agnostic/atheists, atheism, Christianity, Life, Madison WI, Pibel Nebraska State Park, Pible Bilbe Camp, Religion

Mr BoJangles, I’ll Dance the Truth With You


He danced for those at minstrel shows
and county fairs throughtout the South
He spoke with tears of 15 years
of how his dog and him travelled about
The dog up and died, he up and died.
After 20 years he still grieves

Bob Dylan

Well Mr BoJangles, you left this provocative comment for me after you read “Praise God and Pass the Ammunition:”


“It’s ever so much easier to kill people who are not members of your tribe. People you have dismissed as less worthy of your empathy and respect. People you have already deemed damned to eternal perdition because they have not made the right choices in deities. People your God would call an enemy Unfortunately I believe that most if not all of American Christian churches teach this if not outright from the pulpit on Sunday morning then certainly by implication. Try reading the Old Testament of the Bible all the way through.”


Most wars in human history have been in started in the name of political ideas or religious beliefs. This is a passionate way to get the troops rallied when they will see little benifit. If you think it is in regards to oil or something people want, look closer. Believers in Christ hate the sin but love the sinner.


True believers would rather share the life changing power of forgiveness rather than kill someone. I have been to that little camp in Nebraska you are talking about and I have seen a lot of peace makers, not war promoters come out. If your judgement is clouded and you are having a hard time seeing your God.


Look to your neighbor first, before you make cynical judgements of the international wars around you. I do believe there is a God in heaven and I do believe his wrath is shown from time to time. But, more often, I see his mercy and grace upon a rebellious world. He gives us a lot more chances than we deserve.


I doubt you have ever been to a week of Pible Bible Youth Camp. Pible Bible Camp baptizes in the Lake of the Pibel Nebraska state park that is adjacent to the property, not the Little Blue River. It has been that way since Guy B. Dunning opened the camp decades ago. Your facts are less than credible on this subject, so it makes me question others. You may have had a bad experience that turned you bitter.


We may not think a like in thought, but that is OK. I welcome your firendship and a friendly, non-violent discussion.


I think that proves that not all of us are wanting to get rid of people that are not like us.



I decided this comment was so provocative and chock full of points to “discuss” in depth that I would give it its very own Blog! So here you are.  Let the discussing commence!

There’s an interesting thing about that word doubt Mr BoJangles. Used in this context, essentially you’ve just called me a liar. Ah, ah, ah…I can hear you protesting. Yes you did, you surely did. You could have found a far less provocative way to question my assertion that I was baptized in a river while attending Pibel Bible Camp than to question my “credentials.”

Here are some facts that you should check so that you feel more comfortable about my credibility. In 1966 or 1967 the dam at the lake at Pible State Park had either sprung a leak or the lake was deliberately drained because the dam was undergoing routine repairs. Maybe they were just digging all the sludge out.

I’m sort of fuzzy on exactly which year it was anymore because it really has no meaning for me except as an amusing incident from my childhood so I will admit that my pertinent facts are a bit fuzzy but I think it was probably 1967.  It’s sort of like remembering which year you got The Candyland game for Christmas.


Whichever the case, the lake had been reduced to little more than a giant mudhole and was not suitable for baptisms that year. Or anything else. I see from a visit to the State Park website that the lake has been “recently renovated” again.


That’s how I came to be baptized in the river nearby and you know, looking at the map of the surrounding area I’m not sure it WAS The Little Blue. It might have been The North Loop since it’s close to Loop City and Ord. Again, I’m fuzzy on my facts.  I haven’t been in Nebraska for 15 years much less to that area.

It’s been 40 plus years since I was baptized and frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass which river it was. There aren’t a lot of rivers in Nebraska but there is a Little Blue River in Nebraska. I was baptized in a river near Pibel Bible Camp in Nebraska in 1966 or 1967. Close enough.

Oh yeah, we had to travel quite a ways to get to that river so everyone who felt moved to answer the call to come to Jesus that week had to wait until Thursday evening to be baptized. Then we all traveled down to the river and it took a long time to baptize everyone with two ministers doing the baptisms and the last few to be baptized (including me) were baptized by candlelight and flashlight shortly after dusk. It was a very emotional experience.


Pretty sure I was 15 but I used to say I was whatever age I was going to be during the summer before I turned that age so I might have only been 14. Oh gee, I stretched the truth back then, too. LIAR, liar pants on fire. Sue me.


If you know any of the people from that time and place you may remember the man who baptized me. His name was Burklund. He came to be the minister at my home church in Clay Center, Nebraska that fall. He had a  daughter, Christie, who was just a toddler at the time.  She got leukemia but survived and grew up in Clay Center.

They also had a son my age and two other children who were younger but I can’t remember their names at the moment. You may also remember Kerry Hookstra who was a very popular youth minister in his late teens and early 20s.  He might have been from Omaha or Grand Island.  There were girls there that were from both places and he was with one of those sets of girls.  There were also some boys from the same church.  I remember Kerry’s name because I thought it was a cool name and there was a boy in Clay Center who had the same unusual name and I thought that was wild


I was very excited and proud to be chosen to be romanced that year by the most popular and best looking boy at camp–Jon Zlomke. Thinking I really didn’t have a chance amongst all the beauties who were vying for his attention, I pretty much ignored him. Besides, I wasn’t one to be chasing boys around. I was much to shy for overt flirting. He later told me that’s what he like most about me–I wasn’t boy crazy. When I got home my father made me quit writing to him. He wouldn’t let me date yet, not even by letter.


My name is Barbara Gavin if you want to check to see if I was ever on the roster at that camp or go looking for the baptismal records. I’m sure there must be a record somewhere that I am still a member of that church in Clay Center since I never moved my membership out. Unless they have ousted me for back taxes (tithing) or something and that particular sect doesn’t keep track that I’m aware of, at least not in writing.


So now we have my “credentials” ironed out and perhaps established to your liking, we can take up your statement that you “welcome a friendly non-violent discussion.” Of course you do. That’s why you called me a liar.


As for the rest of your comment, most so-called believers in Christ only give lip service to their beliefs until and unless they have need of said beliefs to justify what they are doing that makes their consciences twinge. That’s why there is such a revival of religious fervor during times of war, in my opinion. People turn to a power greater than themselves to justify their personal sins against humanity.


Well that and to hedge their bets just in case the other side can aim better than their side. Their are an awful lot of “convenience store Christians” in the pews when we go through troubled times. Not so many when all is well on the international political front and the Dow is gaining.


I feel entitled to say these things because at one time I was an insider. I watched it happen and I participated in the ebb and flow of my own Christian fervor. You question whether my experiences made me bitter and I have to truthfully admit that yes, I have had many experiences that could have made me bitter. I thank my ability to reason and my native intelligence that I was able to see through the bunk that is Christianity and dump it by the wayside before I got to bitter!


Had I not seen that my life is truly my own affair and the choice to live it with dignity and grace is my own to make, rather than groveling on my knees at the altar of a false god, clamoring for attention and begging for relief, I might have lost my mind. Ironically it is this prayer that taught me that naked truth and opened my eyes to the indisputable truth that the christian god I had been taught to believe in was sheer and utter nonsense:

Grant me the serenity;
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference,
living each day, one day at a time.



Based on The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.








8 thoughts on “Mr BoJangles, I’ll Dance the Truth With You

  1. Beth says:

    What a powerful blog. I’m so glad I found it. I grew up in Clay Center in the 70’s. Your minister’s name was actually Donald Burkum, and his daughter Kristine was in my class and was an off and on friend of mine. I moved away in 1979, and was glad to hear she survived the leukemia.

  2. bairbresine says:

    Thank you for the compliment, Beth. And thank you for correcting me on Burkum’s name. Isn’t it funny the details you almost remember and those you forget? How interesting that you would find this blog… Small world, eh.


  3. Kerry Hookstra says:

    I am the Kerry Hookstra described in the post by Barbara Gavin and the summer of 1967 would be the time that I was a youth minister working at Pibel Bible Camp. I also knew her brother, Tom. I was there with the church from Bridgeport, NE and the senior minister was Dwaine Dunning, older son of Guy B. who founded the camp.
    I am still in ministry but as a senior minister with the First Christian Church of Downs, KS. My first preaching ministry was in Sutton, NE where Guy B. Dunning had preached at one time. It is also close to Clay Center, NE.
    Don Burkum was a friend of mine as were his sons. I was baptized during a revival meeting he preached at my home church in Ansley, NE on March 25, 1961. My wife is a Pibel alum from Burwell, NE. We first met when I was a junior counselor at Pibel in 1963 and she was 12 years old.
    The impact of that camp was great in my life. It gave me the direction that eventually led to my call to preach. I have been up and down in my faith but never found anything that could match the message that Jesus Christ proclaimed.
    In order to have a unique e-mail address I have appropriated “Pibel” for that purpose.

  4. Kerry Hookstra says:

    One additional note, the place of baptism while the dam at Pibel Lake State Recreation Area was being repaired would have been the Cedar River which flows a few miles west of the lake and campgrounds. The Loup Rivers, South, Middle and North are some distance from Pibel. I was born in Loup City, NE which is on the Middle Loup.

  5. bairbresine says:

    Wow! Kerry Hookstra. Talk about a small world… I haven’t been keeping this blog up for some time now due to a variety of reasons but I’m glad I checked the comments today.

    Tom was my uncle. Maybe you are thinking of Kathy Jo who was 9 months younger than I am. She was blonde and I had dark auburn hair. My father was their oldest brother.

    Did you know that Tom became a chaplain in the Army?

    You were from Bridgeport? Another small world coincidence. My best friend in HS lived in Bridgeport for a few years. I went to visit her there in ’79 or ’80. My brother married a girl from Gering.

    I remember you as being one of the nicest young men I had ever met. You were a lot of fun. You also pointed out to me that I was sitting in a patch of poison ivy one day. And the camp nurse got all worried about it. As it turns out, I am not sensitive to poison ivy and have never had a case of it even though people I have been hiking with got nasty cases.

    Thanks for chiming in. It must have been weird to see your name in a blog.



  6. bairbresine says:

    And thanks for letting me know the name of the river. My Great-grandmother Sinner (seriously, that was her last name) lived in Loup City when I was a little bitty girl.


  7. It may have been wonderful memories from Pible. Today we have a far different story. Preachers who call themselves “Reverend” They live in a state of unforgiveness. The live in a state of adultery. Yet they call themselves Christians. Tell me, how can this possibly be?

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