The low-budget English production Is Anybody There? is now reaching screens in the United States, thanks to the presence of Michael Caine in the lead role. The action takes place at Lark Hall, a family-run nursing facility. As one aging resident dies, another arrives to take over the bed—a cycle of life and death accepted mostly with a nod and a shrug.
It had been almost three months since I made a pastoral call on Jack Matthews, who is one of our elderly parishioners now living at Pittsburgh’s West minster Residences. He mentioned this to an elder, who might have said something to a few other church members.
In my earlier years, my mother would often say to me, “Someday when I am old and gray . . .” I later used the phrase with my children in what they rightly described as guilt peddling. No doubt at times my mother evoked the phrase for that purpose. Recently, however, I realized that “old and gray” had a much deeper resonance for her.
Readers often ask, “Whence issue these columns?” Here’s the current answer. Last winter we traded our suburban home of 43 years for high-rise housing in downtown Chicago. We can see three states looking south from our condo, and from my study, looking north, I see the lakeshore and the glow of Wisconsin cities.
If the staff at the Christian Century is any indication, most younger Americans don’t expect much from Social Security. When the subject came up at lunch, all of the 20- and 30-somethings said they assume that they will have to pay into the system, but that the benefits won’t be there for them when they retire.
I have spent a lot of time searching through the Bible for loopholes,” said W. C. Fields, who was looking for moral wriggle room. While surfing the Web for a recent column on baldness I found many commentators citing 2 Kings 2:23: “As Elisha was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
Montana is to be envied for its great Great Plains, its purple mountain majesties, and its celebration of color. The state motto is colorfully Oro y Plata, gold and silver. Its flower is the bitterroot, a delicious pink and white bloom. And, on fishing- and driver’s-license applications, Montana cites “bald” as a color preference.
In 1974 the University of Chicago Press informed me that it had received a manuscript on the rise of the Celtic church. I was editing Church History at the time and had a log of the church historians, so the press asked me to recommend referees who might do a critical reading of the manuscript and advise whether or not to accept it.