Religion and Philosophy
I stopped going to church the night Diane Pearson announced God filled her cavities. That same night, in the spring of 1973, the police arrested my sister, Sheila. They said she put a pipe bomb under the bleachers where the cheerleaders sat during basketball games. It struck me as odd that God would plug the holes in Diane Pearson’s teeth and let the cops take Sheila, who, through no fault of her own, didn’t quite have a grip on things.
The eye man came to town with a group of doctors and nurses who carried suitcases filled with medicine and Bibles. They were accompanied by a troupe of boys and girls who dressed up like daisies and frogs and sang religious songs in English. The eye man wasn’t a doctor himself. And neither the doctors and nurses nor the boys and girls who dressed up like daisies and frogs knew, or would tell me, what he was. He was simply “the eye man.” He made eyes.
I meet with Mikhail Bazankov, a Russian novelist, who tells me the dissolution of the Soviet Union has been a mixed blessing for writers. With the Russian economy in shambles, he explains, it’s difficult to get books published and distributed.
The country is barren, sand-hills and pines stretching from north to south for 400 miles in either direction from Norfolk to the Florida line. William Tecumseh Sherman stopped in February of 1865, fresh from the March to the Sea and the burning of Columbia. Finding nothing to destroy, he paused and then went elsewhere, looking for something worthy of his attention. The natives stayed on, rooted on the land, mournful, gradually becoming Americans with cars, trips to the K-Mart, factory jobs and televisions.