Chaos, Collapse & The Most Comforting Doctrine

The way it looks to me, the American empire is in its twilight years. Our civilization is imploding politically, socially, and economically. The handwriting is on the wall: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin,

When King Balshazzar saw that hand writing on the wall in Daniel 5… “The king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.”

The prideful king had taken sacred vessels from the Jewish temple and desecrated them; he “drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.”

“Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.”

God weighed Balshazzar and his kingdom in the balance, and he was found wanting. That was the end of Balshazzar and the Neo-Babylonian empire. Next up, Cyrus the Great and the Persian empire. That was some 2,500 years ago. I can give you the history of the world in four words: Empires rise and fall.

America has become something akin to the Babylonian empire. As a nation, we have profaned God’s law and desecrated the sacred. Biblically-based righteousness, which was once universally respected and protected by our laws has now been soundly rejected by our nation’s leading institutions. Rebellious depravity now reigns under the protection of law. Such a situation begs God’s judgement on the nation.

Now, mind you, I could be totally wrong. I’m not a prophet. The fact of the matter is that God does as He pleases, and it may please Him to ordain a revival of righteousness in this land before He lets us self-destruct. God’s grace and mercy may bring us back from the brink. Grace is, you may recall, getting something you don’t deserve, while mercy is not getting something you do deserve.

Whatever the final outcome, I think it’s safe to say that Americans are in for a rocky ride. We may, figuratively speaking (if not literally), find our knees smoting one against another in the days ahead. And that brings me to the most comforting doctrine of the Christian faith, which is the sovereignty of God.

Many years ago I read, The Sovereignty of God, by A.W. Pink. It is a remarkable book. I keep it by my bedside and read from it often. This excerpt serves to introduce the basic Christian doctrine of the sovereignty of God…

The Sovereignty of God is an expression that once was generally understood. It was a phrase commonly used in religious literature. It was a theme frequently expounded in the pulpit. It was a truth which brought comfort to many hearts, and gave virility and stability to Christian character. But, today, to make mention of God’s Sovereignty is, in many quarters, to speak in an unknown tongue. Were we to announce from the average pulpit that the subject of our discourse would be the Sovereignty of God, it would sound very much as though we had borrowed a phrase from one of the dead languages. Alas! that it should be so. Alas! that the doctrine which is the key to history, the interpreter of Providence, the warp and woof of Scripture, and the foundation of Christian theology should be so sadly neglected and so little understood. The Sovereignty of God. What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Dan. 4:35). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.

A.W. Pink wrote The Sovereignty of God during the chaos of World War 1. Turmoil and uncertainty were on everyone’s minds…

Without a doubt a world-crisis is at hand, and everywhere men are alarmed. But God is not! He is never taken by surprise. It is no unexpected emergency which now confronts Him, for He is the One who “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). Hence, though the world is panic-stricken, the word to the believer is, “Fear not!” “All things” are subject to His immediate control: “all things” are moving in accord with His eternal purpose, and therefore “all things” are “working together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” It must be so, for “of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). Yet how little is this realised today even by the people of God! Many suppose that He is little more than a far-distant Spectator, taking no immediate hand in the affairs of earth. It is true that man is endowed with power, but God is all-powerful. It is true that, speaking generally, the material world is regulated by law, but behind that law is the law-Giver and law-Administrator. Man is but the creature. God is the Creator, and endless ages before man first saw the light “the mighty God” (Isa. 9:6) existed, and ere the world was founded, made His plans; and being infinite in power and man only finite, His purpose and plan cannot be withstood or thwarted by the creatures of His own hands.

Another pertinent excerpt…

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today-God, or the Devil? What saith the Scriptures? If we believe their plain and positive declarations, no room is left for uncertainty. They affirm, again and again, that God is on the throne of the universe; that the sceptre is in His hands; that He is directing all things “after the counsel of His own will.” They affirm, not only that God created all things, but also that God is ruling and reigning over all the works of His hands. They affirm that God is the “Almighty,” that His will is irreversible, that He is absolute Sovereign in every realm of all His vast dominions. And surely it must be so. Only two alternatives are possible: God must either rule, or be ruled; sway, or be swayed; accomplish His own will, or be thwarted by His creatures. Accepting the fact that He is the “Most High,” the only Potentate and King of kings, vested with perfect wisdom and illimitable power, and the conclusion is irresistible that He must be God in fact as well as in name.

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The sovereignty of God is the foundational doctrine of the Christian faith. When properly understood and fully embraced, it brings a soul-deep peace to believers in the midst of personal suffering and societal chaos. It has been one of the calming balms of Christian martyrs down through history. It is a doctrine well worth meditating on.

Here is the fundamental difference between the man of faith and the man of unbelief. The unbeliever is “of the world,” judges everything by worldly standards, views life from the standpoint of time and sense, and weighs everything in the balances of his own carnal making. But the man of faith brings in God, looks at everything from His standpoint, estimates values by spiritual standards, and views life in the light of eternity. Doing this, he receives whatever comes as from the hand of God. Doing this, his heart is calm in the midst of the storm. Doing this, he “rejoices in hope of the glory of God.”

A.W. Pink’s writings are shunned by many evangelicals. He is labeled a “hyper-Calvanist,” Well, call him what you will. Pink certainly did believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. Personally, when it comes to my own doctrinal belief about the extent of God’s sovereignty, I’m with Pink. But it’s not something I care to debate. The doctrine has been debated by people far smarter than I for centuries. I think this old adage applies… “In the essentials, unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

Here’s more from A.W…..

Sovereignty characterizes the whole Being of God. He is Sovereign in all His attributes. He is Sovereign in the exercise of His power. His power is exercised as He wills, when He wills, where He wills. This fact is evidenced on every page of Scripture.

Learn then this basic truth, that the Creator is absolute Sovereign, executing His own will, performing His own pleasure, and considering nought but His own glory. “The LORD hath made all things FOR HIMSELF” (Prov. 16:4). And had He not a perfect right to? Since God is God, who dare challenge His prerogative? To murmur against Him is rank rebellion. To question His ways is to impugn His wisdom. To criticize Him is sin of the deepest dye. Have we forgotten who He is? Behold, “All nations before Him as are nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity.

The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. His government is exercised over inanimate matter, over the brute beasts, over the children of men, over angels good and evil, and over Satan himself. No revolving world, no shining of star, no storm, no creature moves, no actions of men, no errands of angels, no deeds of Devil-nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed. Here is a foundation of faith. Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or Devil, but the Lord Almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for His own eternal glory

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, the words of A.W. Pink that I’ve shared here have resonated with you. The full reality of God’s sovereign control over His creation should encourage you greatly in the midst of life’s personal hardships and the world’s troubles.

In the final analysis, our lives are not ours to do as we please with. We live to serve our King. It’s not about us. It’s about Him. When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in Luke 11, he said: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…”

How often do Christians pray that God’s will be done here on earth? It is more often that we pray for what we want to happen. We prefer that our will be carried out by our sovereign God. But it doesn’t work that way.

So it is that God, the almighty sovereign that He is, will do as He pleases for His own good purposes. And we can rest assured that nothing happens that is not part of his sovereign, providential orchestrations.

That being the case, our responsibility as sons and daughters of the Most High God is to do what we have been instructed to do in scripture, regardless of civilizational chaos and possible collapse… That is, to be obedient to His leading. To pursue holiness. To do battle daily against our own sinful natures. To think and act in ways that are pleasing in God’s sight. To choose wisdom over foolishness. To bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ by our attitudes and actions. To pray without ceasing. In short, to play our part in history (His story) well.

Most Christians throughout history have done this by living simple, quiet lives. That is, in fact, what the Apostle Paul instructed 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12…

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

There you have it. The most comforting doctrine for Christians is the sovereignty of God. He is in control. Nothing happens outside of His ordained will. Perhaps civilizational collapse is part of His plan for America, along with economic depression, and Marxist Revolutionary takeover. It could get bad. Real bad. Or maybe it won’t. I sure don’t know. Whatever happens, it will, in the sovereign plans of God Almighty, serve His higher purposes. I’m okay with that.

I’m okay with that because, in part, as a follower of Jesus, I have God’s promise in the midst of any difficulty. The promise is that He will never leave or forsake His people. No matter how difficult life might get, God gives His children the grace to endure to the end. Knowing this, we can run the race He has set before us with patience (Hebrews 12) and we have the same hope of eternity; the joy that was set before Jesus as he endured the cross; when he played his part in God’s sovereign plan of redemption.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you”

Deuteronomy 31:6

I will leave you with one last bible verse. King David was well aware of the sovereignity of God when he dedicated the Temple in 1 Chronicles, Chapter 29…

Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

Balshazzar gets the message.

I’m Still Alive, And Kicking…

My granddaughter, with a wondering look.

Long time, no blog post. This summer has been a blur. All work and no play. I’m a dull boy. Time to catch up here…

Business Has Been Good

Making hay in Nova Scotia, circa 1960

My mail order business has been all-consuming for the past several months. It’s totally unprecedented. I’ve been putting in 80+ hours a week trying to keep ahead of orders. Making hay while the sun shines. I actually worked myself sick a month or so back. Stress-induced gastritis. A most unpleasant experience.

Thus, Marlene started getting much more involved with helping me process orders. That made a big difference. The business became more manageable, but still so time consuming.

I am of an age where I contemplate my demise often. I have been concerned that if something happened to me, Marlene would not be able to keep the business going. So it is a good thing that she has become more involved in the daily processes.

The business must continue because the income is needed. I have friends from high school who are now retiring from their careers and the work world. They do not need to earn money any more. That is not an option for me. But I’m not complaining. I love having a home business. I love to be busy. I love to generate income with my mind and the work of my hands.

However, I have decided to downscale; to stop making and selling certain things. Whizbang chicken plucker parts primarily. At the rate that those parts were selling in recent past years, I figured I had a 3 or 4 year supply going into 2020. Well, the parts are pretty much all gone now. That’s how busy 2020 has been.

We will focus primarily on selling Poultry Shrink Bags. I will also continue to sell my plan books and a few smaller things that don’t require a lot of space to manufacture and store. (check out Planet Whizbang sometime, if you haven’t already).

By eliminating certain products I hope to free up some time in the summers. I need to find the sweet spot, so to speak— to find a better balance between income-producing work and other things in life.

God willing, I’ll keep operating this home business for another 12 years. I’ll be 75 in 12 years. Then I’m going to find a sparsely populated ocean beach somewhere and take a long summer vacation. I’m going to sit in the sun, read historical biographies, and write blog posts. That’s what I tell Marlene. She likes the sound of it, but she will believe it when she sees it.

When mail orders slow down in the coming winter months, I’ll be making my Classic American Clothespins (another product I will soon stop selling), listing estate sale finds on Ebay (my hobby), and hopefully making some more YouTube videos.

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More Kimball Grandbabies

My new grandson at 7 months

Marlene and I have been blessed with two more grandchildren in 2020. The little boy above is grandchild #3. Grandchild #4, a girl, was born two weeks ago…

Grandchild #2 (17 months old ) holding grandchild #4 (newborn).

These three young grandchildren all live nearby. Grandchild #1, a.k.a. Futureman, lives in Ohio with his mother. We have not seen him at all this year. 😕

The above picture shows Marlene and I with our three sons, their wives, and two of our grandchildren. It was taken at a baby shower last month.

If you have been a long-time reader of my blog writings, you may be shocked to see my sons all grown up. Back in the day, when I was actively blogging at The Deliberate Agrarian, they were cute little kids. For example, the picture below, showing James and Robert, was taken in 2006 at the NY Trappers Convention (old blog post HERE).

Aspiring Trappers back in 2006

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It’s An Election Year, Dontcha Know?

Victor Davis Hanson is a down-to-earth, conservative intellectual. I reviewed his book, The other Greeks, back in 2010, and have quoted him in other past blog posts. These days I listen to his interviews on YouTube. Professor Hanson said the above quote in a recent interview. I made the image above to post on my private Facebook page. I think it sums up the political situation we are in, and the options we have.

I read recently that many conservatives are afraid to express what they really think about Donald Trump. Well, I’m not one of them. I like the man. He is a political outsider. He is a disruptor. He is a warrior. He’s a straight shooter. And, yes, he’s a paradox. Winston Churchill’s quote comes to mind: “…a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” And delightfully so.

Some readers will, no doubt, disagree with my opinion. I have no problem with that. Stark Young’s quote comes to mind: “It is not necessary to make men, foolish or serious, agree with me, no matter what the principle is. They may have different faculties.”

Regardless of who wins the next presidential election, I can’t help but think that America has hit the iceberg, if you know what I mean. I try not to think about it too much.

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The Ice Cream of My Dream

This is an absolutely true story…

On July 9, 2020, at a few seconds before 5:18 in the morning, I dreamed that I was at an ice cream stand. A person ahead of me in line got their ice cream cone and I asked them what kind of ice cream it was.

The person told me that it was Grunt Jumpie. I said to the person, “Grunt Jumpie?” And they replied, “Yeah, Grunt Jumpie.”

In my dream I realized that I needed to remember that name because it was so strange and unusual. And if I didn’t wake up and write it down I would never remember it. So I woke up, reached over to my iPhone, and sent an e-mail to myself with the title, “Grunt Jumpie.”

Is that crazy, or what?

If I had an ice cream stand, I would rename every ice cream flavor. They would have zany, whimsical names, like Grunt Jumpie. In parenthesis, next to the name, I would have the more common flavor. I think that would be fun.

“I’ll have a large Grunt Jumpie, please.”

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Summer 2020

My Home Invasion Close Call

As noted in my previous post, I’m almost totally consumed with keeping up with my Planet Whizbang mail order business these days. And I am growing weary of it. But I’m not complaining. I’ve experienced some very lean financial times in past years. It’s all good.

There is a lot of monotony to answering emails and packaging orders all day every day, but life got real exciting for a couple hours here last week. I posted the following story to my local town’s Facebook group a few days ago, with the above photo, and the title, “Oh What A Night”….

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It started at around 9:45 last night. I was lying in bed upstairs watching a YouTube clip on my phone. My wife was downstairs, reclining on the couch, reading a book. All of a sudden, I heard her yell out my name with a tone of fear and urgency like I’ve never heard in our 40 years of marriage.

I was out of bed in an instant. I yelled, “WHAT’S WRONG?” as I headed for the stairs. I thought the house was on fire. She yelled back that someone opened the sliding screen on the back patio door.

I reached for my closest gun, a Ruger 9mm. I chambered a round and flipped the safety off as she was starting up the stairs.

Keep in mind that it is pitch black outdoors and we live on a rural road. No streetlights. No close neighbors.

My wife was totally freaked out. I told her to get the shotgun as I listened to hear any sounds from downstairs. Seconds later I put the handgun down, chambered a round in the pre-loaded shotgun, and flipped the safety off. Double-O buckshot is far better for home defense than 9mm.

I’m fanatical about locking our doors, even during the day when we’re in our house. I had locked all the doors before going upstairs. I asked my wife if she had unlocked the door. She said no. The patio door was locked. But she heard the familiar sound of the screen door slowly sliding open. She was startled, looked around, and saw the figure of a human on the other side of the glass. That’s when she yelled.

So, we were upstairs and I flipped on our outdoor floodlights. The entire perimeter of our house was illuminated. We started looking out the windows. My wife says, “There’s a person out there!”

I go to the window she’s lookin out and a person has come out from around the back corner of our house, into the light. It looks like an older teen boy with a baseball hat. We open the window. The person is talking to us incoherently. I realize it’s a young woman.

“What do you want?” I ask her. She doesn’t answer my question. She says, “I think my father lives here.” I tell her that her father doesn’t live here. We ask more questions: What is your father’s name? What is your name? How did you get here? She answers none of our questions. She talks about her father. She says repeatedly that God told her to come to our house.

My wife backs off and calls 911 while I’m still talking to the woman from the upstairs window. Finally, the woman says something that I can understand. She tells me her truck ran out of gas up the road and she needs help. I tell her that she needs to go back to her vehicle and we will get her some help. She says, “Okay. Thank you,” and walks away.

We leave the floodlights on and wait. About 10 minutes later a Trooper comes up the road and pulls up behind the truck. Minutes later, a sheriff deputy shows up. We watch, trying to see and figure out what’s going on.

Time passes. I see one of the cops walking down to our house with a flashlight. I go out to meet him. He’s wondering if I might have a gas can he can borrow to get some gas for the woman. I tell him I’ve got gas in the can and she can have it.

But it turns out that my gas can is practically empty! There is maybe an inch in the bottom. It might be enough to get her to the gas station in Moravia, 6 miles away.

The deputy tells me the woman is homeless, she is from out of state, and she is lost. There might have been other issues, but he didn’t elaborate. They wanted to get gas in her truck, then get her to a shelter in the city for the night, then someone could help her in the morning.

The Trooper tells me he’s going to buy her $10 worth of gas in Moravia. I had a crumpled $20 bill in my pocket and handed it to him to help get the gas. He wouldn’t take the money.

There might have been a quart of gas in my can. Her truck started right up, and they headed off. I hope they got to the gas station, and that the woman is going to be okay.

All’s well that ends well, but it was an unsettling experience. In the final analysis, I’m very thankful for law enforcement who will come and help in situations like we had last night!

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Thus far that Facebook post has 52 comments and 274 emoticon “reactions.” Here are a few of the comments…

I worked the overnight at the apple. They did get her to the gas station, she put the $20 in her tank, I gave her a cup of coffee, and the 2 officers sent her in the direction of Cortland for the night.

White Chevy with stickers on the back? She paid us a visit yesterday. She was sitting down on my neighbors dock for a while on Owasco Lake, then she left around 8:30ish

Very scary story, glad all ended well. Lesson learned, don’t try to enter the Kimball home without their permission!!👍 I too keep arms near by just for situations like this. Unfortunately times have changed. My parents never locked their doors. My mom did after dad passed.

God sent her. And I can definitely see Marlene Kimball get the shotgun. You go girl. Scary as it was maybe she needs more than gas from you. After all, she went to her “Fathers” house.

My reply to the above quote…

If it were daylight, if I saw her coming, if she knocked on the entrance door, if I knew for sure she was alone, and if she was able to speak more sensibly, I would have felt like God wanted me to just help her and not call the police. It was not a comfortable context. The woman needs prayer, and I’m on that. God bless her!

As I read this and everyone’s comments my thoughts went to thank God that we live in a time where we can still own firearms and have helpful policing. Very grateful that you and your family practice that right. One other thought that I had as well was I’m thankful we still can pick up the phone as Marlene did and call and have help arrive soon. All I can say is this proves we need to continue as a nation to pray for government and those making those choices for us.

I’m glad everyone is okay. Sorry you had such a frightening experience. The state police once told me that we’re “pretty much on your own at the south end of the county.”

Guess I’ll be putting up my security camera again. Whatever the circumstances, if this person is indeed having mental health issues I hope they are being treated properly and with empathy. Whatever the case may be. We are a small town and I am glad I was able to read about this and make sure my safety measures are in place. Everyone be kind and stay safe.

That Facebook page is a real asset to my community. People get in heated debates there often, but the site serves a very positive purpose in many ways. One way is as a “watchdog” forum. If something out of the ordinary happens, it will be on that Facebook page. That’s why I posted my story, and people appreciated it, just as I would appreciate knowing of such an incident if it had happened to one of my neighbors.

But I had another reason for posting the story. It gave me an opportunity to make an important point. My home, located as it is, on a lonely rural road with no neighbors, may look like a soft target for a home invasion, but it is not a soft target.

All things considered, I live in a nice rural community. I’ve been here nearly 50 years. I’m surrounded by longtime friends and family. I expect to finish my heavenstretch here.

Thanks for reading my story. Have you ever had a home invasion close call?

Time for me to get back to work….

Oh, P.S. I neglected to answer comments on my last post and the time deadline for making comments has passed. My apologies. Note to David: The Planet Whizbang hats are sold out. 😦

It’s The Year of The Chicken!

I shouldn’t be writing this. I’ll make it short…

This is the year of the chicken. The Whizbang plucker parts that I have sold so few of for the past few years are once again being purchased. Not to the degree I experienced 10 years ago, but far more than in recent years. The poultry shrink bags I sell are the big mover. This next photo shows one day of mostly-shrink-bag-orders that I delivered to my local post office…

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted a LOT of people to raise their own meat birds, and small, community-based farmers are raising more chickens than they usually do. This is a positive development, for sure.

After many years of mail-order business declines for me, the current spike in demand for my products is a real blessing. But it’s a mixed blessing. I get out to my newly renovated workshop around 6:0o and start processing my orders. Noon rolls around in no time. I make a point of getting the mail to the post office by 3:00. Then I come home and collapse in my recliner. After a short rest, I head back to the shop for “second shift.”

I am making hay while the sun shines. It won’t last. Winter sales are always lean. Most of the hay I make will go into the barn, so to speak, to get me through the lean times ahead. Fat and lean. Fat and lean. That’s how it goes.

Or, as my old friend and former boss, Clancy Edmonds, used to say: “Feast or famine.”

My decision last fall to renovate, expand, and improve my “shop” for inventory storage and processing orders has proven to be perspicacious. In retrospect, I think the prompting I felt for the project was Providential. Here are a couple views of the new space…

The new space is not quite done yet. When it is finished, I’ll make a YouTube video, primarily for my shrink bag customers, showing where their bags come from when they place an order.

The downside to this business busyness is the encroaching ennui. I like to do creative work, but there is little time for that. The orders must be shipped promptly, and they will be. Creative outlets, like making YouTube videos, are on hold, but not totally. I will try to get out a few in the months ahead. If you haven’t yet seen it, this is my most recent video.

I hope that all of you reading this are well and staying active in the midst of these unprecedented times, with virus lockdowns, economic decline, and political turmoil. There is much that I could say about each of those subject categories, but it will have to wait. This is simply a personal update, for anyone who might be interested.

P.S. The me in the photo at the top of this post doesn’t look much like the me now. That picture was taken for an article in FarmShow newspaper. It was circa 2004. That would be 16 years ago. I had a much “fresher” look back then. The aging process is such a humbling reality. 🙂

Frederic Bastiat, On The Dependency of Cities… in 1848

I was introduced to Frederic Bastiat’s classic little book, The Law, back in the 1980s. It is the epitome of clear thinking and clear writing. I believe it should be required reading in all schools.

The following excerpt comes from Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms. It was written in 1848, a year of revolution in France. Bastiat’s observation about the fragility of cities is as true today as it was in 1848 Paris. Likewise, his warning about the suffering caused by arbitrary government.

“On coming to Paris for a visit, I said to myself: Here are a million human beings who would all die in a few days if supplies of all sorts did not flow into this great metropolis. It staggers the imagination to try to comprehend the vast multiplicity of objects that must pass through its gates tomorrow, if its inhabitants are to be preserved from the horrors of famine, insurrection, and pillage. And yet all are sleeping peacefully at this moment, without being disturbed for a single instant by the idea of so frightful a prospect. On the other hand, eighty departments have worked today, without co-operative planning or mutual arrangements, to keep Paris supplied. How does each succeeding day manage to bring to this gigantic market just what is necessary—neither too much nor too little? What, then, is the resourceful and secret power that governs the amazing regularity of such complicated movements, a regularity in which everyone has such implicit faith, although his prosperity and his very life depend upon it? That power is an absolute principle, the principle of free exchange. We put our faith in that inner light which Providence has placed in the hearts of all men, and to which has been entrusted the preservation and the unlimited improvement of our species, a light we term self-interest, which is so illuminating, so constant, and so penetrating, when it is left free of every hindrance. Where would you be, inhabitants of Paris, if some cabinet minister decided to substitute for that power contrivances of his own invention, however superior we might suppose them to be; if he proposed to subject this prodigious mechanism to his supreme direction, to take control of all of it into his own hands, to determine by whom, where, how, and under what conditions everything should be produced, transported, exchanged, and consumed? Although there may be much suffering within your walls, although misery, despair, and perhaps starvation, cause more tears to flow than your warmhearted charity can wipe away, it is probable, I dare say it is certain, that the arbitrary intervention of the government would infinitely multiply this suffering and spread among all of you the ills that now affect only a small number of your fellow citizens.”

Bastiat was an intellectual warrior against the socialism of his day. The Wikipedia entry about the 1848 Revolution (linked above) has the following excerpt (keep in mind that in the preceding year, France suffered an economic depression).

Bastiat, who was one of the most famous political writers of the 1840s, had written countless works concerning the economic situation before 1848, and provided a different explanation of why the French people were forced to rise in the revolt. He believed that the main reasons were primarily the political corruption, along with its very complex system of monopolies, permits, and bureaucracy, which made those who were able to obtain political favors unjustly privileged and able to dictate the market conditions and caused a myriad of businesses to collapse, as well as protectionism which was the basis for the French foreign trade at the time, and which caused businesses along the Atlantic Coast to file for bankruptcy, along with the one owned by Bastiat’s family.

Dependent masses always clamor for the government to “do something!” when an economic crisis comes. But, more often than not, government, through its prior actions, is actually the perpetrator of the crisis.

Historically speaking, government rarely (if ever) fixes anything of a social/economic nature without intruding on individual freedoms and wasting enormous amounts of taxpayer money. Furthermore, government “solutions” nearly always beget more problems. Political favoritism and the “law of unintended consequences” always applies to government actions.

If American government limited itself to its original mandate of defending the life, liberty, and property of it’s citizens, that would be plenty enough. But government, by nature, does not stay within limits. Of course, the Founders understood this. George Washington’s famous quote comes to mind…

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,—it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

With economic recession now upon us, depression looming, unemployment spiking, and a historically unprecedented debt/credit crisis unfolding, it is (once again) worth considering the fragility and vulnerability of our modern, urban dependencies, as well as the radical political foment that so often comes with such times.

For a positive and enduring solution to this problem, I recommend my 2009 New York Times OpEd: The Jeffersonian Solution

“Sometimes You Win. Sometimes You Learn”… Reflections On Investing

My Grandmother’s Bank

I think it was the summer of 1970. I would have been 12 years old. I was visiting my Grandmother Kimball in Fort Fairfield, Maine, for a few weeks. We went downtown so she could do some errands. When we went into the lobby of the bank building you see in the above photo, my grandmother said hello to one of the cashiers and proceeded to walk into a room behind the cashier. It was clearly not a place where customers typically went, and she hadn’t ask permission!

I remember being hesitant and self conscious. I asked my grandmother if she was sure it was okay to go back there. She assured me it was. As I recall, the room had a long table, like it was a meeting room. My grandmother went to a copy machine along one wall and made some copies. Then we left.

Young minds remember the oddest little events. I think I remember that little event because my grandmother went into the bank and helped herself to that copy machine like she owned the place. Only in recent years have I learned that, in a sense, she did own it.

Specifically, she owned 51% of the bank stock. It turns out that my grandfather, Dr. Herrick C. Kimball, who died in 1966, had somehow acquired 51% of the stock. He was also 51% owner of the Rexall drug store on the other side of the street. Perhaps there were other such investments in his community. I’ll never know. But what I do know is that he was a successful and prosperous man who did not come from a successful and prosperous family.

My grandfather’s father, Leverett Gaylon Kimball, was a potato farmer in northern Maine. Leverett died of pneumonia in 1910, at 42 years of age. My grandfather was 8 years old in 1910.

Leverett’s death left his wife, Elizabeth Savage Kimball, with five children to care for, and she was pregnant with a sixth. The baby would be born two months later. It was a boy and Elizabeth named him Leverett Gaylon. But little Leverett would live only five months. Elizabeth never remarried.

My guess is that, after the death of Leverett Sr., Gene, the oldest boy (15 when his father died), with help from neighbors, relatives, and his younger siblings, ran the farm for awhile to support the family. I recall my grandmother telling me that Elizabeth became somewhat of an invalid in her later years.

My grandfather graduated from high school at 16 years of age. He went to Bowdoin College, then to Case Western Reserve Medical School. After getting his medical degree, he returned to his hometown to practice medicine, and he became financially successful.

I think my grandfather’s life story could have been a Horatio Alger book. Perhaps he was inspired by the Horatio Alger “rags-to-riches” novels that were popular in his youth. Poverty can be a big motivator, as can be a sense of responsibility.

I’ve blogged before (HERE) about the savings account passbook above. It shows that my grandfather opened an account for me, his first grandchild and namesake, 12 days after I was born. And he deposited one dollar to start.

One dollar! Was he making a statement for me to see someday? Was there a message in that initial deposit of one dollar? Was it symbolic? Was there a future lesson for me in that? Who opens a savings account with one dollar? Why would a man who owns 51% of the bank open up a savings account with one dollar?

Accounting for inflation, that one dollar is equivalent to $8.93 in today’s dollars. Would you open a savings account for your grandchild these days with an initial deposit of less than ten dollars?

When I was 20 years old my grandmother closed the savings account and sent me the money. It was around $4,000 (which would be equivalent to $15,835.28 in today’s dollars). I invested it all, but not in the conventional kind of investment portfolio.

I used most of the money to buy an August West chimney cleaning system, with which I launched my first business. Then I used some of the money to pay for one year of building trades school at Alfred State College. And I bought a 1/2 ounce gold coin.

I still have the gold coin. I paid $323 for it back around 1980. Today I could easily sell it for $900. Its value has almost (but not quite) paced inflation.

If I had purchased shares of IBM stock (or another such company) back in 1980 I would now have a whole lot more value. IBM shares in 1980 were around $15. Today IBM shares are $120.00. My online inflation calculator tells me that the increase in IBM share value more than doubled the rate of inflation. Better yet, IBM pays a quarterly dividend to share owners.

I like to think that, had he lived long enough, I could have learned some things about investing from my grandfather. But he didn’t, and I didn’t.

My stepfather was a hardworking and responsible man, but he was not successful. He and my mother struggled with their finances all their days. They barely made ends meet, and often didn’t make the ends meet. When I was in high school, I got a part-time job and helped with the bills. Those early family experiences impacted me in a significant way.

Needless to say, my parents were not financially savvy investors. The biggest financial lesson I learned from their example was to avoid debt like the plague. If you have read my blog writings for any length of time, you know I am profoundly debt averse. That conviction has served me well. I have no debt, and it’s a very good feeling to not be a debt slave. I place a high value on security and peace of mind.

But, in retrospect, I do wish I had been a better investor with my resources. I wish I had been a more responsible steward with the money I’ve made over the years (I am now 62). There are times and instances when I did not manage my money as well as I could have. I’ve made a few costly mistakes with investing, hence that quote in the title at the top of this blog post: “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn.”

All of which now brings me to an interview that I recently watched…

I don’t suppose that most of you reading this will find a 2.5 hour interview with Anthony Deden to be as interesting as I did, unless you have an interest in the world of investing. If that is the case, you will find it to be a worthwhile experience.

Anthony Deden is a money manager like few money managers. He does not seek the limelight. He has never given an interview before this one. He is not a dynamic speaker. He is not selling books, or investments, or anything. There are other money managers like Mr. Deden in the world, and they, like him, quietly and skillfully manage the upper-class family fortunes of their clients. The idea is to secure, grow, and help those fortunes endure… for generations.

When I listen to this man, and the gems of reliable, contrarian, long-enduring investing philosophy he shares, I feel like I’m a grandson listening to a wise grandfather. I only wish I was 40 years younger.

###

The interview has some boring stretches, but the gems of investing wisdom are there if you are patient and attentive. I thought I would harvest some quotes from the Anthony Deden interview and post them here. But This Web Page has compiled the high points. Reading is not the same as listening, but it won’t require 2.5 hours of your time. Here, from that page link, are a couple of highlights…

There is no value in reading the financial press. The news is not news, it’s fake and it always has been. A lot of reports for news are poorly disguised promotions, or written by people who have no clue.

The reason why people are looking at the press constantly and seeing what do other people do is because their investment decisions are largely based on other people’s decisions. Instead, you should figure out what’s right for you by yourself because you don’t know what is the real motivation of the person behind the news.

Remember that a play on words can change the whole perspective on how your brain processes things. Over the years, the gambling business has changed its name to the gaming business. This is not by accident. They want to infer to you that there is an element of fun in giving money to the house when all odds are against you.

There are companies where the owners have a mindset to protect, preserve and enhance what they have been handed over by the previous generation, and pass on the baton to the future generation when the time is right. These are the kind of owners you would want to partner with.

The time horizon of such owners is not in years but in generations. When you partner with owners with such ideology, rest assured that the company will continue to do well for decades to come and your capital is secured.

“The best thing you can pass onto your children is not money, it’s the way of doing things.”

Anthony Deden

The COVID-19 Snooker?

The definition of “snooker,” as a verb, is to “make a dupe of: hookwink.” Some synonyms for snooker: bamboozle, beguile, buffalo, con, deceive, delude, fake out, fool, hoax, hoodwink, hornswoggle, sucker, take in, trick.

Early in February I started watching YouTube reports about the COVID-19 flue in China. It looked serious, and I took it seriously. After all, the world has experienced some horrific pandemics throughout history. On February 23 I posted Coronavirus Concerns here on Heavenstretch.

I have been watching news reports and various YouTube videos about the spread of COVID-19 ever since. And I made four YouTube videos related to the pandemic.

But I have been questioning the whole scenario from the beginning. I am, by nature a skeptic, especially when the mainstream media and government are coordinating the narrative. So, I have gone back and forth in my mind, trying to determine just how serious this thing really is. The information being offered from various sources is conflicting, and confusing. It has been something akin to the fog of war.

What do you do when you are in the fog of war, when there is confusion all around, when once solid structures are crumbling ?

I’ve never been in the military, but my instincts would be to get into the safest position I could (or perhaps make a slow, steady, cautious retreat) and then gather information to make a strategic decision about how best to proceed. That’s what I have done. I’ve made and acted on some common sense defensive decisions. But the fog is still there.

However, more and more, I have come to believe the official narrative about this pandemic is incorrect. It doesn’t add up. A week ago I pulled two of my YouTube pandemic videos. Then, earlier today, my Macedonian friend, Kire, sent me the following interview…

That video has Dr. Knut Wittkowski speaking in English, with Macedonian subtitles. Dr. Wittkowski appears to be well qualified to speak on this subject of a viral pandemic. You can read his bio HERE.

What Dr. Wittkowski says in that video makes sense to me. I’m wondering if it makes sense to you?

I’m wondering if, perhaps, I could add another synonym to “snooker.” PsyOps comes to mind. If this is a deliberate, strategic PsyOp, it is maniacally brilliant.

“The Red Tape is Gonna Cause People to Starve Here in a Few Weeks…. It’s going to get ugly”

The above clip was recommended to me by a friend. If you skip ahead to 4:12 in the video you’ll bypass the political preliminaries and get to the meat of the discussion.

Thomas Massie (the title of this blog post is his quote), a Republican congressman from Kentucky, has long been concerned about the increasing centralization of food processing in America. In 2017 he introduced a bill that would “revive local meat processing.”

Rural America once had a vast, decentralized network of local meat processing facilities. That is no longer the case, and Representative Massie succinctly explains why in This Video. Here is what he says…

“Because of the stupid government regulations, in order to turn one of my animals into a hamburger there’s this big process involved. I can’t go to the local butcher and have him process the beef for me. I have to drive three hours opn the interstate to a place that looks like a factory and drop my cattle off, and they go into the factory, and they come out as hamburger with the USDA stamp.

Our food system used to be more distributed. Smaller farms and farmers used to sell more of their goods locally. But as things consolidated, the companies ended up as aggregators, like the meat packers or the dairy cooperatives.

They actually welcomed more regulation into their business because it became a barrier to entry for their competitors. And it made sure the small farmers, instead of selling to consumers, went through the aggregators. So the aggregators in this system love big government.

The USDA is sitting in the meat processor’s plant, then the meat processor has a lobbyist sitting up at the USDA in Washington, D.C.. That has made our system more brittle, because now all the food has to pass through just a few small points.

When transportation breaks down, when daycare breaks down, when all the secondary and tertiary suppliers to those corporations break down, then the food supply stops.”

And so it is that the COVID-19 drama is now closing down several meat processing aggregators in America. A local news report here in NY shows a milk tanker truck dumping thousands of gallons of perfectly good milk into a manure pit. California farmers are letting crops rot in the fields. I have a farmer friend who, for the first time in his life, may not plant his fields this year.

The highly-regulated, centralized food system in America is not robust. It is fragile. It is vulnerable. It is showing signs of weakness. In a very real sense, it is now collapsing.

Many Americans are upset because this country has become dependent on China for so many necessities. It’s a legitimate reason to be upset. But Americans should also be upset that our nation’s food supply is largely dependent on a few, monopoly aggregator corporations. Those corporations have, with the help of big government, shredded the once-strong agricultural fabric of this nation.

This blog post is directly related to my previous blog post, and the McAlvany interview in which James Howard Kuntsler envisions an American civilization that has returned to a robust, decentralized, localized, largely-agrarian economy. For this to happen, the current system must fail, and failure is what we are now seeing.

Unfortunately, with failure comes pain and suffering for a lot of people.

But I hasten to add that failure also brings opportunity. That’s something to think about…

Dumping good milk!

David McAlvany Interviews James Howard Kunstler

Three years ago, I wrote a review of David McAlvany’s excellent book, The Intentional Legacy (you can read my review HERE). I have continued to listen to the weekly McAlvany Commentary. Today’s show was something different.

Instead of the usual thoughtful economic analysis and discussion, David McAlvany interviewed James Howard Kunstler, who has just authored the book, Living in the Long Emergency. Kunstler is a prolific and talented writer. His frequent social/political blog essays are clever, irreverent, and entertaining.

If you happen to have been a reader of my Deliberate Agrarian blog, and you liked the decentralized, agrarian focus of my writings there, I think you will enjoy this McAlvany interview.

On a related note, David McAlvany mentions a book titled, The Land Remembers, in the interview. I wrote the title down, read the reviews on Amazon, and wasted no time in ordering an inexpensive used copy. Click Here to read a very good article about the book and its author, Ben Logan.

Introducing… The Writings of Jim Huskins

Jim & Maggie

Jim Huskins is a talented, down-to-earth, long-time reader of my blog writings, and he is a writer himself. Jim authors a column at Blue Ridge Christian News (Click Here). He has also written a book titled, Livermush Theology. Today I read his most recent essay, and asked if I might publish it here. He has graciously granted me permission. It is my pleasure to present it to you….

Isolation?

Sometime in the aftermath of WWII many among us developed a fascinating set of core convictions which include: We have been freed from the “drudgery” of food production. Technology will mitigate the effects of infirmity and aging. The fact and functions of human gender no longer apply. Greed is now a virtue. If these propositions are true, then paradise is now technically feasible, and God is no longer necessary.


Contrarian perspective can be found in a Maurice Telleen editorial circa 1980: “Despite all our achievements, we owe our existence to six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains.” As evidence that moderns have not superseded the boundaries of the human condition, I propose that nothing says needy like “global pandemic.” 


Every great civilization concluded that “they” were invincible. Soon after any culture “realized” that the rules no longer applied to them, those storied empires met destruction. Many were defeated in battle. Others succumbed to internal struggle. Almost all were gutted by unsound economic policies and dependence on government programs. Many of history’s strongest powers collapsed because they outgrew their resource base. Others fell to disease and/or poor sanitation. Of course none of these situations apply to us. This time things are different….


Those empires contained minority voices who protested that their nation was on a destructive path. Proverbs 16:18 states that, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Ancient Greece coined a word for the pride that portends destruction. Merriam Webster provides excellent summation. The Greeks recognized this “dangerous character flaw capable of provoking the wrath of the gods.” They called it hubris: “overconfidence which leads to overstepping the boundaries of human limitation and assuming godlike status.” In Greek literature, hubris always leads to tragedy. Without doubt, many philosophers screamed as those in charge raced along the highway which carried Greece from World Ruler to more than a millennium as a loose amalgamation of goat herders and fishing villages. 


Even a cursory reading of the Bible confirms that our Hebrew forebears valued wisdom. Hebrew wisdom is superior to any other since its source is the Author of Existence. He has shown us how to live. The Bible teaches that, as a result of our sin, mankind will never escape our need to work in order to eat. The fact that some can afford to pay others to do that work for them does not invalidate the rule. We may be entering a time when many will welcome opportunities to engage in the “drudgery” of food production since the alternative could be starvation.


The Bible does teach that knowledge will increase during our last days. It also implies that the pace of living will increase. Human life expectancy is generally longer now that at most points in our history, but no Biblical prophecy suggests profound changes in technology which will keep us from growing old and/or dying.


Scripture teaches that male and female gender is a divine gift. God created the two sexes to work together and compliment each other. He treasures that arrangement. Every blurring or diminishment of gender roles—including cross dressing—the Bible labels “abomination.” 


Arguably, the Bible has more to say about greed than any other topic. The original sin was prompted by a greed for knowledge. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. I long for actual free enterprise and free trade even as I suspect that both concepts have fallen from official favor and will soon be labeled “unnecessary luxuries” by those who actually make decisions. Was it unwise for us to become dependent on an economic model that does not recognize the concept of “enough?” Is it accidental that this hubristic age should find itself in mortal combat with a virus?


My suspicion that Covid 19 is not entirely “natural” does not detract from its gravity. Many have died. Many more will follow. No one can accurately predict cumulative effect, but unintended consequences of our containment efforts may produce social and economic impact more devastating that the disease. One inescapable result of isolation is an awareness of being alone. We are social by nature. Even if we are spending this surreal period with the most important person or persons in the world, lack of ready access to all those other important ones is, at times, debilitating. Do not despair.


Fortunately, the Bible is a unified narrative about fellowship. God so treasures our company that He created us to be His companions. We opted instead for the fleeting pleasures of sin, but He was willing to pay an unimaginable price for us. All we have to do is follow the one who promised to never leave us or forsake us. His terms are summarized in John 14:15. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He never says that grace makes obedience unnecessary. Such claims are pure hubris.


Many pastors, teachers and theologians tell us that the first two thirds of the Bible has been cancelled. Paul teaches in 2 Timothy 3:16 that: “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” When he wrote those words, the so-called New Testament did not exist.


Never has it been more important for believers to know what the Bible actually teaches. The only way to do that is to read it from the beginning with an open mind. I challenge you to start that process today and to test everything you have been taught against scripture. In these troubled times, anything less than first-hand knowledge of God’s Word will lead to tragedy.


Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. See Revelation 14:12. We will resume meeting each Sabbath—Seventh Day—in Marion after present health concerns are resolved. lostranger@mindspring.com

Maggie is 18 hands high and 2200 pounds. To put her size in perspective, Jim is 6’5″ tall.

After The Pandemic: We Will All Pay Dearly

It took a large iceberg to sink the RMS Titanic ocean liner in 1912. It took an invisible viral particle to sink the Titanic American economy in 2020.

Oh, I know, it hasn’t sunk yet, but economic activity all around the world is screeching to a halt. Unemployment is soaring. The American stock market has crashed (and has probably not hit bottom yet). Credit markets are freezing up. Banks are having liquidity problems. There are very serious, underlying, systemic issues. An economic recession is certain. Great Depression 2.0 is probable.

Not to worry, though. The stock market always rebounds. It might take decades, but it rebounds. In the meantime the government will bail out all kinds of failing businesses. And they will send every average American a check (or direct deposit) for a couple thousand dollars. They call it “Helicopter money.” Clever.

Free-market economist, Milton Friedman, coined the term, “helicopter money” back in 1969. The idea of the government creating ginormous amounts of money and, figuratively speaking, tossing it out of a helicopter into all sectors of the economy, as a way to jumpstart economic activity, was a theoretical absurdity to Friedman. He saw it as a desperate last resort… that would ultimately fail. Friedman was no dummy.

Our money from the government will be coming soon. Before this pandemic/economic episode is over, we will probably be getting more than just one handout payment. The money must be sent because millions of Americans are seriously impoverished. Millions of Americans are either totally or partially dependent on government handouts. If the government does not distribute the money, there will be riots. The cities will burn.

But these helicopter money handouts are harbingers.

No, not Harbinger, as in the 2012 book by Jonathan Cahn, the Messianic Jew Rabbi pseudo prophet, but harbinger as in the definition of the word: “something that foreshadows a future eventsomething that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come.”

The “free money” handouts, along with the trillions of dollars flushed into failing corporations, and all manner of “free” government services, are a harbinger of hyperinflation and the eventual destruction of the American dollar. That would be something worse than Great Depression 2.0.

It won’t be the first time a paper-money economic system has totally failed. History shows that, in due time, they have ALL totally failed.

With that in mind, back in 2013 I wrote a series of six essays on the subject of How To Survive The Coming Hyperinflation. Much of what I wrote revolves around the historical book, When Money Dies, by Adam Ferguson. The information and perspective I present in the series is still pertinent. It is more pertinent than it was seven years ago. It is also a decidedly Christian-agrarian perspective. Here are the links…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

President Trump is telling Americans that our economy will boom when this wave of pandemic passes. He might actually believe that, and he might actually be right. Ginormous infusions of government money can goose the economy. But it will be a fake prosperity. It can’t last.

Keep in mind that history is full of examples of people in power assuring the citizenry that all is well right up to the point that all heck breaks loose. I take everything politicians say with a grain of salt.

The fundamental economic problem will not be fixed after the pandemic wave passes. The fundamental problem will, in fact, be significantly worsened. That problem is leverage. Governments, businesses, and individuals are overleveraged like never before. Debt is not just the elephant in the room, it is a whole herd of elephants in the room, and the beasts are getting restless.

There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who wonder what happened. My 6-part series (links above) offers practical, positive, proactive, economic self-defense ideas for anyone who wants to make things happen by positioning themselves for the eventual hyperinflation that will come to America.

My How To Survive Hyperinflation series does not focus on buying gold and silver, but I do discuss that in Part 4. If you are one of the few Americans with some savings, and you want to hedge your bets with some of that money, there are very simple ways to get money out of the fiat-money banking system and into allocated precious metals. These ways were not around when I wrote those essays in 2013. Vaulted and Sprott Bullion Trusts are a couple of options for you to check out. Those are not affiliate links, and I am not recommending those companies. I am simply letting you know that those kinds of options exist.

In the final analysis, hyperinflation and the eventual destruction of the American dollar-as-we-have-known-it, will not be the end of the world. People will pick up the pieces of their shattered modern lives and rebuild. Economic activity will continue. The sun will still shine. God’s common grace will still fill the land. We were all born for such a time as this.

Coronavirus Concerns

I assume that everyone in America is following the new coronavirus (officially named COVID-19) as closely as I am. But it so happens that many (perhaps most) Americans have little interest in the science of a virus pandemic, and little concern for the social, political, economic and personal impact that such a pandemic may have on their lives.

I’ve come to realize that people are wired differently when it comes to potential crisis scenarios like this. Some want to know the truth about what they may have to deal with so they can be proactive. Others, for various reasons, have no interest in the reality of details or personal proactivity.

It is what it is, and I have no interest in expending time and energy on trying to convince anyone that they should take any potential crisis scenario seriously. I did that with Y2k in my community 20 years ago. I really put myself out there (which is not easy for an introvert). I spoke to the local chamber of commerce. I gave a presentation at a public assembly. I contacted all my neighbors and communicated my concerns. I will not ever do that again.

But, the way it looks to me, COVID-19 is serious enough to warrant this post for you, my small circle of blog friends. If this virus is not yet on your radar screen, I’d like to provide the following 12 details for you to consider. These details are correct to the best of my knowledge at this time, based on the sources I provide below…

  1. COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus. That means it is something totally new in the human ecosystem. No one in the world has natural antibody protection in their bodies to deal with this virus, as is the case with many other known viruses.
  2. COVID-19 is a Pandemic. It is currently spreading throughout the world.
  3. COVID-19 is extremely contagious. The virus is spread in aerosol form. That means that someone who is infected with the virus spreads it by simply breathing. The virus can spread from room to room in a building through natural air currents, or through ductwork.
  4. COVID-19 virus can survive on surfaces for a long time. At 68°F it can survive for 24 hours.
  5. COVID-19 virus can enter your body through your mouth, your nose, or your eyes.
  6. People who have COVID-19 and show no symptoms (asymptomatic) are contagious and spreaders of the virus. This is the most insidious aspect of this little beast.
  7. 80% of people who get COVID-19 will have only cold or flue symptoms. 15% will develop serious respiratory problems and require hospitalization (to get oxygen into their system). 5% will require lengthy intensive care in a hospital.
  8. Most people who die from COVID-19 die from pneumonia and the resulting hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen to the cells of the body. There is some indication that those who survive serious cases of COVID-19 have permanent heart damage.
  9. A vaccine for COVID-19 is one year to 18 months away from being available. In the meantime, the virus is likely to mutate.
  10. Children under 12 are not as susceptible to the virus as adults, and if they get it, it is less severe than in adults (but they are still spreading the virus). Men are more susceptible than women. People over 70 are most at risk of dying (but people of all ages are dying from the virus).
  11. COVID-19 is not a virus that will “burn out” when the weather warms up in North America, as typically happens with yearly flue viruses.
  12. There is evidence to indicate that a person can be reinfected with COVID-19 after recovering, and it is worse the second time around.

Unlike Y2k, COVID-19 is not something that might happen in the future. It is not a “conspiracy theory.” It is happening now. According to Dr. John Campbell, in the UK, it is estimated that 60% of the population in the UK will contract the virus in the first year once it gets a foothold in the country.

If 60% of a nation’s population (or even much less than that) gets this virus, and 20% requires hospitalization, the hospital medical system will not be able to accommodate all the people who need care. This is what is already happening in China. The medical system in the United States is no better prepared to deal with this kind of pandemic. Not at all. This is the greatest health concern with COVID-19.

The only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in a country is with extreme public quarantine measures. Quarantine measures like the United States has not seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918. COVID-19 is not as deadly as the Spanish Flu, but it has the potential to overwhelm the medical system and significantly disrupt the normal operations of our society even more than the Spanish Flu.

My personal opinion: all governments and their bureaucracies have a vested interest in downplaying the seriousness of a viral pandemic. But if it gets serious, the government will have to take drastic measures to deal with it. Mass public quarantine (shut down of everything) for several weeks is likely. There is no other option, except to let the pandemic rage.

Now the logical question: Can you personally get by if quarantined to your home for several weeks? Precious few Americans are prepared for such a scenario. That being the case, the potential crisis will be much more than just a health crisis.

Chris Martinson and Dr. John Campbell are providing some excellent, up to date information about COVID-19 on their YouTube channels. I recommend them to you.

Joshua Sheats, at Radical Personal Finance, has produced an excellent podcast: How To Prepare For Flu-Coronavirus Quarantine. At around 30 minutes into the podcast, Joshua provides the most sensible advice I’ve heard on the subject of inexpensively providing food to feed your family for a 30-day quarantine.

Yes, he discusses the prepper standard of rice and beans, but he has much more practical suggestions. For example, he recommends white flour, oil and salt to make flatbread and a lot of jars of peanut butter and jam. Beyond that, pancake mix and syrup or honey. For $100 to $200 a family could stock up on those items and survive fairly well. In the event that you don’t use the flour and other items, you can just throw them away after a year or two. They were insurance. They gave you peace of mind. He has other practical suggestions beyond peanut butter and pancake mix.

I’ve said it in past blog posts, and it bears repeating: Complexity brings vulnerability. Our modern civilization is the most complex that the world has ever seen. Chris Martinson and his Peak Prosperity organization have long recommended that people in this complex civilization live a “resilient” lifestyle. That includes having what Chris refers to as a “deep pantry.”

“Deep pantry” is a term I like. It’s an old fashioned concept. Rural people used to have a larder where they kept a supply of food. Stock the larder with food you already eat. It’s not a panic response. It’s not radical “prepping.” It’s just old fashioned common sense. Oh, and a garden too!

So there’s some perspective on this potential crisis. Do what you will with it.

God help us all.

So Long To The Boy Scouts… But What About The Boy Problem?

You’ve probably heard that the Boy Scouts organization has filed for bankruptcy. They will soon be history. The organization lost it’s way in recent years. When they compromised on the morally straight part of the Scout Oath, it was all over but the shouting. Oh, and they started letting girls be Scouts. That was just plain dumb.

Unfortunately, the “boy problem” remains.

It was the “boy problem” that prompted Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell to create the Boy Scouts in 1910. The “boy problem” is well worth understanding, and Albert Mohler explained it very well in his February 19th episode of The Briefing (I listen to The Briefing every morning with the podcast app on my iPhone).

The following two excerpts are from that day’s program transcript. They are insightful…

Back in the early 20th century, it was already recognized that modern, advanced, Western societies, those Western societies in Europe and in North America that had experienced the industrial revolution, had also experienced urbanization. And the two of those issues coming together created what was known in the early 20th century as the boy problem or the boy crisis. It was noted in Britain, it was noted in the United States and, of course, elsewhere throughout Europe and nations such as Canada as well.

What was the problem? When you had boys growing up on farms, they were working with their fathers and their uncles and their older brothers and they were enculturated into a world of manhood there in a largely rural environment. It didn’t take a massive volunteer organization, an organization specifically targeted for the purpose of helping boys to grow up. It wasn’t required back then, but once you had the twin forces of the industrial revolution in which two things happen, not only did you have the shift of so much of the work off of the farm into a factory, but you also had dad, the father in the home, increasingly taken out of the home for significant numbers of hours during the day to work in the factory.

And then urbanization concentrated the problem such that you had gangs and bands of boys who were hanging out together and often up to no good in America’s cities that then had a burgeoning population. There was another concern that was rooted in the early 20th century, and it was a concern about health and the decline of masculinity. Also back in the early 20th century, there was the fear that European and North American boys were growing weak. And the masculinity or the masculine health crisis was seen in the fact that these boys were not out on the farm pushing the plow and furthermore just picking up giant bales of hay. They weren’t engaged in the same kind of physical activity and they were going soft.

And so, there was the ideal that if you could just get boys together in the presence of men who would guide them and you would get them out of doors, get them out of town, even away from the giant chimneys of the industrial revolution, get them out in the woods and teach them the arts and crafts of woodcraft, and hiking, and for that matter, any number of other outdoor activities including swimming, then you could perhaps help to reverse the boy crisis.

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“But looking back over a century of distance at all that now, what would it possibly have meant if you had the opportunity to tell one of those early founders of the Boy Scouts movement that by the time you get to the 21st century, the word “boy” is itself indeterminate, at least when it comes to the cultural elites. And furthermore, the idea that you could have a program just for boys, well that has become just an artifact of oppressive patriarchy. All of that is now just baked in to the cultural worldview of the intellectual elites. But that’s not the way it is still when it comes to the need of boys to have this kind of organization, for boys to have this kind of influence. The fact is that the scouting movement was directed towards a very real need.

One of the primary responsibilities of any civilization is to assist boys into growing into manhood. If that doesn’t happen, the society cannot continue. And the Boy Scouts of America, along with the military, and, of course, Christian churches and other organizations such as the YMCA (that interestingly emerged out of basically the very same concerns) helped generation after generation of boys to move successfully or at least more successfully into manhood. But the Boy Scouts of America could not, or at least they did not withstand the vast moral and sociological changes that came in the United States.

I was a Boy Scout. It was a mixed experience for me, but overall good. Interestingly, I was a Boy Scout when I lived in a suburban housing complex—before my family moved to the countryside (when I was in 9th grade). Scouts was a poor substitute for growing up in a rural setting with close family, shared physical work, responsibility, and manly role models. But the Boy Scouts did the best they could.

When I had children (three boys) I did not direct them into the Boy Scouts (or any organized sports). It was unnecessary. We lived in a rural setting. My work was local, and I was home every evening, if not during the days. We homeschooled. We worked together as a family on various homestead projects. Grandparents were close by. My sons worked on local farms from a young age. Our family chose to live a deliberate agrarian lifestyle.

My sons are responsible family men now. They will tell you that they had a wonderful childhood.

I dare say the “boy problem” is worse now than it ever was. The solution will not be found in any mainstream cultural organization. It can only truly be found in traditional families, with fathers who are wholesome male role models, and fully engaged in giving their sons an upbringing that is as close to the traditional rural ideal as possible.

That’s the way I see it.

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein…”

Jeremiah 6:16

Monetizing My Time In The Heavenstretch

My Planet Whizbang workshop as it was.
Another as-it-was view.

Anything used as an input in the production of goods or services is a commodity. Thus, time is a commodity and, as the saying goes, it is a precious commodity. Using time wisely is everyone’s challenge. It is especially challenging in our modernized civilization, with its many time-consuming and totally vacuous amusements.

As a solopreneur, and sole income-earner for my family, a great deal of my time is expended on making money. While I’m no longer a wage slave, I still have to make a living. At 62 years of age, leisurely retirement is not an option for me.

Fortunately, I love my home-based, solopreneur lifestyle and want to continue working. I expect (and hope) to continue being financially productive for at least another 15 to 20 years. It is with those years in mind that I’m making some big changes.

The two photos above show my Planet Whizbang workshop last month (I had the space half emptied before I decided to take the pictures). The 24′ x 24′ room is going to be transformed from a cluttered, dirty workshop into a clean, organized, inventory storage and mail-order packaging room. The transformation will be dramatic.

The adjoining 8′ x 24′ mail-order packaging room that has served me for many years will become my “new” dirty and cluttered workshop. It’s a big switch, and a big winter project.

The new room will have new windows, new walls, new flooring, new lighting, new heat (no more wood stove). The outside of the building will get a new roof, new entrance doors, and new siding.

Several of the Planet Whizbang products I now make and sell will be discontinued when the current inventory runs out. The more profitable and easier-to-make products will continue to be sold. Poultry shrink bags are what mostly pays the bills around here these days.

Streamlining my work area and business should free up more time for other pursuits. That is the objective. I will then be able to once again spend some time making YouTube videos.

My youngest son, James, has been bugging me about monetizing my videos at YouTube for a long time. I finally did it. I signed up for monetization, was approved, and monetized only those videos that I felt offered some value to a viewer. One day later I had made money…

That $1.48 in earnings reminds me of the verse in Zechariah 4:10: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Successful YouTube monetization involves making more and more videos, and generating more views. It is not a work comparable to the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. Nevertheless, it is a project that involves initiative, creativity, and time. It involves using the talents and abilities God has entrusted to me.

My YouTube channel currently has 22,055 subscribers. This blog has 63 subscribers. I love you all, and I will continue to blog here from time to time (for the duration of my heavenstretch), but if I’m not here, I’ll be over on YouTube.

If you go to my YouTube channel (Link Here), click on the “Playlists.” I have organized all my past videos into several playlist categories. I plan to add a few new categories in the future. My focus will be on creating how-to content, or some sort of other useful content. Since I am far from a professional video producer, some amusement may accompany the production. I hope to be more authentic and comfortable in future videos.

If you have been to my YouTube channel in the past, you will notice that it now has a new name. “This Agrarian Life” with the Concord grapes background, now looks like this …

I still have much to do with the renovation of my workshop but hope to start adding more YouTube content soon.

Thank you.

Modern Methodists, The Ignorants, and Jesus Christ

The Methodist church is the second largest Protestant church in America. John Wesley is credited as the founder of the Methodist movement of the 1700s that birthed the Methodist church. I was married in a Methodist church, but I’m not a Methodist. I am, however, a follower of Jesus Christ. Just call me a “Jesus person.” I’m good with that.

You may have heard that the Methodist church is coming apart over the matter of homosexuality and other sexually deviant sins. Half the church believes that Jesus is okay with the LGBT lifestyle. They welcome “gays” to come as you are and be “gay” Methodist christians. The other half thinks that LGBT folk should come as they are, then repent of their sin and be Methodist Christians. The difference is significant.

I have blogged about homosexuality before (HERE). That essay upset several readers. They wrote and told me about it. They told me they were no longer going to read my blog. I told them that I was sorry to see them go, and I wished them well.

The main point of that essay was that homosexual activists were targeting children to indoctrinate them into the LGBT lifestyle; that the activists are sexual predators. It is an obviously evil pursuit and objective. It it will lead many children into a life of heartache and regret. Misery loves company.

I’m old enough to remember when homosexuals just wanted people to “stay out of their bedrooms.” To let them be. And they wanted “equal rights.” I took that to mean they wanted the same basic human rights that those who are not homosexual have. That is something I can agree with.

But the homosexual agenda has moved far beyond those reasonable demands. Now they want complete access to children (and very young children at that) through the government schools. They want to teach them that homosexuality is a legitimate and good path in life. And, by the way, so are all kinds of other self-destructive sexual choices.

This is a social and cultural tragedy that will, in due time, if unchecked, be sufficient to bring an end to Western Civilization. There is historical evidence that societal acceptance of sexual perversions has accompanied the downfall of other ( perhaps all) developed empires in history.

LGBT-doctrinal infiltration of government schools is bad enough but homosexual supremacists have moved on to advance their demands upon Christianity and traditional, orthodox beliefs. They achieved great success through the 2015 Obergafeld supreme court decision to legally redefine marriage and family from what God designed marriage and family to be. That was a direct attack on the Christian sexual ethic.

And now the activists have moved into the Christian church itself. They want Christian churches to radically alter their traditional theological beliefs to embrace and promote the LGBT agenda. More accurately, they want Christian churches to totally jettison the gospel of Jesus Christ. And a great many churches are doing just that.

Why would Christian churches go along with this agenda?

There are three basic answers to that question, and they are well worth understanding. First, they are afraid. Second, they are confused (or just plain ignorant) about what Christianity teaches. Third, they don’t believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change lives.

The ignorance and confusion revolve around the matter of “love.” The christian Ignorants assert that Jesus loved and accepted everyone, regardless of their sin. They point to the woman caught in adultery in John, Chapter 8. You will recall that the religious leaders wanted to stone her. Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” In so saying, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. No one threw a stone. They walked away.

The Ignorants will say, “See, Jesus did not condemn the sinning woman and he told her so. He loved and accepted her instead of condemning her. That’s what the Christian church should do with homosexuals and other sinners.”

This is where I feel compelled to clarify some very fundamental understandings about Jesus and that story. First, Jesus did not condemn the woman because she, like all humans, was already condemned. As sinners, all of humanity is condemned. We were condemned by our sins before Jesus came, and we are condemned by our sins after he came.

John 3:17 is often used by the Ignorants: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;…” That is absolutely true, but the reason he didn’t come into the world to condemn it is because, as I’ve already noted, the world was already condemned. Which brings me to the critically important second part of that John 3:17 verse: “but that the world through him might be saved.” And that brings me now to a proper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the essence of the whole Christian faith…

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did not come into the world to approve, or excuse, or accept sinners as they are. He came to deliver those who would believe upon Him; to free them from the guilt, the bondage, and the corruption of their sins here on earth, and to save them from the punishment they would otherwise so richly deserve in eternity.

To that woman caught in adultery, who Jesus saved from being stoned, his parting words were: “…go, and sin no more.”

I’ve heard Christians say that the main difference between themselves and non-Christians is that those who come to Christ are forgiven of their sins and the non-Christians are not. While that is true, it’s a terrible distinction. It comes across as arrogant. I don’t like it at all. You’ll never hear me say that.

The much better distinction is that Christians acknowledge their sin, they hate their sin, and they do battle against their natural sinful inclinations. We who are followers of Jesus, do this battle through the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit working in us.

To hate your sin, to turn away from sin, to fight against sin in one’s life is known as repentance. It is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing, daily, struggle.

Is there room in the Christian church for people who love their sin, who flaunt their sin, who promote their sin, who present their sin a something good and admirable? Should the Christian church affirm sin? Should the Christian church be utilized as a tool to advance the homosexual agenda?

Well, of course not. It wouldn’t be an authentic Christian church if it did that.

In my next essay I will provide some visual examples and a brief discussion of how I think Jesus would respond to a LGBT-affirming church were he to physically come to earth and walk among us, as he once did.