"Scarecrow Religion"

"Haw! Haw! Haw!" laughed Jim Crow. "Haw! Haw! Haw! Haw!" Jim Crow was literally convulsed with hilarity. In his rollicking joviality he threw his head back so far he almost fell off his perch on the old dead tree overlooking Wotta Chump's garden. Haw! Haw! Haw! Haw! Jim Crow just could not control his mirth as he fairly doubled up and swayed back and forth giving vent to his boisterous glee. Denny Bluejay's curiosity got the best of him and he joined in the commotion and perched on a near-by tree impatiently calling, "What's so funny? Tell us what is the big joke." However, Denny did not have long to wait for an answer because he soon discovered that not only was Jim Crow amused, but, all the birds in Twitterville were tittering and snickering with spirits as gay as a lark. "Tsch, tsch, tsch," bubbled Roly Blackbird, "What people won't do to fool us birds. Tsch, tsch, tsch." All Twitterville was simply exhilarating in the biggest news scoop of the season, and some of the birds couldn't even hunt worms for laughing.

It all started when the chump family decided to plant their garden in a lovely plot of ground bordering on Twitterville. Wotta Chump and his wife, Laisy Chump, brought their tools and dug up the ground, while all the little Chumps helped. Actually the ground was not tilled very well before Laisy began tossing a few beans in the ill-prepared soil. Slothful Chump helped his dad get rid of the seed potatoes as quickly as possible. Ruthless and Helpless Chump had a gay time scattering the radish seeds along with the lettuce and carrots. After all the seeds were planted in their crooked rows, the Chumps got busy and erected a very elaborate scarecrow. The upright was at least twelve feet high, and they covered the enormous arms with rags and old clothes, and then they fastened on tin cans so they would rattle in the wind. When it was stuffed with straw it was a strangely grotesque and fearsome looking sentinel guarding the Chump's garden.

Jim Crow had kept a wary eye on the Chump intrusion of near-by Twitterville from the very start. He had a "bird's eye view" of everything, including the curious monstrosity that continually flapped its wings in the wind. He flew over it several times, getting closer and closer each time as his curiosity overcame his fears. He was certain there was something "phony" about this oddity in the garden, but how could he be absolutely sure. Just when Jim could scarcely stand the suspense any longer, Molly Wren came along and broke the case wide open. Fanny Warbler dared Molly Wren to see who would fly closest to the scarecrow. Molly won easily when she landed on the cross-piece and began chirping saucily, "This can't hurt anyone anyhow." To prove her point she began making her nest in the scarecrow's pocket. Jim Crow furtively watched every move that Molly made, and then it finally dawned on him that the scarecrow was actually quite helpless and harmless. With this he just burst into one spontaneous derisive guffaw and before you knew it, all Twitterville was rocked with gales of laughter.
Not very far from Twitterville there was another garden owned by Honest Toiler. The toilers prepared their fertile soil into a soft mulch and then planted their seed in straight rows. The birds took notice and often wished they could help themselves, but the Toilers were always around with their implements protecting their garden from weeds and pests. As the long summer began to turn into autumn, Honest Toiler's garden produced an abundant supply of choice vegetables and fruit for the approaching winter. But when Wotta Chum came to harvest his crop he found, to his dismay, there was very little worth carting home. The birds had picked most of his berries, while the weeds choked out almost everything else that was planted. Wotta gazed ruefully at the bedraggled scarecrow and blamed it for not taking better care of things. The scarecrow mockingly returned the empty stare. The Chumps had little to anticipate as they faced the prospect of a long barren winter. Wotta had to admit it was useless to leave the care and protection of his garden to a scarecrow. Honest Toiler's garden proved that personal care and supervision were necessary to bring satisfactory results.

The next Sunday was Thanksgiving Sunday, so Wotta Chump and his family decided to attend the local community church, patronized regularly by the Toilers. Although Wotta expected very little from the sermon, he pricked up his ears when the minister read his text. He said, "Thou shalt be like a watered garden. And like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Isa. 58:11b. The minister called attention to the many times our Lord used things in nature to portray spiritual lessons. "The sower went forth to sow." He pointed out that careless sowing, either in life or in ordinary farming is "for the birds" so to speak. He proceeded to say, "God provides all the elements necessary for a garden, but man must wield the hoe." "Faith," he said, "is not a substitute for work, nor is trust merely indifference. A good garden is always the result of the care it receives."
"Some people," he continued, "put up a scarecrow to frighten the birds away." It may work for a time, but even the birds know a dead thing cannot hurt them. There is a lot of scarecrow religion, " he continued. "Some parents erect a scarecrow in their homes by telling their children that if they do certain things they will be punished, But without a living example, and often being able to flout the orders with impunity, they soon find pockets in the scarecrow where they invariable hatch out family trouble. A garden needs care. The weeds must be ruthlessly uprooted, water must be provided in times of drought, and protection from the depredation of the birds must be provided. But the same thing is true in religion. If your soul is to be like a watered garden, you must have more than a scarecrow to produce results. Children are very quick to discern the difference between a scarecrow and a living person. They soon learn to treat the scarecrow with mocking contempt and heedless disregard. If all we do to guide our children is to erect a few religious scarecrows without a living example and personal supervision, we cannot expect a very desirable harvest in their later years."

As the minister portrayed the beautiful picture of a watered garden with its fine fruits and nutritious vegetables, Wotta Chump could not get his mind off his own miserable failure. He heard the minister say, "God can produce a garden, but even He needs more than a scarecrow to look after it. If this is true in the natural garden, how much more it is required in the garden of life. Each child is like a plant. The child needs constant, personal and living tender care in order to grow into a mature attractive and useful character. If you want a godly home with children you can be proud of, then you will need more than a scarecrow to produce the results. Finally, if you want your own soul to be like a watered garden, and if you want your church to provide the atmosphere to equip people to withstand the weeds of temptation and the birds that steal your fruitfulness, we will need more than scarecrow religion," the minister concluded.
As Wotta Chump was slowly going home with his family, silently thinking about all the minister had said, Jim Crow spotted him in his wagon. The old tormenter tilted his head back and derisively laughed, Haw! Haw! Haw! Haw! Wotta Chump stopped his horses and looked narrowly at his vexing foe. Then he relaxed and said loud enough for all to hear, "The joke's on you Mr. Jim Crow. That's the last time anyone is going to make a laughing stock out of me. I'm through with scarecrows----in everything!"



Back To Jerry's Parables And Short Stories