Scorned Consequences

Faith is not belief in spite of the circumstances, faith is life lived in scorn of the consequences.

Clarence Jordan


Possibly my most enjoyable era of history is the American Civil War, it has intrigued me since I was a child looking through books my Dad had on the pictorial history of the war.  The underlining issues interested me as well, slavery, cotton.   I taught the Civil War in all of my American History classes, forcing my students to read about King Cotton, teaching about the differences between the industrial North and the agricultural South, about the social structure that was developed in the South during the near-200 years of slavery and how that culture didn’t die easy after the Civil War.  Sharecropping quickly took the place of slavery and for more than a century the sins of the Deep South have plagued and haunted our society.


We made it to the deep South a few weeks ago and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t prepared for the cotton fields, and the old “shotgun shacks”.  I had read hundreds of pages about all of this stuff, but actually seeing it in person as we drove through Southern Georgia was eerie and more difficult than I could have imagined.  I can’t fully understand the continued faith in God these men and women continued to show.  Cotton plantation slaves had to endure difficulties that very few people have had to endure over the centuries.  As we drove past the cotton fields I imagined the slaves out in the fields singing songs of freedom, songs of faith like this old slave spiritual:

“He have been wid us, Jesus,
He still wid us, Jesus,
He will be wid us, Jesus,
Be wid us to the end.”

The historic racism of the South fell on my shoulders like a load of bricks.  As we drove I could physically feel this tool of Satan as it’s remnants of  hatred and violence lingered.  Clarence Jordan, the founder of Koinonia, battled this on the front lines for nearly 30 years.  He was a remarkable man.  He taught simplicity, he taught reconciliation, he taught the Gospel.  Jordan persevered through quite a bit, KKK bombings on the farm, boycotts of Koinonia products, investigations that Koinonia was a Communist front.  Near the end of his life he sometimes believed that the Koinonia “experiment” was a failure.  But through it all, Jordan believed in the Love of Jesus over all and scorned the consequences of proclaiming that Love.  He was truly inspiring.

Spending a week at Koinonia taught us a lot about intentional community, racial reconciliation, love for our earth through sustainable agricultural practices, as well as permaculture and humanure.  All wonderful things that help us demonstrate our love for each other, as well as our love for God.  The people at Koinonia farm are attempting to create a community that puts love of God and love of people in the center of everything they do.  Sometimes however, people muddle all of that up.  And by the way, this has been true at every community we have visited, including the “little community” of the traveling Mustard Seed.  We let our ideas, our beliefs, and our desires to see these ideas and beliefs come true, to supercede love.   It’s not that our ideas are wrong.  It could be liberation of the oppressed, racial reconciliation, sustainable agricultural practices, or living in community, all good things in themselves, but they can not be what we are “about”.  We must be about love first, love of God and love of our neighbors.  Then these “good things” will overflow out of that love.


2 Responses

  1. Amen, Amen and Amen!
    Preach it Brother!!!
    The Thornburgs first migrated to the US into N. Carolina. They were Quakers against slavery. Many slowly moved out of the South and into the mid west, particularly Indiana and Ohio, because they were against slavery. Many of them became a part of the border underground Rail Way system that moved slaves north to freedom.

  2. I am grateful for the wisdom and insight growing in you and coming out of you as the miles and experiences roll by. You’re teaching us. Please keep teaching.


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