Monday, August 27, 2007

From across the pond

Day passes day, and the leaves of certain trees exhale into yellow, having bottled up the sun so long that they begin to resemble him.

Meg, a long, lost housemate of mine, from the days of Burleith and the melanistically-divergent (to reach for a PC term) black squirrels, is in Arlington awaiting funding for her PhD program at Cambridge. She is doing something eminently brilliant regarding psycholinguistics and phonology, but there is some sort of hang-up with the European Union, and she has returned to the States until the fog lifts.

She came to dinner at the apartment on Saturday, and we ought to have gone swing-dancing, but Bethany roped Brian into helping someone move a free piano off of Craig's List from Mt. Pleasant to Anacostia in a hair-lifting thunderstorm with a U-Haul truck that wouldn't start. Needless to say, dancing was out, so we ate chicken kabob from down the street and played Settlers of Catan until the blackest hours of the morning. If anyone ever discovers a perfectly octagonal lost island continent composed of miraculously equal parts brick, ore, pastureland, forests and wheatfields, I will be prepared. It's a tremendous load off my mind.

Telling me all about Cambridge, Meg has half convinced me to move to that sinking star of an imperial age, a place where nearly everyone drinks copious amounts of tea and goes on holiday instead of on vacation.

If it did not suggest an egregious oversight on the part of my Maker, I would swear that I had been born on the wrong continent, and most definitely in the wrong decade. Judging almost entirely, I will admit, from literary fixation (Oh, Inklings, how I would have loved to have met you!), I ought to have been born in England right around 1920.

Still, I expressed to Meg that it would be foolhardy to try to compensate and do a major life move on the basis of pure literary fascination.

"That's what I did," she answered to my surprise, "And it's worked out great for me."

I am not really about to jump the Pond, but if there is a young gentleman reader out there from the UK, preferably over six feet and with a cozy cottage outside Oxford (thatching optional), you're more than halfway home so far as I'm concerned.

In the absence of ready excuses (not to mention ready monies) to pack it off for Heathrow, I've been downloading free audiobooks in the public domain of Chesteron's detective stories. I play them while I drift in the borderland between sleeping and waking. Marvelous. I was listening to one the other day, and was startled to hear the main character (generally a likable bloke) launch into an anti-Semitic rant. I winced and listened with growing horror, feeling as though a cockroach had just settled down next to me on the couch.

I did a bit of research on Chesteron and found, to my chagrin, that he did indeed partake of the prejudices incumbent on his religion (Catholic), his race (white as the snow on London), and his era (pre-Nazi and pre-political correctness). Chesterton's anti-Semitism has contributed to his being less touted by critics than his genius might otherwise merit. And I, with the partial Jewish blood running suddenly white-hot in my veins, have to decide whether I will similarly drop him like a burning cinder. It is indeed tragic that one who loved the Man of Men should not have come close enough to see how terribly Jewish he looks, and I do not doubt that once in the throne room, Mr. Chesterton wished many grievous things unwritten and unsaid; but, I have never enjoyed the words of any author but that his sins, public or private, were terrible things, and if Mr. Chesteron had been a gluttonous adulterer who neglected the poor, few of these critics would have had anything to say about it. So I will go on listening to the adventures of Father Brown, cringing against the reappearance of that snake in the garden, and remember that it is a terrible thing for even great thinkers not to think their thoughts to the end.

3 comments:

David said...

"...it is a terrible thing for even great thinkers not to think their thoughts to the end."

What a great statement, and while I am certainly not a "great thinker" I am challenged nonetheless.

- David
Dallas, TX

A Rose said...

Thanks for commenting, David in Dallas. Just curious, how'd you find the blog?

David said...

A Rose,
A good college friend works for IJM in India (Blair). The Lord has been stirring and focusing my heart on the oppressed & as I was doing some research on IJM via the wonderful mechanism of Google - and low & behold I came across "winterispast".

I've read through many of your posts (on both sites) - the Lord has clearly gifted you in this area. Your ability to shape words in a way that is authentic & raw is extremely refreshing...and extremely thought provoking. My admonishment to you is that continue writing in a way that points others of the manifold story of God's grace.

I'll be keeping up with your writings.

- David
www.theleventhals.com