Saturday, August 31, 2013

Perspective on Kansas

One truth imprinted on my mind with great force by my 15-state speaking tour, completed a day and a half ago with a 900 miles drive home from Jackson, Wyoming, is that God gave Americans a spectacularly beautiful country.  (Though we have messed it up, in too many places, with metastasizing strip malls and homogenous agriculture -- couldn't we leave a sizable chunk of the Midwest in its natural state?)  I'll be posting photos of scenes that particularly captured my eye, occasionally over the next few weeks, with a few words of explanation. 

My first glimpse of Kansas reinforced this impression, somewhat to my surprise.  I didn't have time to visit the grasslands preserved in central Kansas.  But in morning mists, the rolling hills along Highway 70, with woods in the valleys, were quite lovely.  How beautiful these grasslands must have been, when dozens of grasses and then wild flowers besides, spread in all directions, with bison, pronghorns, plains grizzly bears, going back further American camels, horses, giant sloths, mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and American cheetahs, roamed the plains unimpeded by barbed wire. along with smaller animals. 

Wishing I could have driven 50 miles south to the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve, I spied an exit off the freeway for "Tall Grass Road," or something like that.  It appeared to be an empty dirt road, and I parked on the side of the road, and stretched my legs walking towards a farm house, taking pictures along the way.  After less than half a mile, and many photos, a police car pulled up and ask if it was my vehicle parked "in the road."  Well, OK, maybe I could have pulled over a little further. 

Anyway, here's one of those photographs.  I was especially impressed by this tall white flower, which I tried to take a close-up of but that turned out blurry.  I have no idea what it is.   


Marc said...

Hello David,

I never was in the united states, during my whole life the only part of America I know is the French-speaking Quebec.

I greatly enjoy hiking and wandering over lake, forests, hills and mountains and the description you give makes me dream.

Were you also often in Europe, and if so in what regions?

Like my parents and quite a few continental Europeans, I kind of fear the States due to the fact weapons are completely free for everyone. Well such a fear is probably groundless and can be traced back to our prejudices.

Does the sight of such landscapes spawn some theological or philosophical thoughts in your mind?

Otherwise, do you have an email address where it is possible to contact you to discuss more scholarly issues about Jesus and the evolution of religion? I've searched with Google but couldn't find one.

If you would have time to correspond with me but are unwilling to let your email address, you can write me directly at:

I hope not to bother you, but among conservative Christians, you're almost the only one who has dive deeply into the way evolutionary psychologists explain away belief in God, that's what I would find a short exchange with you extremely interesting, provided of you course you currently have time for that.

Lovely greetings from Europe.

Lothar’s son – Lothars Sohn

Lovely greetings from Europe.

David B Marshall said...

Lothar: I'll answer about geography here, since that's the subject of the photo, and then e-mail you about the other stuff.

Where in Europe are you from, again? I've spent a good amount of time in the UK, but also visited (a long time ago, by train) France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy, and more recently, by car, Iceland. So I haven't been too many places: lots more in Asia.

My brother has been a cop for some 30 years, and has only fired his gun in the line of duty once, when a vicious dog attacked him earlier this year. I don't think I've personally heard a gun fired in anger, except during the riots in New Delhi, India, in 1984. So if you keep out of bad neighborhoods and bars and gang fights over crack cocaine, and don't bring an angry, vengeful spouse with you, your chances of surviving a trip to the US are generally pretty good, I think. (At least when it comes to murder: a semi truck did almost run into me on the last day of this trip.)

As far as inspiration to theology, yes they often do. I love the mountains, they give me peace, and they are where I can think and maybe talk to God best. As C.S. Lewis said, Nature itself is enigmatic: it teaches us the language of grandeur, but it is also full of dangers for humans that we call evils. I don't think I've ever been in a place on Earth that was not originally of great beauty, whatever we've done to it since. And yet, I was afraid to walk through the woods in some states, because deer ticks carry Lyme Disease. One cannot really blame that on Adam and Eve, since ticks and bacteria have been on the planet for millions of years, causing trouble.

So Nature inspires me spiritually, but it also inspires theological questioning to which I see no obvious resolution. Maybe that's OK, though -- no one promised that I would have all the answers.