Every July for the past seven years, my quiet corner of North Georgia has become the site of a Native American Sundance ceremony. While the rest of the nation stocks up on beer and firecrackers for the Fourth, the Sundancers arrive in cars with license plates from Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Maine.
On a summer evening in our town, Carnival came to Main Street. Biker convoys parked their gleaming Harleys outside the Internet café and flocks of teens from the suburbs rivaled the Harleys with their personal adornments of metal trimmings, tattooed limbs and orange and purple–streaked hair. To us locals all this hubbub was normal; we see it every year at Carnival time.
Toward the end of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a powerful novel about slavery and its aftermath, one of the characters reflects on the impact one woman had on his life: “She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”
We often engage in disputes about how events from the past should be remembered. Whether we’ve had an argument with a child, a quarrel with a spouse or a debate about national history, the truth about the past seems to matter a great deal. And yet there are powerful voices in our culture that tell us that we should let go of this interest.
Every year around this time, the fescue pastures surrounding my home become suddenly colorful, as the purple heads of nodding thistles (Carduus nutans) break through the waves of green. As lovely as they are—and as much as the goldfinches love them—this is not good news, since it means that next fall’s hay will be full of thorns.
S. Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, died last month. He believed that Christian principles didn’t conflict with good business practices. He has kept the restaurants closed on Sundays and encouraged stores to become involved in their communities. The business, worth $5.5 billion, has given $68 million to 700 educational and charitable organizations. The company came under fire in 2012 when Dan Cathy, president, made antigay marriage statements and was accused of supporting groups fighting same-sex marriage. Chick-fil-A subsequently stopped funding such groups (Christian Science Monitor, September 8).