Say a group of immigrants want to build a mosque in Mayberry, right next to All Saints Church. WWAD: What Would Andy Do?
The question, of course, never surfaced in the beloved Andy Griffith Show that chronicled life in the bucolic town of Mayberry, untouched by the battles of civil rights and war that festered in the 1960s.
If Barbara Kingsolver's masterpiece The Poisonwood Bible has formed your image of Christian missionaries in the 20th century, you need an equal and opposite set of characters to round out (not replace) your historical, theological and literary imagination.
Wouldn't it be great if one of the world's best travel writers, after
60 years and fortysome books, went back through her work and notes and
plucked out hundreds of haunting, revelatory, shimmering moments— brief
encounters that "have been sparks of my work," she might say, "if often
only in glimpses—a sighting through a window, a gentle snatch of sound,
the touch of a hand . . . fleeting contacts [that] have fuelled my
travels down the years, generated my motors, excited my laughter and
summoned my sympathies."
Here in the basement of the Espresso Royale on Sixth Street in this land grant university town, amid English Fog lattes and keypad-clatter, in the afternoon before the all-hallows-eve in which Katie, a great-great-et-cetera granddaughter of the townswoman they hanged for the crime of witchcraft, will play a game—homo ludens— of volleyball against the maize-and-blue Michigan Wolverines I draft a missive to the good citizenry of Dorchester as though they might yet happen upon these words, as though their revivified selves were a short gallop from this latitude and longitude, as though their sins of omission and commission might still be forgiven— not just forgotten—by an act of penance that includes a pilgrimage to tonight’s venue and a maniacal cheering for this descendent as she executes (I didn’t invent the language) a perfect play that culminates in (really, I didn’t) a kill. Full stop because I don’t know how to end this letter. So I do what I always do: continue breaking lines and staggering down the page until it’s time to witness more volleyball and cheer like nothing else ever happens or matters.
Researchers at Yale University School of Public Health have discovered a link between longevity and reading books. People who spend up to 3.5 hours each week engrossed in a book were 17 percent less likely to die in the 12 years following the study, and those who read more than 3.5 hours are 23 percent less likely to die in the same period. The longevity advantage remained even after adjusting the data for education, wealth, cognitive ability, and other variables, although no cause-and-effect relationship was established (Tech Times, August 8).