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The Beauty of Order or There is More to Life Than Jonathan Livingston Seagull

The Roots of American Order

Sometimes, on rare occasions, we learn from failure. I thought I would share an area in which I struggle and fail. The broad category of my failure is defined by the word ‘order’ and it has come to light because our online book club is reading Russell Kirk’s The Roots of American Order. I have finished chapter 1 and I loved it but just the thought of thinking about ‘order’ has caused me some pain, and hyperventilation. My mental picture of order tends to be dressed as a Prussian; he is definitely a fascist. I am not sure when I met him. I think it might have been when I was attending a church whose favorite verse was I Corinthians 14:40 “Let all things be done decently and in order”. This generally meant “Do what you are told and don’t ask questions.” This was difficult for me because I was born with a bumper sticker on my forehead which read, “Question everything!”

On the other hand, I might not have been so afraid of order if I hadn’t had 8 boys because I do have a drop or two of German blood and, what is more, Dutch blood (I like to apply my sturdy bones to sweeping the hearth.) But there comes a time when you either have to compromise on order or be dragged away in a straightjacket. For example, take socks. How exactly do you go about organizing socks for 8 boys? Don’t answer. You are wrong. I already tried that idea. Here is what works: you keep all the socks, white preferably, in a large laundry basket. The truth is there are a lot of better ideas than this, orderly ideas, and you could make them work only they would be the only thing you could do all day long. Your hobby would be socks. But try telling that to my mother.

Then there is grammar. Grammar is orderly, rigid, unchanging, and possibly omniscient. It is a great mystery to me. I only really had 8 weeks of grammar in 8th grade and I could hardly wait to get back to my avant-garde literature teacher’s class where we were reading Romeo and Juliet and Jonathan Livingston Seagull AND she liked my poetry, or at least she said she did.

So there it is. I am a Bohemian. Deep down inside I KNOW that you cannot have flesh without bones, I just don’t know why the bones people have tend to be so uncompromising and why they think you can have bones without flesh. Those are called dry bones. Yuk.

But not Russell Kirk, he makes order sound as pretty as an embroidered-skirt and flip-flops. The sun is rising over my field of daisies. I may even manage to teach logic someday.

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