The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

I became a fan of Mumford and Sons last summer, I listened to their music over and over. One of my favorite songs is "Dust Bowl Dance," and I have concluded that this is my favorite rock song of all time.  Compelled by the song, I decided to learn a little about this era of American history.

This is one of the most melancholy books I have ever read. It tells the stories of farming families from Dalhart, Texas, Boise City, Oklahoma, Baca County, Colorado, and Inavale, Nebraska. As a hobby agriculturalist, I have suffered through dry years and poor decisions but my livelihood has never depended on my farming expertise. I cannot imagine the despair of these farmers as they waited for rain to come. I began praying for rain with each new chapter, hoping that the next year would bring relief, it didn't...

About two-thirds of the way through the book I concluded that the Dust Bowl was caused by a spiritual problem. We (Americans & maybe especially Christian-Americans) are dualistic...we separate spirit and matter. I am becoming less so, fueled by a growing knowledge of the created order and the incarnation of Christ. As such, I believe this agricultural tragedy was caused by two spiritual failings:
  1. Greed - people destroyed millions of acres of land trying to capitalize on high wheat prices without regard for the future.
  2. Disregard for the beauty and purpose of a place - or disregarding the created order. This region was a grassland like no other, abundant and regenerative food for herbivores. It had survived and thrived through brutal winters, fire, hail, flooding, incessant winds, and scorching hot summers, yet it still thrived and produced grass. It didn't survive the plow and the man behind the plow. 
I would like to think that we have learned our lesson but with today's commercial agricultural, GMO foods, and our consumption/waste problem, I don't think we have. God forgive us and be merciful to us.

A bonus video:


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