Living in God’s Country

Two campers with gear hiking through Bear Moun...

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With a title like the one that I have chosen, I might just be leading you astray… a least a little bit.  Maybe not.  Your thoughts on what God’s country is could very well be what I am thinking about right now.  Likewise, they could be very different.  But even so, I still understand why you would think that.

Many people in the United States, especially during the first half of the month of July, refer to the whole country as God’s country.  There is a feeling of patriotism, loyalty, and superiority that bring along an attitude of this land being divinely set apart to be a land above all others.  For other people, those feelings of patriotism and superiority last all year long.

I’m not saying that people feeling that way are wrong.  In fact, I share in those feelings.  But that is not what I am focusing my topic on today.

I have travelled all over the United States.  In pretty much every place I have been I have met people that love their hometown (or some location not far from their hometown) so much that they refer to it as God’s country.  I take that back.  Even on my trips to southern California or the New York City area there has been someone that has referred another area of the state as God’s country because it is so beautiful.  They don’t say it about anywhere in SoCal or NYC, but I have heard it said about the upstate areas of those two states.

Montana is where I hear it the most.  And I think I have to agree more with those folks than with others.  Have you been to Montana?  Specifically, have you been in the western half of Montana?  That is some great looking real estate.  Let me clarify… If you like wide open places with mountains and valleys and a cowboy feel to them, Montana has some great looking real estate.

But so do Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada… all for the same reasons.

If you have been to Hawaii, you might think of it as God’s country.  Well, maybe if you worship the Sun god, or the Sea god.  Maybe it is because you are a guy and worship the Hawaiian Tropic goddesses.  But I won’t count Hawaii right now (even though I have been to Maui and thought it was beautiful) because it isn’t part of the 48 contiguous states.  And for the same reason, Alaska isn’t included.  If someone wants to send me on an all-expense paid trip to Alaska so that I can experience the state, I will be glad to add it to my list.

I live in Utah.  I have lived in Utah my whole life, minus two years that I lived in Brazil, and 18 months that I lived in Houston, Texas.  Tomorrow I will be going on a backpacking trip in some of Utah’s mountains.  I will be going camping in God’s country.

I enjoy the mountains.  If I could buy one, build a cabin and live there for the rest of my life, I would be in heaven… or at least a little closer than the rest of you (hello, the elevation difference alone put’s me closer to heaven). For me, camping in the mountains is the most enjoyable way for me to enjoy all of God’s earthly creations.  There is flora and fauna (I still remember the term from my 4th grade Utah History class), there is clean air, and other than the sounds of nature, there is quiet.  To me, this is the place where I can feel more at one with God, where I am more in tune with Him, where I can feel more of His influence and watchful eye.

From a religious point of view, mountains are sacred ground to me.  And they must be sacred to God too because of how much he used them while interacting with man.  For example, Moses went up onto a mountain and received the Ten Commandments.  Abraham was told to go up onto the mountain to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Mountains were an integral part of religious teachings as shown in the Old Testament.

I will be going on this hike with five other adults and six teenage boys.  My son is one of them.  The fact that there are teenage boys coming along may cause it to not be as serene as it could have been, but this campout is for them.  They will get to experience something that not many teenagers get to experience.  It will be good for them.  It will be good for me to be with them.

If you don’t have mountains near where you live, find a place where you can experience the tranquility that the back country wilderness can give you.  Spend some time and rid yourself of stresses that come from life.  Try to become a little more attached to nature.  Get yourself away to your own version of “God’s country”.  It will do you some good.  And if you want to load a fifty pound pack on your back, camp out for four days, and do it with a teenage boy, you will get an even different point of view about life.  I just hope it is a good one.  As for me, I will enjoy this opportunity.  And when I get back, I may just write a travelogue and let you know what you missed… or have to look forward to.

Just another view from a Palmtree.

Nothing to see people… it’s just a birth certificate.

Did you see it, the document that supposedly will quiet all the doubters?  It has been all the hype lately.  In fact, it has prevented even more newsworthy items from getting the attention that they need.  Yep, I am talking about THE birth certificate.  It dispelled all the rumors, so can we move on now to something more important?

Yep, my birth certificate says that I was born in the Utah Valley Hospital on August 11, 1971.  But the hospital has undergone some growth… not only in size with the additions of multiple wings, but in name.  No longer the Utah Valley Hospital, it is known today as the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.  Is my birth certificate valid anymore?  Will the validity of my birth start to be questioned if I run for public office?  If so, it won’t be the first time.  I don’t mean that it will be the first time for me, because I have never run for public office.  I mean it won’t be the first time my birth certificate will have been questioned.

The first time it happened I was living in Brazil.  I was trying to get a temporary resident card so that I could stay for two years and not get arrested for being there illegally.  For some reason, maybe for kicks and giggles, the guy I was working through at the police station questioned my documentation.  I just didn’t understand.  Literally, I didn’t understand.  I had only been in the country for a few days and couldn’t speak Portuguese very well.

I think the fact that I couldn’t speak Portuguese proved that I wasn’t Brazilian.  However, I don’t think this is what he was questioning.  Maybe he thought I was really a German, maybe Australian, or possibly Canadian.  I don’t know, and will probably never know.  Yet the truth was there right in front of him… I was an extremely white guy who couldn’t speak his language that was on the verge of wetting my pants hoping not to get arrested.  I should have given him my documentation before I opened my mouth to speak.  Nobody would have questions my nationality at that point.

Kind of similar to the situation this country has been facing for the last two-and-a-half years.  Ever since President Obama got elected, and even more since his inauguration, people around the country have claimed that he isn’t one of us… I mean American born… and that he is serving illegally as the president.  Well, that argument may finally get put to rest.

Barack Obama finally released a copy of his birth certificate to the world, proving that a) he has one, b) that he was born in Hawaii, and c) that he is a Leo.  He even held a press conference today to present the document (clarification… to tell the people that it was available online) and ask if we as a country can focus on the real issues at hand, such as who will be the number one pick in tomorrow’s NFL draft.

I learned a few things from how these events played out today.  In the interest of time (and boredom) I will only mention a couple.  First, I learned that Obama is exactly 10 years and 7 days older than me.  I know it isn’t all that important in many people’s point of view, but it was something I didn’t know. 

Second, I learned that I needed to have Donald Trump with me in Brazil.  He takes all the credit for getting Obama’s birth certificate made public (forget about the other thousands of doubters in the country that demanded it be released) and even said in a press conference today that he was glad for the part he played in getting it released.  He could have talked the federal policeman I was working with into believing anything about me.

By the way… Do you think Obama would have released the document if Trump weren’t considering a run for the White House?  Yeah, neither do I.

So, where do we stand now as a nation?  We are still in economic turmoil.  Some people still love Obama while others still hate him.  And Donald Trump is more arrogant today than he was yesterday (can you believe that is even possible?).  I was still born in Provo, Utah, and gas prices are still too high.  But we know that Obama was born in Hawaii because of a simple document.  We truly are better off, whether the paper was real or Photoshopped, because I wrote this blog and you read it.  Now on to better things.

Just another view from a Palmtree.