Did We Love 'God Made a Farmer' Too Much?
Overall, I'm grateful for ads like "God Made a Farmer," though I can't help feeling a twinge of doubt and regret about it as well. We shouldn't demean farmers and rural people, but we also shouldn't romanticize the very difficult reality of today's American farm. Farming, it seems, has always been difficult. While the narration nobly positioned the farmer in the creation story, a commentary in The American Conservative entitled "Would Cain Drive a Dodge?" compares this to the plight of Cain in Genesis. Samuel Goldman wrote:
… it does appear that the labor of farming is a punishment for Cain's crime. Here's how God describes the condition of the farmer: "When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth" (Genesis 4:12). That's hardly a ringing endorsement…. This misreading of Scripture didn't interfere with the ad's success. That's because, like other products designed to flatter our populist instincts, it has little to with the Biblical sources whose authority it claims. Rather, "God Made a Farmer" reflects the blend of American civil religion, Jeffersonian idealism, and corporate capitalism that has long defined America's public culture. The power of the ad suggests the formula still sells, even to consumers who regard themselves as too sophisticated for such a cloying brew.
Jake Meador blogs at Notes From a Small Place.