owl eventually found the strength to do just that:
But forgiving the past was “a process and didn’t happen all at once,” he says. “That kind of forgiveness has to be supernatural.” …
He prayed: “I want to be healed from my anger. I don’t want this feeling in my heart anymore.”
We depend on one another. We depend on our armed forces to keep us safe. We depend on family and friends for love, sanity and good times. We depend on employers and clients and customers for our paychecks and livelihood.
The loner is the great American archetype. Personal freedom, personal responsibility, personal choice seems to be our national mantra. It’s so often about me, myself and I. The consumerism that drives our capitalism is all about self.
But independence was only achieved by depending on one another. Freedom is not about selfish gain but what we can have and achieve together. Right now Iranians are flexing their democratic muscle by relying on one another. No man is an island.
So Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman said Barack Obama may be anti-American on Friday and suggested that other members of Congress were anti-American and should be investigated (now she’s blaming Chris Matthews for trapping her).
Then we have Sarah Palin talking about how much she enjoys visiting the “pro-American” parts of America. She too has quickly back tracked and acknowledges that all of America is pro-American.
And now John McCain is saying Western Pennsylvania is the “most God-loving, most patriotic part of the country.” I never knew we even had a God-lovin’ patriot contest.
So much of this is just politics and pandering to locale. It all reeks of who’s wearing a flag pin.
I appreciate how Barack Obama responded during his speech in Tampa Bay, Fla. yesterday:
There are no real or fake parts of this country. We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this nation—we all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women from Florida and all across America who serve on our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America—they have served the United States of America.
We have always been at our best when we’ve had leadership that called us to look past our differences and come together as one nation, as one people; leadership that rallied this entire country to a common purpose—to a higher purpose. And I am running for President of the United States of America because that is the country we need to be right now.
You can hear the audio on NPR (starts about 2:40). I couldn’t find the report I actually heard which had better audio, and I’d love to see the video.
“It bothers me to know there is the possibility that I as a Christian would be not only an underdog, but that I would be trodden upon if I claimed that I was a Christian.”
Maybe I shouldn’t nitpick Greenwood’s statements, but he seems to be expressing a fear of persecution. Get used it, Greenwood. You’re a Christian. It’ll happen. You are an underdog. You should be trodden upon. That’s the whole nature of our faith. We are beaten down, we are losers, we are illegitimate.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10, NIV)
It kind of gets to me when Christians think we live in a Christian nation are are therefore free from any trouble, any hardship, any difficulty. That’s false security.
A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.