Happy 4th of July! The time of our nation’s celebration of freedom marks a sort of culmination in the seasonal life of the American garden. By now, the mad dash of planting and cultivating that spring inspires has grown and bloomed to a point of enjoyment; hopefully a few homegrown tomatoes will grace the weekend’s grilled burgers, not to mention ripe blueberries ready for pie!
However, for those of us in warm-turned-hot climates, this weekend signals our retreat from the garden, whew! Enough tending and keeping, it’s just too hot. We will likely see 100 degree temperatures greeting July; all I can muster is near-dawn watering, then a scamper back indoors to the air conditioning.
Book Review for Summer Reading
Which doesn’t mean I have to leave the garden behind: The season is ripe for garden reading as well, another favorite summer pastime.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
It is time to sit in the shade, or near a window overlooking the garden, and dig into a great read. Just add mint-sprigged iced tea! My recommendation is not a gardening book (surprise!) but a book celebrating American heritage. Gardeners love to pass along goodies, and this book has encouraged my gratitude for my country and a deeper embrace of what it means to be American. Each of us is called to stewardship of God’s freedom, and this book helped me to understand what has been entrusted to my care.
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Live as servants of God.
1 Peter 2:16 NCV
If you are joining us from another country, please be welcomed and blessed by the ideals and freedoms that inspired the founding of our nation.
The Printer and the Preacher by Randy Petersen
The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America, by Randy Petersen, is a must-read. Mr. Petersen chronicled the relationship of these two great men in a masterful way. Each of them was a cedar of Lebanon in their own right; that is, tall figures in our history, whose influence spread across the thirteen colonies, refreshing, sheltering, and supporting those around them in productive lives (see imagery in Ezekiel 31). Petersen shows how their side-by-side, interdependent endeavors stirred colonists to take hold of the opportunities the new land presented them.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 NIV
George Whitefield, a man of faith: “It is no stretch to say that George is a spiritual forefather of just about everyone in the English-speaking world who claims to be “born again” in Jesus.” Ben Franklin, a man of learning: “Ben’s fertile mind was always seeking new ways to get things done.”
Ben understood that a successful American society would need meaningful involvement from all classes. His newspaper informed and motivated a broad swath of Philadelphia’s citizens. And he saw Whitefield’s message giving commoners the spiritual confidence to own their own destinies.
—Randy Petersen, The Printer and the Preacher, page 152
Peterson’s insight offers many opportunities to apply these leaders’ story to our own journeys as free people; the author reveals how much of what these forefathers encountered and endured is curiously relevant today. Well-written, thoroughly organized, enjoyable—this literary presentation will be a summer highlight, strengthening faith and commitment to praise God for his marvelous works in our hearts and history.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord
Psalm 33:12 NIV
Reading is Freedom
Next Blog: Still looking for indoor gardening activities, I will report on my trip to BRIT, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, a research library in nearby Ft. Worth. It is the work of Ben Franklin as told by Randy Petersen that energized me to engage BRIT, cherishing our public libraries, free and accessible.
It’s clear that Ben also understood the social value of knowledge. If only rich people could afford books, then the lower classes could never rise up—power would remain in the hands of a few highborn leaders. As a middle-class business owner, Ben had an interest in breaking this class system. A public library was not just an entertainment center— it was “power to the people,” an early blow for democracy.
—Randy Petersen, The Printer and the Preacher, page 111
[ The Lord’s Message of Freedom ] The Lord God has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free, and to tell the prisoners they are released.
Isaiah 61:1 NCV
Randy Petersen, The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2015
©2016 Shelley S. Cramm
A shady spot for summer reading – Reading is Freedom!
The Printer and the Preacher tucked in cedar boughs