I’m just finishing up reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Small Wonder, and it is fabulous. Simply some of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking essays on the meaning of post-9-11 patriotism, U.S. foreign policy, literacy, human rights, and environmental issues that I’ve ever seen all together in one place.
The essay I read this morning was about the flag and how it belongs to all of us, the doves as well as the hawks. It got me thinking about all those people who printed out flags on their color printers a couple of falls ago and taped them to their car windows, and now you see them going down the road and the paper is all warped and yellowed, and the colors have faded to pink, green, and purple. What are they thinking?
The flag is a symbol that becomes sacred by virtue of the way we treat it – without transubstantiation, the body of Christ in the Eucharist is just a cracker. That’s why we have rules of flag conduct like, ‘don’t ever let the flag touch the ground,’ and ‘don’t fly the flag at night without a light on it.’ One of my old high school girlfriends actually pestered the dean at her college so much about that one that he ended up having a spotlight installed for the flag out in front of the Student Union so that they could leave the flag up at night. She was very proud of that, too.
So then I hear that we’re now getting back at the nation of France for not supporting the war effort by referring to french fries as ‘freedom fries,’ and french toast as ‘freedom toast.’ I would sure like to live in a country that I wasn’t embarrassed by! I mean, why not go all the way and rename them frog’s legs? Pathetic.
Speaking of french fries, here’s another book I recommend highly: