The 1950s and 1960s are often cited as the golden age of television. Those were the days when comedians such as Groucho Marx and writers such as Rod Serling worked in the business. That era produced many programs that still bear rewatching (The Dick Van Dyke Show, for one, and I say this not just because I had a boyhood crush on Mary Tyler Moore).
(after an image by photojournalist Gerald Herbert)
That little tragedian, the dragonfly, wings smeared with earth’s black blood, stands glued to its stem like an orator. It will never leave this soapbox now. Just hangs there spread-eagled, a wee-Jesus on a crucifix of grass. Some undertaker draped its rainbow in a shroud of pitch, shined its tar-ball shoes, closed those onyx eyes for good. It has become an effigy of itself. It wanted to tell us that it died for our sins. But its lips are sealed. This orator without a speech, ne of the meek, so busy inheriting the earth, it never noticed the evil tide bubbling up from earth’s slit jugular, it never saw that drop of gleaming crude on Judas’s lip.
A writer in the Century some years ago recalled in passing the
era when mail was delivered twice a day. He noted, somewhat
whimsically, how that practice ensured at least two hopeful moments in
Over the past year I have been speaking with different groups about biblical narrative in the age of Twitter. As more and more people find Facebook updates, text messages and 140-character tweets adequate for their communication needs, who will retain the skills to read the lengthy, complex, ancient stories that have given rise to three major world religions?
One morning this summer I was basking in the sun With the brother closest to me in age. We had been Brought up almost as twins but then took disparate Roads, as twins do. He was sobbing and I was near Tears and the ocean was muttering. I heard a heron. We had been having the most naked open talk we’d Had in many years. I wanted to tell him how deeply I loved him but words are just so weak and shallow. So I talked about the forsythia bush we used to hide Under together. It was the safest place on the planet. The light was always amazing in there and it wasn’t Ever muddy somehow and you were draped in gold. It was a hut a huddle a tent a canopy a cave a refuge. Sometimes you have to use a thing to say something Else. We do this all the time. We talk sideways, yes? But sidelong is often the only road that gets to where You know you need to go. So much means lots more Than it seems like it could mean. Tears, for example.
John Coleman, who died recently, presided over Haverford College during the tumultuous Vietnam War era. He sympathized with students’ antiwar protests but also tried to channel the antiwar movement in constructive ways. When students considered burning the American flag, Coleman placed a washing machine at the center of the campus and encouraged students to wash the flag instead. He persuaded dozens of college presidents to sign an antiwar statement. On sabbaticals he took blue-collar jobs to explore the gap between academics and workers (Inside Higher Ed, September 12).