Monday, June 30, 2008

BACK TO GRANDMA’S GOOD WAR

Yesterday when we set out for a visit to Grace Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, clouds of mist drifted slowly down the Mountain like smoke signals sent up to lead us eastward to the church. The mist didn’t dissipate until we reached Kimball, TN at 8 a.m. Friends we had met during the Silent Retreat at St. Mary’s – Dr. Gerry and Joy Jones; Dick and Alice Ramsey – invited us to hear a book review about Gen-X, presented by a Divinity student from Vanderbilt and to attend services afterward.

The review focused on a subject not confined to Gen-X – man’s search for meaning and his doubts about religious dogma. The Divinity student reviewed VIRTUAL FAITH, THE IRREVERENT SPIRITUAL QUEST OF GENERATION X, focusing on the premise that Gen.-X’s faith is placed not in traditional religious institutionalism but in the simulated life contained in video games and MTV videos of popular culture. After the review, I remarked to my friends that although the author Tom Beaudoin argued that Gen-Xers differ from other generations in their hunger for a spiritual place in a world of consumerism, I thought that this hunger was familiar to all generations of our culture and not just to this demographic group.

There are so many Episcopal churches in this area of TN, all of them architectural gems, and the distinguishing characteristic of Grace Episcopal Church is the side chapel within the huge church. During the Eucharist, a small service takes place at this side altar where Joy Jones, our friend, stood with a companion to offer spiritual and physical healing. Healing is a special emphasis in Grace’s mission statement, along with “the nurturing and challenging character of the Holy Spirit, open to and respecting all who would come.”

During lunch at a Thai Restaurant, our friends began to question me about the books I write, and I found myself stumbling over the list, neglecting to mention one of my latest, GRANDMA’S GOOD WAR. How did I overlook the only book of rhyming poetry I’ve written in 73 years? I’ve received many comments about the book, most of which focus on the nostalgia engendered by reading it. GRANDMA’S GOOD WAR seems to provide a point of identification with a period of our history that has become an important part of modern literature and movies. One reader wrote “wherever we lived in this time, our lives seemed to be almost identical, even to the knitting for war victims.” Another reader wrote that she read it aloud to her son, 16, and he enjoyed her own reminiscences of her childhood, between Baby Boomers and Gen-X. Many readers were fascinated with the 4th grade report card pictured on the back cover of GRANDMA’S GOOD WAR and asked why I made an A- in Conduct and the only B on the card was in Arithmetic. Give me a break!!

Here’s the end poem in GRANDMA’S GOOD WAR entitled “The Good Ole Days.” You can order your own copy of this verse retrospective of the forties from www.theborderpress.net.

THE GOOD OLE DAYS

And from the rubble of the past,
Godfather announced a baleful forecast,

the world ended in the 1950’s exaltation,
we had best be sensible in expectation

of a peace that will never prevail,
too many wars have caused us to fail.

As for my favored 1940’s decade,
this appraisal is tentatively made:

in the 40’s, the unity, patriotism, hope for peace
belied a nation’s determination for wars to cease.

Now, the battle guns centuries old
foretell war after war, out of control,

the planet’s warriors excel in rabid hate,
marching toward Godfather’s predicted fate,

we keep trying to own vast cultures and fields,
no one in the universe willing to yield,

negotiate, withdraw, turn the other cheek,
desperately climbing this self-absorbed peak.

Yet, none of us know for certain if conditions are really worse
than those recorded in this small collection of nostalgic verse.
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