Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I'd always assumed that the original Edward R. Murrow "This I Believe" was some sort of Christianity-lite radio show, way back in the 1950s. (It's said that the title was inverted in that way in reference to Murrow's Quaker mother.) Then I started listening to the podcasts of the new "This I Believe," which featured some of the old ones (William O. Douglas talking about the evils of greed and American imperialism being un-Christian is pretty great) and many new. One of my neighbors left out books last week, and I snagged a copy of the 2007 paperback, which also mixes up "essays" old and new.
The new essay I particularly enjoyed was Harold Taw's about feeding monkeys. At his birth in Burma, a monk instructed his parents to have him feed monkeys on his birthday. That way, they would always prosper. Easy enough, while they were in or near the Burmese jungle. But after the family immigrated to the US, monkeys are not always so easy to come by. The tone is weighty, but at the same time you know that Taw can see the humor in it, too.
There are old two essays that I liked. One is by Thomas Mann, about the transitory nature of life (it's not clear to me whether this was just before or just after he immigrated to Switzerland). He certainly knew about that. The other is by Martha Graham (she was such a good writer) about how being a dancer is being "an athlete of God," and how much work, discipline and time that requires.