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According to a popular Super Bowl commercial for Dodge Ram trucks, on the eighth day, God made a farmer. The commercial's still, muted photos and steady narration won over many viewers, with Mark Driscoll, Ed Stetzer, and Steve McCoy among the Christian leaders declaring it "best Super Bowl commercial of all time."

When I see an ad like this one, and I hear the powerful narration from Paul Harvey, that vision of life resonates with me, a lifelong Nebraskan. The people in that ad are my people. My great-grandfather Carl Fredstrom came to northeast Nebraska almost 120 years ago to farm alongside his wife Elise. Together they raised eight children on their small farm in Oakland, who in turn had large families of their own.

The scenes in "God Made a Farmer" stand in stark contrast to the skylines, highways, and cityscapes of other ads. Most of the dominant, culture-shaping institutions are exclusively urban and are often staffed by people who either left their small towns or have never lived in a small town to begin with. During this particular cultural moment, one of the temptations is for us to look down on small towns and the people that love them. It's rare to celebrate rural America during a time when the only stories we hear are from people who ran away screaming, and not those who stay and love their rural homes.

It's easy for us look with scorn at the hardworking farmers that have made up the bulk of this nation, considering them and their rural towns to be no more than backwards, repressive, and dying. Following the Super Bowl, the Awl whipped out a heaping helping of scorn, mocking the ad and the modern-day farmer himself. Other parodies followed, like "God Made a Factory ...

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February 2013

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