Monday, April 22, 2013

The News and Nothing but the News

“I object, Mother! I strenuously object!  The news is bad enough these days without the frenetic added excitement of some under-clad female reporter.  From the very tone of her voice you can tell that she’s enjoying herself immensely.  How will she ever be able to keep that excitement up when the news is served up cold?  And as for that Matt Lauer, if he asks one more person how his second cousin’s nephew’s dog feels about what’s happening I’m going to give up watching the news forever.”

“Quite right, Alfred,” said Mother indignantly, “Gone are the days of Edward R. Murrow, Charles Collingwood, and Walter Cronkite.  There was a reason why Walter Cronkite was referred to as the most trusted man in America.”

“Absolutely, Mother,” said I, barreling right along, “and he was trusted because he reported the news with dignity and restraint instead of getting emotionally involved in it.  As difficult as some of things were that he reported, one was left with the knowledge that if Walter Cronkite was unflappable, all would be right with the world.”

We had just turned off the evening news and we were sitting in the solarium looking out over our garden and thinking about the events of the recent past; those murders in Kaufman, the disaster in West, and the horrible events surrounding the Boston Marathon.  Mother is particularly affected by what happened in Boston.   Mother comes from one of the oldest and finest families in New England.  Her grandfather Antonio Talliaferro emigrated from Palermo to England and thence to Boston, Massachusetts, where he changed his name to Anthony Toliver.  Mother would often remark that in her grandfather’s day his family had an effective way of dealing with people like terrorists.

In an odd way it was a relief for Mother and I to have something on which we could both agree.  At least she wasn’t focused on my faith adventure!  I hadn’t realized that my encounter with Christ would be like throwing a mill stone in the pond.  The ripples were still spreading and little uncomfortable waves were lapping on the shore.

“Alfred,” said Mother changing the subject, “I am very uncomfortable with that invitation from Grace Whittington!”

“Yes,” said I, waiting patiently for the real issue to emerge.

“Well, it’s tomorrow night, Alfred, and we are supposed to bring our Bibles.  I don’t have a Bible; at least not one that makes sense to me.  There is that old one that belonged to grandmother Talliaferro.  It has funny name; the Douay-Rheims Bible, and it is hard to understand.  Grandfather wasn’t very religious, but grandmother used to attend mass every day. Anyway, bringing a big black Bible would be just too gauche.” 

Mother often had a hidden agenda, a sub-theme that lay behind her frowsing, and I had an idea what it might be.  “Mother,” said I, “I was browsing in the book store the other day and I saw one a lovely red leather bound New Jerusalem Bible that just might do; and red is so much more cheerful than black.  Why it hardly looks like a Bible.”

“Well, I don’t know, Alfred,” said Mother hesitantly. “I suppose so,” but knowing Mother as I do I could tell she was pleased. After all, quality is ever foremost in her mind.

“The Scriptures are Gods Voyce; The Church is His eccho.” – John Donne 17th C

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