The Hardscrabble History of a Proud Prairie Church
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The Hardscrabble History of a Proud Prairie Church

The endless prairie all around is so bereft of people and buildings today that coming up on St. Stephenie Scandinavian Church from any direction is a resounding joy, even though the old church is but a shell of its former self. It’s hard to imagine the neighborhood teeming with Danes and Bohemians and Virginians, a Great Plains melting pot, each family – eleventy-seven kids too – trying to make a go of it on 80 acres.

Blessed Are The Caregivers

Blessed Are The Caregivers

Theirs was “teamwork” in a less than obvious sense. About the farm – specifically hogs – she had never been particularly fond. He wasn’t driven by dreams of great barns or greater wealth. For years, he used the same nails and 2x12s for farrowing hogs, kept all that swine farrow-to-finish (no one does that these days). He farmed in a fashion that made his operation strictly one-man. If she helped him while haying, she might have been aboard the tractor; but his good wife kept chickens and eggs and stayed far away from chores not her own.

‘Going to God’: Remembering Eugene

‘Going to God’: Remembering Eugene

One of them was working on the Bible, rewriting it. I was stunned. I knew the man by reputation but hadn’t read a thing of his. Tall, gaunt, slightly stooped, fleece vest, a plaid shirt and a silvery comb-over, he seemed shy, thoughtful, and, in a very good sense, preacherly, the softest touch of the whole bunch, no reason to be afraid.

Eugene Peterson had nothing of Jeremiah in him. He was quiet, his wife, Janice, more social, nimble in conversation. Sometimes he entered the discussions only at her prodding. I told my wife the man had the bearing of a saint.

In a Reservation Cemetery
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In a Reservation Cemetery

There I stood, an old white man who’s written a half-dozen books of meditations, a professor who spent 37 years teaching in a Christian college, and more of my life in church than most Americans can even imagine. I had nothing to say to a couple of Lakota kids who were saddened and snickering that a cemetery stone said their ancestor had been “a Christian and a friend of the whites.”