In this age of Cornonavirus overload, I will resist the urge to pile on to the millions of discussions about preparation for the pandemic. This Friday, in the absence of a planned set of favorite things, I’m going to list a few thoughts I have entertained over the past week. Feel free to add your own in the comments:
- A virtual friend of mine pointed this out, but it’s funny, and I think she’s right. Y’all know there are far worse things than toilet paper to run out of, right? The toilet paper aisles are empty, but numerous varieties of bread are on the shelves of my local grocery store. What good is it really going to do anyone, if it comes to that, to starve surrounded by bulk packages of toilet paper?
- I picked up Albert Camus’ novel, The Plague, from my local library. I have been reading it in the evenings for the past couple of days (after reading from my Lenten reading list in the mornings). The Plague is a really good book. I was struck by how similar the post-modern USA is to the description of the Algerian city Camus uses as the setting for his novel published in 1947. It reminded me that while modernity is fluid and unstable, its underlying characteristics are recognizable across generations.
- Whatever my negative thoughts about American politics in general and the Democrat party, in particular, I have marveled yet again at how they exercise the discipline they do in their ranks. In one night, they managed to completely change and control the trajectory of their primary race. Because I don’t generate enough traffic to warrant fear of being politically incorrect, I’m going to say what isn’t being said: trading out the old socialist for an equally old establishment guy who is showing signs of dementia means their choice of a VP candidate is probably more important than any VP pick in recent memory.
- On a happier, lighter note, we recently went on a tour of the historic city of St. Augustine with some fellow homeschooling travelers. St. Augustine is a touristy town, being the oldest European settlement in the United States. However, it’s touristy without being overly crowded, which is nice. Touring the historic buildings commissioned and financed by the ridiculously, obscenely rich Henry Flagler induce contrasting feelings of awe at the beauty and craftsmanship combined with “oh my gosh who needs this much money?”
- The Gilded Age, which is what Mark Twain billed the period in which Flagler and other wealthy industrialists reshaped America, is an apt name for the period. It reminds us that the blatant materialism that we lament today is nothing new. I am also reminded that most of us are probably more materialistic than we think or are willing to recognize.
- We noted that whatever one might think of the gilded age, at the very least, they built things with a level of craftsmanship and beauty that are still worth admiring 150 years later. Can any of us imagine anyone building anything today that people will care to tour and admire 150 years from now? I know I can’t.
Happy Friday! Stay healthy and safe!