I’m about halfway through Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. I’ve spent most of my life with a vague sense of the story. The title has been popping up here and there these last few years, including a recent mention on Twitter, so I thought I’d finally check it out.
This morning I finished what is supposedly the most controversial chapter of the children’s class: “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” Up until that chapter, there had been hints of something deeper in the wide world of Mole and Rat. Badger is a kind of hint in that direction (almost in a Chestertonian way). The strongest hint came in Mole’s unexpected return to his long-forgotten home. And then you get “the Piper.” It’s a chapter, I have since learned, that sometimes gets removed from copies of the book. It’s likely as much because it could be easily removed from the greater story. Plus there’s an appearance of Pan. People obviously respond differently to any kind of god or demigod showing up in a children’s story. One site I visited mentioned the idea of the “numinous,” which is something that Lewis mentions a number of times when writing about God and the religious impulse.
It’s a beautiful chapter, particularly when juxtaposed with the chapter about Mole’s home. Because the world is deeper and wider than we often imagine it to be. Or at least we forget that fact (which is, it turns out, also part of the story for Mole and Rat). I suppose I’ll pick the story up again soon enough with Toad in jail. And we’ll see where things go from there.
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I think I’ve found a workable routine for summer break when I return from my trip. Today I had lunch a new place downtown (new to me, at least). They served a massive Cubano sandwich, much more than I was anticipating.
Beyond that, I spent the afternoon processing the news concerning Russell Moore and the Southern Baptist Convention. One of the blessings/curses of living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is that certain things either travel slowly or just don’t seem to make it over the water. But this news is heart-breaking, and on multiple levels. This just adds another level of “what comes next?” to life (though obviously on a less-immediate scale for me). But as a member of a Southern Baptist church and a teacher teacher at a school with necessary Southern Baptist ties (and as a graduate of a Southern Baptist college and seminary), I feel a not-negligible sense of concern for things. I suppose I should have known better.
(image from amazon.com)