Here’s something I typed up when we drove up to see Maj.’s parents:
So we’re rolling through the mountains of Tennessee. I’m looking out the window as I type this, thinking how lucky we are to be free to move between earth and sky, even pressed as we are by gravity, confined to the ground. Still so many directions we can move in, and so very much to see. The trees are almost all awake, though their leaves are mostly still in miniature and glowing that bright green of spring. The woods here are a tapestry of mounded forms and color: chartreuse, olive, kelly. And the bright white and deep pink of flowering branches, redbud and pear and apple and still some dogwood, though nothing like in Alabama, where they glowed in the darkened under-story that is their natural habitat.
In this setting, with the earth rising up in undulating waves of these diverse greens, everything man-made looks so ugly. It’s our modern building methods, the cheap materials we use, the lack of any aesthetic in utilitarian architecture.
Now we’re moving into Knoxville. The beauty of trees has receded. The highway is four lanes in each direction. Billboards proliferate. The flashing light on a radio tower glares against the grey sky. In the mountains, the drizzle felt nurturing. Here, it’s just messy, and the sky creates a monotone with the concrete, rather than a neutral backdrop against which the colors of life could shine.
After we’ve gotten our heads out of our asses, after we’ve finally rejected religion as anything but a private choice and united in the struggle to fix our forbears’ horrendous mistakes that have led to the immanent ecological crisis, one of the challenges facing the modern human is how to create cities that nurture the individual’s sense of beauty. I may not believe in a soul, but I do believe in a psyche that can be strongly influenced by its surroundings.
One of the things I’ve noticed on this trip is that a lot of trucking agencies have begun putting Biblical passages or religious phrases on the backs of their trucks. We just passed one that quoted a bit from Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Well, someone who thinks God is for THEM. Another said “Jesus is LORD.” Lord of what? That’s a silly word a lot of Christians don’t think much about. It’s left over from the feudal system. Your lord was the nobleman to whom you, as a serf, paid rent (usually a significant part of your crops). So how, exactly, is Jesus my Lord? And why shouldn’t I, instead, be free?