Garrison Keillor on "Paradise"

Garrison Keillor has a great column in today’s Chicago Tribune (I am sure it is syndicated elsewhere, but I read it in the Tribune) in which he takes a nice shot at all those folks (including himself) basking in the sun in Florida for the holidays. Here are a few snippets:

The problem with paradise is that it’s temporary: You don’t belong here and the neighbors are nobody you care to know, so it’s only blissful for a week or so. You’re in a city built on sandy marsh in a boom period, and when you look around at the freeway, the office parks, the malls, the curvy streets of houses, your hotel, you see nothing that predates 1980, nothing that distinguishes this city from Scottsdale or Fort Lauderdale or any other suburb in America, which is exhilarating to some people but not to you. And the people around you are all in the throes of relaxation.

What we talk about up north in December is the existence of God, but I don’t sense much theology here in paradise, just a large sense of entitlement. Up north, you talk about God because life is brutal when the wind blows hard. You need a reason to keep trudging forward across the frozen tundra. The fundamental religion of most of mankind is the faith that God has revealed Himself to us and not to the barbarians. Our tribe is the one God chose and so if we vanquish the other tribes and rain fire and destruction on them, we’re only carrying out God’s Will. There is a countervailing faith that says that God is in and of the world and has bestowed vast gifts to be shared with others, and that our understanding of God is faint and incomplete and so we should walk softly and not assume too much.

When I’m up north, I naturally tend toward the warrior view, believing myself to be one of the Chosen, the select few to whom The Great Giver of Truth has vouchsafed the sacred secrets, but now, in the suburban tropics, eating blackened grouper under the southern moon, I am sliding into hedonistic pantheism, slouching down the coast of Florida toward Key West, on a quest to make my wife and daughter happy until the money runs out and we regain our senses and head home. More certitude next week. Meanwhile, Happy 2010, dear reader. I lift a glass of sparkling water to you.

2 thoughts on “Garrison Keillor on "Paradise"

  1. Susanna: Thanks for the post. I discovered Keillor a bit later in life. His weekly syndicated is great.

    Happy New Year to you as well. I hope the new job is going well.


  2. Already a huge fan of Garrison Keillor, was so excited to see him mentioned and quoted on your blog. I think his book “Homegrown Democrat” is one of my all time favorites, and I love to catch a episode of “A Prairie Home Companion” whenever I get a chance. Happy New Year Prof. Fea!


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