The Soul of Place–Carson McCullers

“In the quiet, secret night she was by herself again.  It was not late–yellow squares of light showed in the windows of the houses along the streets.  She walked slow, with her hands in her pockets and her head to one side.  For a long time she walked without noticing the direction.

“Then the houses were far apart from each other and there were yards with big trees in them and black shrubbery. She looked around and saw she was near this house where she had gone so many times in the summer.  Her feet had just taken her here without knowing…

“The radio was on as usual.  For a second she stood by the window and watched the people inside. The bald-headed man and the gray-haired lady were playing cards at a table. Mick sat on the ground. This was a very fine and secret place. Close around were thick cedars so that she was completely hidden by herself.”

Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

What’s your fine and secret place?  Come write about it at the Porches.  Just a few spaces left.

Soul of Place - Flyer

Little Houses and Big Truths on the Prairie: Caroline Fraser’s Laura Ingalls Wilder

It takes a lot of work to uncover what really happened to the vast prairies of the North American Midwest.  You have to dig under Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous 1890 declaration that the frontier had made America what it was and now it was gone.  Pioneer famers, Turner said, had busted sod, felled forests, and turned “‘free land’ into golden grain,” furnishing “the forces dominating American character.” (173)

You have to dig beneath the Homestead Act’s grand vision.  Beneath the sepia romance of Dorothy’s Kansas.  Beneath Willa Cather’s Nebraska and Hamlin Garland’s Wisconsin.  And beneath the reveries of the most beloved of the “troubadours of the prairie”—Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Caroline Fraser has done this excavation in her engaging and thorough historical biography, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  She begins, not with Wilder’s version of the Dakotas with Laura and Mary picking wildflowers where “the untouched grasslands were sweet and clean, as if the land itself, before the plow, breathed the essence of purity.” (354)  

Instead she begins with death—an 1862 massacre in Minnesota shortly before Wilder’s birth in which Dakota Indians fought back against white incursion.  The retaliation of the settlers was bloody and vicious, but it set the stage for the further westward expansion.  The Homestead Act gave permission, Fraser notes, but 

“ultimately, it was not policy or legislation that opened the far west…It was wrath and righteous retribution that did it, forever changing the contour and condition of the land, pushing settlers farther west than they had ever gone before, flooding the prairies with farms, towns, fields, grain elevators, and train stations.” (24)

The familiar characters of Wilder’s Little House books are here in the first section of Fraser’s book—Ma and Pa and Nellie and the gang.  But the story is more morally ambiguous than we remember.  Laura’s father seems less stable and more willing to lay claim to recognized Indian land. The poverty they face is chronic, the living conditions are brutal, and the farming fantasies are easily brought to ruin by locusts and price shocks.  It’s a gripping story with far more nuance than the broad celebrations of the pioneers that would come later.


Laura Ingalls Wilder

By the time the real Laura Wilder and her husband, Almanzo, arrive in Mansfield, Missouri, where they lived the rest of their lives, it’s not clear how Laura’s childhood would find its way into American lore.  At their farm on Rocky Ridge, the couple continued to be enmeshed in the farming life, experiencing the Populist Party heyday of the 1890s, the New Deal reforms, and the Dust Bowl.  Laura began writing occasional newspaper columns and went to work for the local branch of the National Farm Loan Association.

It was their daughter, Rose, who was the catalyst for the writing life to come.  Rose comes across as a high-flying idealist shaped by the yellow journalism in the air in San Francisco where she first goes to write.  Her writing has verve and energy and plays loosely with the truth.  All of that comes into play as she partners with her mother to produce the wildly successful Little House series that finally lifts Wilder out of poverty.

What Rose also brought to the table was an ideological bent that was fiercely individualist and libertarian.  An associate and admirer of Ayn Rand, Rose Wilder Lane published her own manifesto of unbridled capitalism, 1943’s Discovery of Freedom.  Fraser lays out how Lane’s political narrative, which her mother shared to a more moderate degree, helped shape the narrative of the Little House books, embracing the image of the heroic pioneer farmers taming a vast land.  Wilder provided the raw material and the familial warmth that made the series endearing.

Fraser is a little too invested in the family drama between the mother and daughter, which seems more clearly delineated for her than it does to me.  Lane is continually described as being on the verge of a mental health crisis but somehow manages to go on and even succeed. Fraser notes that the two were at odds on money and writing process, but again they managed both without a complete falling out.

If you resist the temptation to get pulled into the drama, there is a more powerful picture here about the way that the Little House books and our other stories shape the way we see even the land in front of us.  Is it a land, vast, open, and bountiful, that rewards hardworking risk-takers?  Or does our reckless exploitation of it run inevitably into the land’s limitations?  Are the native inhabitants of the land consequential actors or exotic curiosities or, as Wilder sometimes has it, tragic, failed defenders of a prairie purity? Is the heartland the source of American character or a breeding ground for grievance and a hollowed out casualty of global economic trends?

These are not easy questions but we can at least have better stories to help us see what and where we are.  Wilder and Lane gave us some of those, even if their stories were limited by their times and political interests. As we have pursued it on Heartlands, there are more stories to be told and more lands to discover even when we feel we’ve already been there.

Hat tip to Deborah Lewis for getting me to this book.

Revisiting a Letter to My Haitian Neighbor (plus Ry Cooder!)

Maybe I was a little premature.  When I saw my Haitian neighbor leaving town awhile back, I wrote a letter assuming that his departure meant we were going to see a more general exodus from town.  I wrote the letter in frustration over the wretched condition of our immigration policies.  The Haitian community on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is one of my main points of contact with migration questions, but I realized in writing the letter how few people I have talked to in that community.

Since the letter, I began having more conversations.  It’s true that the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians is scheduled to come to an end next yearFGCOIGC3YBDT7AGKY4XLK6DYNY, but the pace of folks leaving has slowed, in part because employers here have recognized that their work force is imperiled and have begun to speak out.

So, perhaps I will get to know my Haitian neighbors better.  Perhaps we will start to have real conversations about a rational, humane, immigration policy. Perhaps.

In the meantime, I’m listening to Ry Cooder’s great new cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s 1930 gospel blues song, “Everybody Ought to Treat a Stranger Right.”  It’s right out of Matthew 25.

One of the verses goes:

All of us down here are strangers

None of us have no home

Don’t ever hurt your brother

And cause him to feel alone


Everybody ought to treat a stranger right

Long ways from home

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right

A long ways from home

Rescuing Hope: And Other Lessons From the Cave

unnamedTuesday the news was filled with the spectacle of reporters crying. They weren’t alone. Maybe you shed a few tears yourself when you heard that 12 boys and their coach had made their way out of a cave in Thailand.  “We can take a breath now,” a Miami diving instructor said on CNN before choking up.

Why did we get riveted to a spectacle on the other side of the world?  Why did people who can’t seem to agree on much of anything share a common greeting—‘Have you heard how many boys are out’?

Maybe it’s because we all feel like we’ve been trapped in a cave with rising waters and a hard rain ready to fall.

It’s not that there aren’t plenty of rescues needed in every neighborhood. Go to the summer program at Agape Christian Children’s Community Center in Horntown here on the Eastern Shore and you’ll see how God’s love is drawing together volunteers and children.  Or the Una Familia summer program where children whose families are often living on the margins get a chance to grow and play.  Opportunities abound.


Summer Program – Una Familia

But there was something about the way the whole world came together to bring the boys out that showed us a thing we crave more than rescue—hope.  A team of people with a common purpose used their skills, even to the point of self-sacrifice, to reunite children with their families.  And no one questioned if it mattered or if it was possible.  Everyone gave their best.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”  There is much for our hands to do as the people of God and when we are in touch with the hope that is within us, we will find ourselves as motivated as the cave rescue team.  It’s a hope that found us when we were in darkness and despair and took on a treacherous journey through the waters to new life.

I’ll remember the faces of those boys for a long time.  And maybe I’ll also remember my baptism and be thankful, hopeful, and ready to put my hand to the work of the God who saves.

There’s Something Still the Matter with Kansas: Thomas Frank and a Sinking Society

Thomas Frank is the kind of writer who gets trotted out when the national media wants to cast its distracted gaze on the hinterlands.  It helped that he wrote a book a decade and more back about his home state titled What’s the Matter with Kansas? After the 2016 election a whole lot of pundits wanted to know the answer to that question.  Why would so many people in the heartland vote for a candidate with big city, Acela Corridor brashness and a class profile so different from the majority of his voters?

When he wrote that book in 2004, Frank was pointing to the populism to come, noting the many working class folks who have been growing ever more distanced from the elite who, unlike them, have benefitted from the cosmopolitan world that global economic trading and technological innovation have created.  Frank himself may have wandered from his thesis in the Obama years, if the essays collected in his latest book are any indication.  Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society shows a writer searching for a master narrative that only snaps into focus with the presidential election.

To crib from Samuel Johnson, there’s nothing like a catastrophe to concentrate the mind.

Catastrophe.  Oblivion.  A sinking ship.  That’s what Frank sees when he looks at America.  (The ship also graces the cover of the book.)  In early essays dating from 2011-2014, his targets are diffuse.  As in Sarah Kendzior’s essays in her recent collection, The View from Flyover Country, Frank’s preoccupations in this period are with the academic world, journalism, inequality, and even the empty sloganeering of civic boosters.  (Don’t get him started on ‘vibrancy’!)

As the apocalypse…er…election approaches, however, you can see him returning to Kansas, and Missouri, and all the places that were enthralled with the Trump candidacy, trying to figure out what is going on. He recognizes that the ever-present populist impulse in rural America has no voice on the left today.  Democratic leaders, who used to champion the interests of unions and the working class against Wall St. have now thrown their lot with money.  Insurgent voices were actively marginalized and the professional class has developed a ‘softly, softly’ approach to change.  Big ideas couldn’t succeed, this group felt, so they had to be smothered.

At the same time, as prosperous, two-coast America divorced itself from the deindustralized, depopulating, despairing countryside, “the Trump movement [was characterized] as a one-note phenomenon, a vast surge of race hatred.  Its partisans not only are incomprehensible, they are not really worth comprehending.” (173)

Rural America picked up on the condescension, and Frank sees it as an indication of one of the key challenges facing those who would turn the country a different way.  “It is uncompromising moral stridor that has come to dominate the opinion pages and the airwaves of the enlightened—a continuous outpouring of agony and aghastitude at Trump and his works.” (218)  Without some introspection and reconnection with its traditional base, Frank feels, the Democratic Party is condemned to a future in which the only satisfaction it can expect is “a finger wagging in some vulgar proletarian’s face, forever.” (222)


Thomas Frank

I was glad that Frank eventually found his groove in this book.  Before he returned, late in the book, to Marceline, Missouri to see what had happened to Walt Disney’s hometown Main Street, (the inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A.), I worried that he had was leaving the Midwest behind for shinier objects elsewhere.  But the crisis of the current moment brought him back to his roots.  

The title bespeaks a gloomy outlook.  “This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve,” he says on the opening page. (1)  But for all his alarm bells about “the golden age of corruption,” (2) “the casual dishonesty of politics” spilling over into everyday life (4), and the con game the economy has become for so many Americans, Frank still believes in the essential wisdom of where he came from.  Even if he doesn’t think we’re in that Kansas anymore.

Metropolitan Books provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Fracking & A Fractured Land

The Washington County Fair in 2010 should have been unalloyed joy for Stacey Haney and her family.  After all, Haney’s 14-year-old son, Harley, and his goat, Boots, took the Grand Champion Showmanship award.  Paige, her 11-year-old daughter, got awards for her two rabbits, Pepsi & Phantom, and for her Mexi-SPAM Mac and Cheese entry in the cooking contest.  They had a load of ribbons to take back to their small farm in Amity, Pennsylvania.

But things were not O.K.

Harley was sick–some kind of strange stomach ailment that left him listless and unable to get to school.  Stacey had an odd rash.  And the neighbor’s goat, Cummins, had died, his insides crystallized, “as if he’d drunk antifreeze.” (12)  Perhaps, they began to think, it had something to do with the fracking wells and waste pond just up the hill.

Hydraulic fracturing technology, or fracking, transformed America’s energy market in the last decade.  By breaking apart shale deep in the earth using millions of gallons of pressurized water and chemicals, the fracking boom released abundant natural gas.  The gas burned cleaner than coal and it was underneath American soil, enabling even environmental advocates to imagine that it might be a bridge fuel to a future when renewables could shoulder most of the load.

In places like Appalachia, where the Haneys live, the new industry brought new life, new money, and new visibility to a region dragged over by previous energy booms.  Landowners, including Haney, got paid for the mineral rights to their land.  Extraction companies like Range Resources touted the millions they contributed to local communities through impact fees and road improvements.  One township supervisor “called them a ‘godsend.’” (280)

But there were other impacts and the Haneys were feeling them.  Over the course of eight years, as Eliza Griswold tracks this family in her powerful new book, they lose their health, their animals, their house, and their trust in just about everyone except a pair of crusading lawyers who tilt at the windmills of industry and the government agencies that should be protecting them.

Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America is the kind of propulsive read that marks our great story-telling journalist/writers today.  Griswold uses her extensive visits to the region and understanding of this one family to tell a story that is much larger.  She is telling us about small things like county fairs, hard-working single mothers, the ties that bind together neighbors, and the persistent pleasures of small town life.  But she’s also telling us about God, politics, government, industry, and the perils of living in a resource-rich, desperately poor region.

It’s about America, and given the state of things at the moment, that makes it a tumultuous read.  Griswold’s writing has all the flair and clarity of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, but unlike that uplifting story of a World War II hero displaying courage and endurance in the face of unimaginable hardship in defense of America, Amity and Prosperity takes us into the places where that endurance is not always recognized and the victories not so clear.  In the eight years since Hillenbrand’s book was published, we’ve moved from Unbroken to Fractured.

Griswold may seem like an unlikely chronicler of this tale.  The veteran journalist has spent years in far-flung places around the globe.  Her last book, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, went deep into the heart of Africa and Asia tracing the front line of religious and ideological conflict.  What brought her back was her realization that 

“so many of the problems of collective poverty plaguing Africa and Asia were becoming more evident in America.  I decided it was time to come home, to turn my attention to how we tell stories about systemic failings here in the United States.” (307)

Not that she came back to write a strident, partisan critique.  Amity & Prosperity is far from that kind of book.  Its characters, including Stacey Haney, are complex people who don’t fall easily into stereotypes.  There are plenty of Trump voters, but there are skeptics, too.  What they share, from the days when coal was king, is

“a sense of marginalization and disgust, both with companies that undermine the land and with the urbanites who flick on lights without considering the miners who risk their lives to power them.  Today, the fracking boom has reinforced those convictions.” (6)

Religious viewpoints here verge on the fatalistic.  One older woman says that the poisoned waters from fracking are a Revelation-foretold sign of the end times.  “God permitted this to happen because the U.S. has gotten so far from him,” she tells Griswold.  “I just hope we’re raptured out of here.” (268-9)


Eliza Griswold

Stacey sees it in more personal terms.  The utilitarian arguments from the Obama Administration become for her a kind of cruel sentence.  The greatest good for the greatest number of people meant that “it was Stacey against the Bangladeshi woman who was losing her farm to a rising sea.  It was Stacey against factory workers eager for a manufacturing revival.  It was Stacey against most of the world, and Stacey was losing.” (223)

The rural landscape Griswold reveals bears resemblance to my own Eastern Shore of Virginia as Monica Hesse described it in last year’s American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land.  Written in a similar style, Hesse’s book also uses a narrow story, (in her case, a string of arsons), to uncover a larger picture.  What it’s about is personal but it’s also about “America: the way it’s disappointing sometimes, the way it’s never what it used to be.”

These reports from the field by remarkable journalists are not encouraging.  Griswold depicts a creaky, hapless, corrupt federal apparatus that is less and less able to confront powerful interests and to address the concerns of rural residents who do not trust the government.  Those who do try to make a stand, like Stacey and the valiant lawyers Griswold describes as Mr. & Mrs. Atticus Finch, must be committed to years of painstaking work with little pay and no guarantee of success.

It’s a credit to Griswold’s talents that she keeps the suspense about the outcome going until the very end.  It’s up to the reader to discern if the best outcome the book describes is the haul of ribbons at the county fair in 2010, which seems so long ago.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Look for my interview with Eliza Griswold, coming soon.

Who is This ‘We’?: Poetry for the ‘Families Belong Together’ Rally


photo by FancyCrave via Unsplash

I’m not going to make the ‘Families Belong Together’ Rally in Onancock today (Saturday, June 30) from 11-12:30. And when asked for a statement, I couldn’t find the words.  So I contributed this poem to be read.  May we find the ‘we’ that is truly ‘us.’

Who is this ‘we’ into which I am enlisted?

What is this sweet land of liberty I invoke when I sing, “My country ’tis of Thee”?

What God do I invite to bless America?

Who are the ‘we’ who hear cries from the Valley of Texas

and wonder what ‘we’ we have become?


‘Our’ ancestor, we Christians say, was a wandering Aramean.

When we look to the Scriptures we hear Deuteronomy’s command

to look after ‘them’—the sojourners in our midst—

because ‘we’ were sojourners in other lands.

We are those who sing ‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless child’

while motherless children in scattered camps feel it more.

We are those who have beaten our breasts (insufficiently)

and sought repentance (insufficiently)

and proclaimed (insufficiently)

that we see and deplore the excesses and the evils

of native peoples separated from their lands and kin

of enslaved peoples separated from their lands and kin

of Japanese American families detained with their kin.

The injury is not only to ‘them’

but to us.


When we use the rationale of deterrence to excuse cruelty,

we injure ‘us.’

When we meet those who have left troubled lands seeking asylum here

and offer them instead more trouble, more trauma, no room at the inn,

we injure ‘us.’

When we allow our immigration policy, debate, and system

to devolve into division and expressions of helplessness

we injure ‘us.’


“When was it that we saw you homeless, naked, hungry, imprisoned

and did not respond with the love you showed us

but instead with the inhumanity we know too well?,”

the separated goats asked Jesus.

“When you did not see me crying for my father, my mother, 

my daughter, my son.

“When you did not see.

“When the injury came to me,

it came to you.”

It comes to us.


Who is this ‘we’ into which we are enlisted?

It is you and me and them and us.

We are one people.


To call for a humane and fair immigration system is not a call

for the end of borders or law enforcement or thoughtful policy.

It is a call for the end of injury

…to all of us.

—29 June 2018

No One’s Anything:  A Reflection on Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason


photo by Oscar Keys via Unsplash

Peter Surran, is a pastor, teacher, EMT, building inspector, and a good friend.  He’s also a heck of a writer.  I’ve been wanting to get him on the blog for awhile and finally roped him in with a review of Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens For a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved.  Enjoy:

I bustled into my 40’s pretty sure I knew how I was going to die.  Heart disease and colon cancer run in my family, so I hit the Middle Ages with a plan of attack. I was going to go on a diet and get screened for polyps.  I have had some success with the diet (did you know it is really diet AND exercise, not diet and/or?) and I followed my doctor’s advice by submitting a poop sample. It turns out my sample got lost, or the results did, because I never heard back until I harassed the doctor’s office and he finally called me and said, “Your poop was negative.  There, don’t you feel better?” 

No, I did not feel better, and reading Kate Bowler’s book Everything Happens For A Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved made me feel even worse.

Bowler was someone who had it all, according to her own definition: 

“Married in my twenties, a baby in my thirties, I won a job at my alma mater straight out of graduate school. I felt breathless with the possibilities.” (xiv) 

Having spent so much time studying the prosperity gospel and those who adhere to it, she had, to an extent, bought into it. Until she didn’t.

The foul ball that crashed through the window of her contentment was a cancer diagnosis.  In this, Bowler was certainly not alone.  According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018.  That means there will be almost 2,000,000 brand new cancer stories.  

Not all of those new patients are Kate Bowler, of course.  Not all have the educational background to reflect deeply and write so well. That’s the first thing.  Of course, not everyone had so ironically invested so much time studying the prosperity gospel, which teachings clashed so audibly with her reality. And not everyone was positioned with connections at Duke University to get their insurance to cover an experimental treatment program, which not everyone can get into because not everyone has what Bowler calls the “magic cancer,” which would potentially respond to the treatment.


Kate Bowler

That’s what makes this book so damned scary.  The only reason that Kate Bowler lived to write it is because she is, in fact, Kate Bowler.  Everything aligned so that she might suffer through treatments which give her about 60 more days until it’s time to do it all over again.  It might not be how we would define prosperity, but it’s living, and it’s a life only she could live, 60 days at a time.

She doesn’t like the Job comparison.  It can’t be helped.  But not for the obvious reasons.  Well, maybe those, but for others, too.  Mainly because Job is a thumb in the eye of the certainty crowd.  The guy you’d never expect to lose it all does somehow. He gets it all back in the end, but I suspect that was added to please the masses, like the fake ending of Mark’s gospel.  One of the beauties of Bowler’s book is that there is no neat wrap-up.  All we know is that she gets to have another 60 days.  

What would we do if we thought we only had 60 days left to live?  What would we do if we went to the doctor one day for a routine physical and left there knowing that we had, in Kurt Vonnegut’s words, “cancer of the everything”?  What would you do if you found out you were in perfect health and would live another 50 years?

I came away from Everything Happens understanding that no one’s anything is ever the same as anyone else’s.   And I don’t really know how I’m going to die.  I could be polyp-free and get hit by a bus.  The main section of the book ends with the sentence, “I will die, yes, but not today.”  I hope she wrote that at night.  Only way to know for sure.  

Random House provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You can support Heartlands by buying a copy of the book through this link:

Image 6-28-18 at 9.12 AM

Peter’s the one on the right

Peter Surran lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with his family and three dogs and a cat.  He is pastor of Eastville Baptist Church, works full-time for the County of Accomack, part-time for Regent University’s English Department, and enjoys reading and writing when he is able.  Book reviews give him a great excuse to do both! 

Why We Don’t Care About ‘The National Water Situation’


“For all my love of rivers, ‘our nation’s rivers’ have not moved me once.  The rivers that move me are those I’ve fished, canoed, slept beside, lived on, nearly drowned in, dreamed about, sipped tea and wine by, taught my kids to swim in, pulled a thousand fish from, fought and fought to defend.  I’ve come to suspect, for this reason, that is only the personal geography–the one experienced in daily depth–that can in fact be in-habited, and only the personal geography that has that Yeatsian ability to connect us, root to root, to people or places we’ve never met…

“The personal geographies conveyed via the arts converge in our interiors, create resonance, expand knowing through mysterious soul-to-soul empathy.  Whereas ‘the national water situation,’ I have come to suspect, will never create anything more artful than bureaucrats.”

—David James Duncan, My Story as Told by Water, p. 72-73.

If that stirred your soul…consider joining Alex for a writing retreat where the Tye meets the James

Soul of Place - Flyer

Everyday Apocalypse: Poetry


photo by Joe Leahy via Unsplash

Katherine Sonderegger is right when she says:

It is a wonder that Moses is not annihilated—consumed—by the Name uttered to him in the wilderness.  For all the other apocalypses in Holy Scripture can only pale before this Naming, the annihilating Speech of God as Subject.  This is the end, the finality of all creatures, of all reality.” (Katherine Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1: The Doctrine of God, 222)

The whole thing should have ended right there at the burning bush—

Moses face-to-face with this lethal revelation of the Divine Presence. 

And yet it didn’t.  It doesn’t. 

Each moment, each atom,

does not explode the universe

despite its unlimited power. 

Here be dragons.  Here be angels. 

Here be the End of All Desires and the Furnace Forging New Ones. 

Who needs a trajectory toward apocalyptic catastrophe? 

Suns melt every day. 

Moons turn to blood. 

Stars come crashing down out of the firmament. 

And we blithely go on,



–Alex Joyner