I really enjoy short documentaries, particularly those that highlight some interesting piece of life in Appalachia. Salt of Kanawha is one of those documentaries. The short film is a seven minute account of one family's attempt to revive a once thriving industry in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia. Though I would contend that the God of the Bible is the Creator of all things (including the components involved in the production of salt) and not mother nature, the video is nonetheless quite intriguing.
The image that forms the background to this blog is an image from what was once a vibrant coal mining community called Tom's Creek. As the picture portrays, that once thriving little community has been passed over by time and is now overshadowed by modern coal mining structures. Driving through Tom's Creek, one can see remnants of old coke ovens occasionally jutting forth from the greenery while a rusty and lonesome tipple stands feebly behind the tree line next to the road.
Tom's Creek is a short distance from downtown Coeburn in Wise County, Virginia. My grandmother on the Kilgore side of the family spent some of her younger years living in this small coal mining town. She has described Tom's Creek to me as "a good place to live. You knew everybody. Everybody was pretty good people...For the most part they were good, honest, hard working people." From baseball to the company store, Tom's Creek as explained to me by my grandmother was a place of camaraderie and community. She speaks of Tom's Creek as one who knows; one who experienced firsthand life in a coal camp.
Presbyterian missionary to the mountains, Edward O. Guerrant (1838-1916), knew something of Tom's Creek, too. Guerrant was born between the bluegrass and the Appalachian foothills of Kentucky. He was trained in medicine, fought for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and eventually entered seminary at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. It was at Union that Guerrant sat at the feet, so to speak, of the well known southern Presbyterian theologian R.L. Dabney. As Mark Huddle notes of the two men, "Guerrant and Dabney...established a close personal and professional relationship that lasted throughout their lives."
The impressing of divine things on the hearts and affections of men is evidently one great and main end for which God has ordained that His Word delivered in the holy Scriptures should be opened, applied, and set home upon men, in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have good commentaries and expositions on the Scripture, and other good books of divinity; because, although these may tend as well as preaching to give men a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the things of the Word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on men's hearts and affections. God hath appointed a particular and lively application of His Word to men in the preaching of it, as a fit means to affect sinners with the importance of the things of religion, and their own misery and necessity of a remedy, and the glory and sufficiency of a remedy provided; and to stir up the pure minds of the saints, and quicken their affections, by often bringing the great things of religion to their remembrance, and setting them before them in their proper colours, though they know them, and have been instructed in them already (2 Pet. 1:12, 13). And, particularly, to promote those two affections in them [of] love and joy."