I am not a conventionally religious man. I do have a spiritual belief, but cannot really say what. I hate it when churchmen indicate that theirs is the only true way, and to hear Protestants talk of Papists, and Moslems refer to Infidels saddens me. It seems that all religious denominations have good intentions, to provide for the spiritual needs of their believers, but men interpret these religions to suit their own ends, usually to give themselves power over others. When I have made a good chair, the mystery deepens, for I am not that clever, and I feel I ought to thank someone for it!
My uncertainty reminds me of a story. An old Irish farmer is lying on his deathbed. A priest is with him, holding up a cross and urgently asking him: “Do you renounce the Devil and all his works?” The poor old man does not answer. The priest asks again, louder “Do you renounce the devil and all his works?” The priest has his ear near the old man’s lips, and eventually hears him whisper: “Father, this is no time to be making enemies.”
— John Brown, Issue 95 of Good Woodworking magazine
17 thoughts on “John Brown Week: Day 7”
Very wise and timely post. Thanks Chris and John.
Amen, brother. Amen!
Speaking of farmers and religion: a new family, destitute, moved onto a large homestead that had never been worked. After a few weeks, the local minister came out to visit with the family and invite them to church. The husband and wife listened to the minister, thanked him for his neighborliness and promised to come into town when they could. Over the next couple years the wife would make it to church from time to time, but the husband was so caught up in sod busting, tilling, planting, weeding and harvesting, that he just couldn’t make it. Finally the minister thought it was time he renewed his invitation to the farmer and went out to visit. He was amazed at the transformation on the homestead—corn, wheat, vegetables, an amazing array of flourishing fields. The minister turned to the farmer and exclaimed, “Just look at God’s work”. The farmer paused for a moment, turned to the minister and asked, “Don’t you remember what this place looked like when God was working it alone?”
Well said. The best of the season to all!
Sir, it is true that some people use religion as a means to gain power or substance, but there is no religion that will prepare you for the eternal resting place…..only a relationship can do that, what a friend we have in Jesus, give your heart Him brother and religion will find no resting place in your soul
Good day and God Bless
Gotta love how evangelicals can wriggle their hearts past any sort of criticism.
Being a craftsman, this verse has always spoken to me…
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
— 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4
Back when I was doing shows, I would comment about ‘We do this … and then we do … ‘ Then the question would come, ‘How many are there in your shop?’ I would answer, ‘Just me and God.’
Either a conversation would develop or they would just walk out. Both were good.
I often pray to The Great Chairmaker above.
You are right, we should. Though He prefers to be called GOD ALMIGHTY
I was interested to read how Brown had evolved his chairman process in the ten years since his book was published. He was not locked into very much, which speaks well for him.
“When I have made a good chair, the mystery deepens, for I am not that clever, and I feel I ought to thank someone for it!”
Wow. This really resonates with me. For the past year or so, I have been making wooden-wheeled (geared) clocks “from scratch.” It seemed like an interesting and challenging thing to do, and gave me a chance to honor and connect with the lives and work of my Black Forest clockmaker ancestors. I studied many of the old books on clockmaking and designed my own historically accurate solid wood cases and calculated gear trains, then turned the wheel blanks and cut the teeth and assembled the movements and installed them in their authentically-painted cases. I really tried to do things “the old way,” not only because it was difficult, but to get a better idea of how things actually were all those many years ago.
It was a lot harder to do than I thought it would be. I had no plans and the old books were my only guides. I had to make many of my own tools. The setting up the strike train to release at the proper moment and run correctly was an especially burdensome task, and there were quite a few clocks that ended up in the wood stove or were cannibalized for the next attempt.
What’s weird is that after all the moments of failure and frustration, when I would stomp away from the project in deep despair, convinced that I would never get the stupid clock to run right, the answer I needed to my problem would inevitably flash into my mind, fully-formed, like a bolt of lightning from beyond!
Now some may say that this was just my subconscious mind working out the necessary solutions, but I eventually began to see these events, which kept happening over and over, as something more, because like John Brown, “I am not that clever.” Sometimes the answers were downright crazy and seemed to be completed unconnected to anything I had read, which to be frank, startled me a little.
I have never been a particularly religious man, but what the heck? Did I have a muse of some kind? Were my ancestors helping me in some way? And when I finally achieved success and sat there watching that first good clock ticking away on my workshop wall, it was as if the centuries collapsed into nothingness and I could directly sense my ancestors’ own experiences with _their_ clocks.
At that moment, like John Brown, I felt a _profound_ sense of gratitude well up inside of me, not only for the satisfaction of finally completing a working clock, but for whatever helped me get to that point.
This clockmaking experience has changed me, to be sure.
What an awesome dude.
Peace on Earth Good Will Toward Men
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