Kingdom of Idols II
Milepost: 1519.8 Butte, MT
In 2009, I first wrote an entry titled "Kingdom of Idols" and wondered at the passing of eras. Of the era of 2009, I wrote:
... We rest in .. [an era].. of entitlement and gratification, one that quickly moves beyond past accomplishments for which we have no personal use. Our current idols have plotted an interesting course that is just now coming into clearer focus. The destination does not always seem appetizing, but the howl of radials along the Clark Fork remind us of its coming.
And so we continued in that era until something changed. Indeed, since I last wrote on these pages, the entire world has changed. All around us institutions that marked western civilization and the world at large remain shaking. Dear reader, consider that in a matter of days education systems, government systems, healthcare systems, economic systems, transportation systems, and many personal freedoms that we lay claim to in the West lay closed all about us. In the US we hear threats of meat supply problems while around the world there is news of increasing hunger. Are we seeing the hints of a new era between eras? An era when perhaps even the light is darkness?
The photos here mark the Milwaukee Road's entry to Butte, and the second depot that was constructed in the 1950s to avoid the stub-end arrangement of the original. This was a different era, when two transcons called at Butte and the high tension AC lines shown in the picture above helped Little Joes and Boxcabs across the Rockies that now lie looming to the East. Ahead, a westbound run along the Clark Fork River beckons, as do the Bitterroots that will be the barrier to Palouse Country in Washington State.
Perhaps our missing transcon really was 'one too many' as some have suggested. Or perhaps our current era between eras suggests something different? As the economic problems of the 1970s came to a close and America lost its Resouceful Railroad, it was a sign of things to come. Decisions driven by short range planning and immediate profit stole it from the country that could have used it.
Our arrival in Butte has witnessed miles and miles of abandoned towns, depots, and an America that has been lost. It has been driven away by the drivers of efficiency, immediate profit, and streamlining. Towns have seen jobs depart for decades, and their struggles are well documented. They've been replaced with massive, efficient systems with no real redundancy and no fail-safe. Our prior era and our old idols now seem to have failed us and I wonder, dear reader, if perhaps some "inefficiency" and a little redundancy isn't such a bad thing?
So as the systems we built tremble and shake, I will be hopeful that from this era between eras good will yet arise. For this I will bring to mind and therefore have hope - as Jeremiah (Lamentations 3) said - because of the Lord's great love we are not totally consumed for his compassions never fail. ... I will say to myself the Lord is my portion therefore I will wait for him, he is good to those whose hope is in him and to the one who seeks him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.