Back in 1994 TV viewers all over the world watched transfixed, as South Africa’s first democratically elected president took the oath of office. While a dignified Nelson Mandela addressed the heads of state, many viewers wondered about the man dressed in leopard skins, standing directly behind him with a little flag stuck quaintly in his headgear.
What is the most popular Christmas song? One way to determine that is to consult the Muzak Holiday Channel and find the song that has the most versions available. If that’s a fair way to deal with this question, then the answer would be “The Christmas Song,” most often sung by either Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby.
In his book Abel’s Island William Steig tells the story of a mouse (Abel) who is marooned on an island for an entire year. In the first part of the book, Abel is all alone on the island. Unlike the participants in the Survivor TV series, he has no one around to help him survive—or to vote him off the island and thereby return him to his home.
I cherish the vision of what could have been a great moment in American poetry. One day my American literature professor told our class about Emily Dickinson, the quiet and reclusive woman who was satisfied to live in a circumscribed world in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Whenever the text turns apocalyptic, as it does this week, there would seem to be only two choices: either take it literally and join the lucrative doomsday machine of late-night, splendidly coifed Christian psychics, or begin your best apologetic backpedaling—cheered on by Bishop John Spong.