Trump is hitting the campaign trail, hitting it hard in the way that Trumpty Dumpty sort of way he has, and one of his repeated platitudes is some variation of “I’m not on the ballot, but I’m on the ballot,” also taking the form of “think of yourself as voting for me.” I haven’t been following this election as carefully as I should. I haven’t been well. I’ve been struggling with digestive/gut issues since last spring, and it’s taken its toll. My energy levels have been pretty low.
This summer I’ve turned more attention to blogging, and I’ve started phazing out Facebook. In the process I’ve been pleasantly surprised to cross paths with several new blogger friends, bloggers who are Christians, and they are Christians with whom I share key commonalities, a form of fellowship, so-to-speak. It’s been interesting to flip my mind back into theological mode, here and there. One perspective that I still share, that I still have in common with Christians is the sense that in some way there was a communion that was broken, that in some sense our original state of being is communion and harmony. So given that we are living in the days of rage, in a period of increasing cultural coflict, this idea of communion has come to take on greater meaning for me.
A few years back, before coming to McCarthy, I worked a two summers in Glacier Bay National Park. The glaciers there, however, were not very accessible. For one thing, they were Tidewater Glaciers, meaning that they terminated in the water, i.e., the Pacific ocean. One summer I worked on a tour boat, so I saw them every bloody day, but actually getting up onto the glaciers was a whole ‘nother story. Watching the glaciers, day after day, made me feel a bit like a Medieval peasant gazing up at the lord’s manor, up on the hill.
I want to pass along a great opinion piece that ran in the Guardian a few days back, written by Kim Heacox, an Alaskan writer who lives in Gustavus, a very small bush community snuggled up next to Glacier Bay National Park. I worked two summers in Glacier Bay, one of the truly special and one of the most wondrous places I’ve been, and I met Kim during my stint there. It’s a good piece and a plea for some sanity: Over the years, I’ve walked many visitors into the Tongass national forest in Alaska, and watched the city tinsel drop from their eyes. They often sit quietly and look around, and for the first time in a long time breathe from the bottom of their lungs.I live here, I tell them.
My inhibitions, fighting my intuition Premature premonition Showin me the demolition of these phony niggas So ahead of my time Even when I rhyme about the future I be reminiscing ~ J. Cole, Fire Squad We’re starting to see proper sunsets here in McCarthy, which gives me the distinct impression that summer is on the wane, this despite the fact that it was so hot the other day that even on a short, fairly easy hike, I came down with a mild touch of heat exhaustion. It’s starting to get dark late at night. If I have to get up and take a piss, I can still see my way around and navigate, but it’s dark enough that I have to pay attention lest I turn my ankle on a rock. It won’t be long before I’ll have to dust off the ole headlamp for late night trips to the toilet (i.e., the first bush I can find).
Part of our political perils has to do with the fact that Americans don’t really see themselves as part of a community. The United States of America really does not have much by way of a common identity or shared values, and it’s always been that way. We are a collection of very diverse states and cultures who have very different ways of seeing the world. I certainly don’t feel a part of one American community, and I never have. I’ve been on the right and on the left, politically, and I’ve kicked around in some pretty diverse circles, and it has never occurred to me to think of all of us as part of one happy family, because we aren’t. I’m guessing it’s probably that way with most of us.
On the surface, the novel Beloved seems like literature that makes us more aware of the brutality of slavery — the physical and emotional abuses, the violence, and the dehumanization. It is, all of these, of course, but I think that what sets Toni Morrison’s novel apart, and what has earned her the well-deserved international acclaim she has achieved, is that she goes deeper, to really get under our skin, as it were. For me, reading Beloved made me acutely aware of the color of my skin. This is perhaps as good as it gets, when it comes to fiction writing, because Beloved forces the reader to confront themselves in relation to skin color and in relation to the brutality of racism, both past and present. Morrison does all this simpy by being a great writer, by putting the reader there, right there in the middle of it all.