Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Timeless Place

Recently I decided to start reading a volume of Reader's Digest's Condensed Books from 1971.  It's borrowed from my grandfather's vast collection.  I finished the first novel:

A Timeless Place by Ellen Bromfield Geld.

The daughter of a famous author and her husband now take care of her father's farm after his passing.  She has one son fighting in the Vietnam war, a 17-year-old daughter, and a young son named Michael.  From what I can tell, I think this is her father's sister who lives there, too: Aunt Elizabeth.  Btw, her name is Cass Fagan, her husband is Dan, and her first two children are Steve and Leah.  Her late father was the author Thomas Barr.

Apparently Thomas Barr had this farm, and his writing was so successful that people would come from all over the world to see his farm country in Sutter Valley, Ohio, to see his inspiration.

Now that Barr has passed on, the town wants to try to preserve his memory by building a highway through the farm and the mountain and adding a resort and restaurants.  Cass, however, knows that this is not what her dad would have wanted.  Sutter Valley just speaks to Cass and her family in ways that nothing does.  Time passes by, but the land never changes.  If they built that highway, it would ruin one of Dan's most successful crops. 

Ultimately I agree with the protagonists.  It would be terrible to take some private property and build a highway over it just to bring more revenue into the state.  Especially when the owners do not want to relinquish.  I think that eminent domain is unconstitutional and that builders need to respect people's wishes to not raze their house and property.

A part of me, however, does not disagree with the Mayor of that town.  It would be nice to make Thomas Barr's land more accessible to handicapped people.  In fact, Steve loses his leg in the war, and it would be great for him.  I love the country, but sometimes I need some civilization and try to find the nearest Wal-Mart.

But all I know is that my hometown of Conyers, GA was a small rural town outside of Atlanta.  Then in 1996, the Olympics came and they built the GA Int'l Horsepark.  Then they built apartment complexes, a super Wal-Mart, IHOP, O'Charleys, restaurants, a new movie theater, and it's like they could not stop building.  There were nice houses and barns torn down to make way for this.  Along with the new businesses, the less refined people started moving into town and now Conyers is rather urban.  It's not safe like it used to be.

So yeah, the bug for money and advancement can really ruin a much cherished place.  But it can also enhance it.

I love Sky Valley, GA and Franklin, NC.  They are two towns next to each other in the mountains with beautiful national parks and mountain vistas.  My family goes there every year between Christmas and New Year's Day.  It feels like you are in heaven when you settle into the condo in Sky Valley.

But I am so glad that nearby Franklin has restaurants and even the Fun Factory.  A little progress is nice.  The Highlands nearby are also lovely and have nice tourist attractions without ruining the area.

But there is also a difference between the Highlands in NC and Helen, GA where they keep building really cute putt-putt places and tourist junk shops that really have nothing to do with the town.  The restaurants are over priced, and when Tim took me there, we were more excited about the Huddle House than we were about the restaurants.

If done properly, adding revenue to a country area can be a good thing.  Too much, and it could turn into the Conyers of today or even Gatlinburg which is completely a tourist town, now.

At least recently, Conyers added some parks and trails to the town, making it much more interesting.  I love those.  There's a trail in the city of Greenville, SC that also adds some green space back into the otherwise concrete desert.

The thing is, God created the planet.  And he did not feel the most satisfied until he build humans.  and it was his intention for humans to build cities and create inventions and learn how to go inside and change the weather.  We are created in his image, so we must do what we can to cultivate this land and let it change with the times.

But we also must remember to not cut down every single tree and pave up mountains.  We must not pave paradise and build a parking lot like Joni Mitchell suggests.  We still need a place for animals to live without too much change to their habitats.  And certainly, we must never trash the environment.

We also don't have to worry about destroying the planet either.  Our God won't allow that.  In Genesis 8:22, he promised Noah that seedtime and harvest, day and night, would never cease.  And in Revelation, he promises a New Heaven and New Earth that will be right here on a renewed version of this planet.  God intended for us to build cities, and he also will stop of from completely sapping up all our resources.

I think just now, people are figuring out how to contribute to God's creation on his terms without completely destroying his products.  The Gospel Coalition has a group called Every Square Inch.  Quoting Abraham Kuyper, Jesus takes every square inch of this planet and calls it "mine."  They are finding ways to care for the environment but in ways that also benefits people.  It's really exciting to see what happens if the Lord continues this.

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