My friend Enola Gay’s blog has seen a lively discussion on the ethics of Preparing, based on some criticism she received by a fellow named J. DeWaters. This morning I was inspired to write a rebuttal to Mr. DeWaters’ posts.
I’ve copied his two posts below, followed by my rebuttal. Enola's original post from which this is based - and which I thought was brilliantly written - can be found here.
J DeWaters said...
Your preparation is driven by a genuine fear of the future. You do not trust the direction of your country and you do not hold the morality of your neighbors in high regard. You fear violence, dwell on the consequences thereof, and expend resources in an effort to demonstrate both to yourself and others that you are actually doing something about it. You are comforted by a hoard of supplies and a small armory. You take advice from prophets of doom and provide ear and lip to individuals and happenings that corroborate your general state of unease. You raise your children and spend the bulk of your life preparing and training for something that may never come to be.
Why do you choose to live in this prison? Why not harness your God given talents to spread the Good News – to bring peace and comfort to those in pain, to bring hope to those in distress, to be a memorable example to many who have no one to turn to much less look up to?
What if the future events you anticipate never come to be? Your food will rot, your metal will rust, and your batteries will run out of acid. Will you toil to replenish and maintain when He returns and then say to Him, I spent my time guarding your talent that I buried for I knew you were a hard man, reaping what you did not sow and gathering where you did not scatter?
Stop doing the bidding of the prince of the air and choose to apply your resources, time and talents to build ever larger hoards’ of treasure in a place where guns and fences are not needed.
July 13, 2010 6:47 PM
J DeWaters said...
NoCal Gal, it would be interesting to see the proportion of “good works” vs “selfish prepping”. Not that I recommend “good works” as a primary motive but for the sake of discussion I’ll use the term.
If one spends 50 hours a week to earn a dollar and then turns around and spends a good chunk of the discretionary portion of that dollar on prepping supplies and a good chunk of the remaining weekly hours on prepping work, there isn’t much left for “good works”. At the very least it illustrates that the primary motive is something other than “good works”.
A common thread amongst the prepper and survivalist crowd is the quest for isolation from population centers and possession of land. Enola, as an avid participant in the movement demonstrates this. This tendency is indicative of a selfish motive where one essentially gives up on winning the hearts and minds of fellow man. This is further exacerbated by pulling children out of schools and training them at home. In doing this, they are like Jonah refusing to go to Ninevah. If God wants you to be the salt and light to the world, why do you shy from this role?
The most important goal bar none is the saving of souls. If you focus on that, on doing the bidding of the highest authority, the least of your worries will be running out of food or getting killed when and if in some distant time society falls apart. Until that happens, plenty of capable and powerful people are bound in chains of fear and unease to actually do the work that really, really needs to be done. The prepping is a major distraction. Surely you are more valuable than a sparrow?
July 15, 2010 8:14 PM
This is in reply to J DeWaters’ extraordinary posts on the subject of Preparing in general and Enola Gay’s efforts in particular. I will add that our family knows Enola and her family quite well, which is more than J.D.W. can claim.
J.D.W., Christian families who are preparing for an uncertain future are doing so because we believe we’ve been called by God. It’s hard to ignore that sort of summons.
I find it very amusing that you feel Enola Gay is violating Christian principles by storing food and other resources. I also find it amusing that you think SHE should obey YOUR interpretation of Scripture rather than her own. Since you do not know Enola and her family, you have no way to prove your erroneous assumptions about their ministerial efforts. You assume that she is sacrificing her treasure in heaven in order to accumulate treasure on earth. That would be hilarious if it weren’t so nasty.
I know this might be a difficult concept for you to grasp, but a lot of people are capable of multitasking. In other words, Enola can buy an extra bag or two of beans at the grocery store AND discuss the Gospel to those who are open to hearing it. Wow, she’s talented!
You also imply Enola is “selfish” for following God’s calling to provide for her family. With five children, four of whom are utterly dependent on their parents to provide for them, how can you accuse her of misapplying her talents by ensuring her kids will have full bellies if the bleep hits the fan? Huh?
Speaking as a friend, I can testify that there are few people I’ve met who are as effective at spreading the Gospel as Enola and her family. I don’t know why you think they’re “living in fear” of the future (please see Proverbs 31:25) or why being prepared is mutually exclusive from loving one’s neighbors and spreading the Gospel.
Scripture recognizes as far back as the time of David (Proverbs 6:6-11) or arguably Genesis (when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream) that being prepared against future hardship is not only a smart thing to do, but it brings great peace of mind AND the ability to be charitable to those in need. I cannot fathom why you fail to see the connection.
You mentioned that “A common thread amongst the prepper and survivalist crowd is the quest for isolation from population centers and possession of land.” Um, hate to tell you this, but if you want to farm, you need land. We’re farmers. Nothing sinister about that. And our families are hardly “isolated” except by urban standards. Both of us simply moved where we did because we wanted to raise our children in the country. Nothing sinister in that either. And because it snows a great deal where we live, there are times we’re trapped in our homes during the winter and unable to get to the grocery store for a week or two at a time. Don’t you think it’s wise to have supplies on hand for such an occasion? Now apply that preparedness mentality toward the almost inevitable financial collapse of our economy, and a few pounds of rice and beans start to sound like a darned good idea.
You also say: “This tendency [to live rural] is indicative of a selfish motive where one essentially gives up on winning the hearts and minds of fellow man.” Um, hate to burst your bubble again, but we do have people around us. True, we’re not in the city. But there actually ARE people who live in rural areas, imagine that. And those people just might be open to lending an ear toward Enola’s ministry as well. Imagine that again.
As far as keeping our children in public schools so they can minister …well, buddy, you’re living in la-la land if you think that’s an effective way to spread the Gospel to unbelievers. You say, “God wants you to be the salt and light to the world, why do you shy from this role?” Studies have demonstrated over and over and over that keeping Christian children in public schools does little more than turn them into unChristian children.
("Minister to public school kids?" my 14-yr-old daughter exploded while reading this post. "If I tried to minister to public school kids, I'd be stuffed into a trash can with a wedgie!" "Besides," my 12-yr-old daughter added, "The teachers wouldn't let us.")
Since a mother’s highest calling is to raise her children to love the Lord, the best thing she can do is keep them out of government indoctrination centers where peer pressure will turn them away from God. We can be salt and light to anyone whose path we cross, but we’ll be putting that light under a bushel if we fail to raise our children in faith – for which government schools are a well-known detriment.
Bottom line, preppers (especially Christian ones) aren’t living in a prison of fear. On the contrary, we can face an uncertain economic future with calm, with peace, and with comfort because we are obeying our God-driven call to Prepare.
Might I suggest, my friend, that you take your Bible and your holier-than-thou hiney to Costco and buy a fifty pound bag of rice? This way you won’t become a burden to the rest of us if the time comes when you need food. After all, I’m sure you don’t want to be the one knocking on Enola’s door and expecting her to shell out some of her provisions because you were too much in denial to provide for yourself when you had the chance.
To recap Proverbs 31, of which you seem to be lamentably ignorant, here it is from verse 10 on (with a little emphasis added):
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
BRINGING HER FOOD FROM AFAR.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she PROVIDES FOOD FOR HER FAMILY
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and HER LAMP DOES NOT GO OUT AT NIGHT.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 SHE OPENS HER ARMS TO THE POOR
AND EXTENDS HER HANDS TO THE NEEDY.
21 WHEN IT SNOWS, SHE HAS NO FEAR for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
SHE CAN LAUGH AT THE DAYS TO COME.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and DOES NOT EAT THE BREAD OF IDLENESS.
28 Her children arise and CALL HER BLESSED;
her husband also, and HE PRAISES HER:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Speaking as a friend, in my humble opinion Enola is a true Proverbs 31 woman. I look forward to hearing your reasons as to why she is not.