From NASCAR Outreach to A. A. Hodge to Hogtown to Utah and Isaac Watts, We're Going Places!

Yesterday morning a former pastor of this church filled the pulpit as Marion took a previously scheduled "study break." Lauris Vidal was recently affiliated with Motor Racing Outreach, but now he and his wife have a ministry geared particularly to jet-powered raceboat racers (which is not to say that the racers are jet-powered, but the boats). Don't get much more Southern than that! His sermon was not in Pr. Clark's expositional style, but was rather anecdotal, so that I am able to tell you that while he lives in Deland (north of Orlando), and that he's from an old-time Gainesville family. He described his family's former home on SW 2nd Ave, which would be two blocks south of what are now the Four Sad Sisters pictured in this old post. It's now an office building, but he told of flipping through his grandparent's stuff in the garage when the house was sold, and finding that great-great-(?)grandfather and his great-grandfather had both been ruling elders at First Presbyterian Church here in Gaineville. I think that's right. Anyway, he found his great-grandfather's A. A. Hodge's commentary on the Westminster Confession, signed and dated by the ancestor in 1865 (which was the year what Rev. Vidal would call the "forces of Northern Aggression" sallied out of Jacksonville, met some Confederates at Olustee, and went back to Jacksonville).

Just imagining what this place was like then boggles the mind. It still would have been known more popularly as Hogtown; the tribute to the bumbling General Gaines of the Seminole Wars was still in the sticking-to process. The town would have been pretty focused around Hogtown Creek and the areas immediately east of today's downtown. I really don't know much about the area, but I'm pretty sure there weren't any plantations right around Gainesville...maybe north toward High Springs, but this isn't the sort of country for sprawling farms. It would be interesting to get some old maps of the town, see how much the races mingled, if at all, and where the poor parts of town would have been. Of course, with only some 250 people in town, things probably weren't too far apart. The Second Seminole War, the "biggie," was not 25 years gone by, but restlessness had continued, and the "Third Seminole War," which was only called a War because it had been preceded by the First and Second, had only ended in 1858...still, this was frontier action.

It's interesting to me to see how Florida's geography (location, terrain, climate) and history retarded its development so that living in Florida was like living in a western territory. The Civil War actions in the state looked more like the stuff that happened out in California and Texas that it did even the less grandiose western Mississippi River Valley campaigns. 'Course, that doesn't discourage the pickup-trucked good ol' boys 'round here.

So there you are...a farmer or a rancher (Payne's Prairie to the south of here is good ranching land, and there's even a small herd of buffalo living in Payne's Prairie State Park) or summat lahk dat, and at evening time you sit outside in your rocking chair, surrounded by mosquitoes, and you open your Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Now that is a cool image.

Movin' along...

Yesterday I had a lot of fun with the high school utes at ute group. I began by telling them that they would not enjoy tonight's activity, which defused much of the inherent lameness I knew the following activity would be burdened with, and fun could be had.

I had them versify parts of Psalm 73. Well, not exactly versify. The result of each team's labor (by "each" I mean "either," there were only two teams) had to be metered and rhymed, but didn't have to be a verse version of the could be a loose sort of thing. As an example I read one of Isaac Watt's Psalm 73s, which only charitably could be sung as a psalm, although it was obviously based on the psalm. But perhaps I shouldn't have emphasized the flexibility of the assignment. It seems one of the young men understood from the psalm, and communicated to us in verse, that though the wicked might prosper for a while, in the end God would bring reward and prosperity to the godly. Right, right. And that the reward would involve sitting on the beach and sipping margaritas.

I don't know about the particular choice of drink, but that doesn't sound too bad. I just knew I was connecting with the kids!