Taming the Mississippi River: A God-Given Mandate?

Cows grazing on top of an next to the Mississippi River Levee near Friars Point, MS during the Mississippi River Flood of 2011. Photo by The Delta Bohemian

Cows grazing on top of an next to the Mississippi River Levee near Friars Point, MS during the Mississippi River Flood of 2011. Photo by The Delta Bohemian



Are the levees lining both sides of the swollen Mississippi River sufficient to hold back the tumescent waterway? According to many the levees are doing what they were designed to do, according to others the levees are not enough to be the only line of defense, and yet to some the Mississippi River levees shouldn’t even be attempting to restrain the often languid behemoth.

Pontificus and his “bestest” childhood friend and a Great American, Mr. Lil John, recently had a conversation concerning man’s attempt to control and harness natural resources and whether it was scriptural to do so or not. What Pontificus concludes below is in no way reflective of Mr. Lil John’s opinion, as he will likely opine about said subject as soon as the 12 feet of water covering his land subsides enough so he can plant a crop.

Though some folks–many within the Christian Church–find the creation account to be fictional or merely symbolic, Pontificus believes it to be an exact, literal account of God’s forming of the heavens, the earth, all the earth contains, and the giving of life to man and woman with a mandate to subdue the earth.

Now, subduing the Earth does not mean treating it like crap as we too often do in the industrialized world and in third world countries intent on depleting their natural resources while seeking the same profits as their grown up cousins–first world nations. Subduing should not equal consumerism.

In the creation account in the Bible, Moses recorded in the book of Genesis in accordance with God’s will the following:
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'”

God stated that He created men and women in His image. We are His most important creation and He gave men and women a mandate from the get go: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”

King David, whom God loved, in Psalm 8 made a similar connection with the mandate given in Genesis: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

All that the earth contains was given to His creation formed in His image to use wisely, perspicaciously, and for the good of mankind. This mandate, however, must jibe with other balancing scriptures such as Leviticus 18:28, which states, “And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.”

King David penned in Psalm 145:9, ” The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” In Psalm 65: 9, he wrote, “You care for the land and water it; You enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so You have ordained it.”
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that not one sparrow falls to the earth without God’s consent. God deeply cares for all His creation and He desires that we do the same–we who are made in His image.

Now Pontificus, how do all these scripture references relate to the Mississippi River and humanity’s attempt to control it?

When Pontificus lived out west and was blessed to be able to ride his motorcycle solo for week’s on end across many a western state with no agenda or plan other than the open road and the desire to be free, he loved fly fishing in what were called “free stone” rivers–meaning rivers without dams, weirs, or any other manmade contrivance designed to alter their flow, course, or intentions.

However, if Americans took God’s mandate to fill the earth, then westerners and others must deal with harnessing and redirecting one of God’s most precious natural resources, water. There always seems to be a healthy tension between those who want to use natural resources almost exclusively for mankind’s consumer-oriented benefit and those who want those same invaluable resources to be left alone and unregulated for the benefit of all God’s creation. In Pontificus’s estimation, this healthy-though-often-turbulent tension is necessary for some semblance of balance in God’s and man’s economy.

Pontificus has become demonstrably “green” over the last couple of decades, as he has participated more in recreational activities dependent upon pristine environmental conditions, but he is also still acutely aware of the need for cultures dependent on growth to be able to responsibly use our diminishing natural resources to improve the condition of mankind, but the question remains, “At what cost is ‘progress’ attained?”

If there were no levees, then millions of acres on both sides of the Mighty Mississippi River would be uninhabitable and since they are already inhabited to not maintain our levee structure would be cruel and inhumane. However, those who better understand nature’s natural tendencies and those who don’t want to over control “mother nature” should continue to make their voices heard, in order to achieve balance and to stay the hand of consumer-oriented individuals who would rob, deplete, and defile the earth for the sake of profits and selfishness. God help us and give us wisdom.


WATCH THE VIDEO of the Mississippi River Flood 2011 taken 4 days prior to Flood Stage Crest over Coahoma County near Clarksdale, Mississippi
[youtube width=”600″ height=”350″]https://youtu.be/5h3M0wJ-xsI[/youtube]



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  1. Hmmmmmmmmmmm!!! What if “The Great Timber Barons” of the late 19th century and early 20th century had not cleared The Delta of it’s Vast and Virgin hardwoods? Lamb Fish Timber Company,Delta and Pine Land (Owned by The British Empire) come to mind. Lamb Fish Timber, headquarted in Charleston, MS, in Tallahatchie County, owned the World’s largest Hardwood Mill durind this time in the early 20th century. They constructed the still standing, Lamb Fish Bridge over the Coldwater River near the Brazil community.Complete with attached rail line for transporting their timber to the mill in Charleston.

    How many jobs were created because of this brand of commercialism? How much land was purshased from such companies by some of our ancestors that eventually created the Agricultural (mainly cotton) boom of the middle 1900’s. Pontificus, can you imagine the U.S. A.’s role in WWII if you simply take away our worldly monopoly in the cotton market as a single example.

    Your post has supplied myself and I’m sure many more Bohemians with much to ponder. I may be comparing my apples to your oranges. Not sure. Anxious to read what Lil John’s Opine. What about it J.B.?

  2. Thanks for comment Spikehead! Well said!

  3. Cool video P.W. Hard to pick up on fimiliar landmarks without being there. J.B. has said we will go up after he gets his cotton in. Looking forward to it. Hope you will make it too.

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