On Old Red & In Defense of God
I don’t think I’ve ever introduced you to Old Red. She once was more of a new Red, a shiny Red, a Red with sex appeal and a kitten-like purr, but these days she’s earned the “Old” part of her name. She rumbles more than purrs and her parts aren’t all exactly as they once were. Like all good women, she’s gotten better as she’s aged. Only now, fifteen years later, is she beginning to slow down. Fifteen is like eighty in truck years and so it is to be expected.
She’s older than our marriage and both children. She took us to the movies and on vacations when we were dating. She’s hauled our kids to school and sports practices, pulled our camper to the lake and back. She’s brought home countless tons of feed, big bales of hay and straw, box loads of mulch and compost. Every inch of fence on our farm, every board, every nail, every fence post once made a journey in or behind her. She’s hauled pigs, poultry and cattle to market; kids, cows, and horses to and from fair, 4-H, and rodeo. She’s done it on worn tires when times were tight, and has never asked for more than a quick drink of fresh oil, a new set of brake pads.
She’s going to have to be replaced soon. This year, probably, but neither The Man nor I are excited to see her go. We looked last year, even brought a shiny new Red home for a weekend, but it wasn’t meant to be. She’s seen us through the beginning and growth of both our family and farm, she may as well be family herself. It’s hard (and expensive) to let her go, but I can tell you one thing for sure: when we must, it’ll be another just like her that fills that spot in the driveway.
By now you’ve probably seen the Ram Trucks Superbowl Ad featuring Paul Harvey reading his piece titled, “God Made a Farmer”.
If you haven’t watch now. It’s well worth the two minutes of your life.
There have been plenty of posts in the agriculture blogging circles praising Dodge today. Lora Berg wrote about how the ad made it a “good day to be a farmer” at National Hog Farmer Magazine, Carrie Mess pulled words from the hearts of all farmers when she wrote, “All I want is to be a good farmer. The kind of farmer that Paul Harvey describes here,” and Ryan Goodman included the words to Harvey’s original 1978 tribute in his post, which in and of themselves are worth a read.
But there have also been some less-than-stellar discussions of the commercial outside ag circles and many of those have centered on Dodge’s inclusion of “God” in their ad. Since I think it’s important that we don’t get caught up in our own communities to the exclusion of other perceptions and opinions it’s that one that I most want to talk about today.
Paul Harvey was famous for his down-to-earth personality and commitment to America’s heartland, the rural-dwelling folks who labor day in and day out to feed the nation. Of course, it’s probably worth noting that a grand majority of those people are, in fact, Christian. And, as such, the invocation of God in a tribute to them is not so far out of left field. But what’s really notable here is that part about Paul Harvey being so down to earth. I can’t speak for him, I guess, but I don’t think he’d mind if you interpreted the word ‘God’ differently than he did. I don’t think he’d mind if your God goes by a different name than his or if by none at all. And I know for fairly certain America’s farmers don’t mind. They don’t mind if what you got out of that commercial is that a class of people arose from years of evolution to take on the job of being a farmer instead of being built specifically for it by a higher power. I think they’re mostly just happy to be getting acknowledgement on such an enormous stage, to know that one of the companies they support also supports them and they’re excited that more Americans might pause to consider the work that goes into filling grocery shelves. My God goes by a different name than Paul’s, by a different name than most Farmers’ and it’s okay if yours does, too. The point isn’t about the source of the farmer, but the source of the food.