By Catherine Terelak

UNCLAIMED WILDERNESS—In response to the current bottleneck in the real estate market, President Biden has reinstated the Homestead Act of 1862 to encourage westward expansion. In a comment released by the White House, the President said, “The Biden Administration looks forward to a great resurgence of homespun industry and handwoven handicrafts on the American prairie. But, given the aggressive effects of agribusiness on the landscape of the Midwest, land is scarce and small elite liberal arts colleges must do their part. Those tiny triangles of land where they allow certain weeds to grow—called “restored prairies”—have been seized by eminent domain and will be repossessed to any neo-homesteader who happens upon them. The Biden Administration expects that these colleges, especially Grinnell College, will be gracious hosts to their guests.” 

An added wrinkle of this policy is that President Biden has required the College to treat neo-homesteaders as enrolled students—and now, they want access to SGA funding. 

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, homesteader Jebediah Wheat, his bride Patience, and the couple’s seven children circled their wagons in the restored prairie outside of the Harris Center to stake their claim. 

“Praise be! What fortune!” Wheat exclaimed, digging his well. “The children have never been so happy. Young Mary is doing the washing with such zip and vigor, and Ruthie has never mended at such a rate.” 

Labor, Jebediah explained, is the children’s favorite pastime—beside going to church, of course. Jebediah is a preacher known far and wide for his electrifying talks on temperance and right living, and he has already erected a tent for his famous revivals. “Tent revivals get a bad rap back East,” Jebediah says. “There’s only a little bit of talking in tongues. The Spirit mostly moves the body through violent convulsions.” 

Jebediah asked that it be “posted in the town square” that the first Grinnell Tent Revival will take place on the Harris Restored Prairie on Sunday at 10am. “Bring your Bible,” he says, “and don’t eat beforehand. Patience will cook a delectable feast of game and vegetables.” 

Overwhelmingly, the initial Grinnellian response to the Wheat Homestead was one of confusion and concern. “The children keep trying to sell me little dolls made of corn,” said Shaun de Satan ’23. “They asked me if a penny was too expensive, and I told them they should think about joining the union. UGSDW has never represented child laborers before, but now seems like a good time to start. Jebediah keeps talking about sending them to the mines for the winter, or indenturing them to a wealthy widow in town. Jebediah doesn’t allow them to eat on Fridays, and they’re forbidden from wearing shoes until the first snowfall. I’ve called CPS fifteen times on account of these ‘exercises in character-building,’ but CPS has instructions from the federal government to leave the homesteaders alone—something to do with religious freedom.” 

In the virtuous weeds of Macy House Restored Prairie, Jesuit fur trapper Jean Pierre LeBlanc is building a shrine to the Blessed Mother in an effort to spread the one true faith in the American Middle West. 

“They are a wretched, godless breed,” he hissed, when asked his opinion of Grinnell College students. “And now the few faithful among them have been rendered impotent by the heathen bureaucracy of Student Affairs.” 

He was talking, of course, about the recent deactivation of the Catholic Student Association, which has greatly hindered his progress on the Grinnell Shrine of the Blessed Mother. “I only asked for 100,000 Louis d’Or with which to buy statues, relics, and chalices, but I would have settled for buying snacks and sending emails. I couldn’t attend SGA training because I was busy keeping the Liturgy of the Hours, but I don’t see why that should justify indefinite termination. I’ve written my Jesuit superiors as well as the Holy Father on the matter and am still awaiting responses from both camps.” 

On Wednesday morning, Jebediah Wheat was granted SGA recognition for his tent revival series. As one specific administrator said, “He was just so prompt and organized with his paperwork, and his requests were so reasonable: a bigger tent, permanent expansion onto Mac Field, mandatory bonnet-wearing, and a college-wide monopoly on freshly churned butter. Of course. Anything we can do to support spiritual life at the college, we should do.” 

Meanwhile, Fr. LeBlanc is urging the Catholic Student Association toward a new crusade. “For now, we’re taking things underground—that is to say, we’re building catacombs. We’ve lost the support of the Diocese of Davenport, but we’re doing what we must.” Jebediah Wheat has extended many olive branches, all of which have been swiftly rebuffed by the CSA. “We don’t want Patience’s feast of game and vegetables,” Fr. LeBlanc has said. “We want blood.”