The Corner

Chicken Pox & East Tennessee

I got enough questions at Gordon Biersch last night to remind me that when one starts a conversation in this happy Corner, one must finish it. To tie up two threads:

Did I or did I not come down with chicken pox? I did not. My doc tells me that what I had instead was gastroenteritis, a high-falutin’ way, as best I can tell, of saying that he doesn’t know quite what it was but that it was never going to kill me. For another couple of days now, I’m supposed to subsist on toast and bouillon, by comparison with which the locusts and honey of St. John the Baptist have begun to seem like high delicacies. But I’m a lot better, as witness that I was able to drag myself out last night, and thanks for asking.

How’d I like East Tennessee? Loved it. After giving a talk at UT (that would be the University of Tennessee, of course), a student approached to chat for a moment. “Wouldn’t you say that President Bush wears his religion on his sleeve?” the young man asked. Having been through this conversation who knows how many times before, I instantly started into my yes-but-religion-has-a-place-in-public-life talk, complete with references to the Declaration of Independence and Washington’s farewell address. As it turned out I was wasting my breath. “Yeah, well, that’s why I like President Bush,” the student said. “The President is a God-fearing man.”

An unself-conscious expression of reverence, out loud, in a classroom, in a public university. All hail East Tennessee.

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