What's Tony Thinking

It’s June


It’s June . . . where did May go? Or as Judy Collins sang, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” 

Early in the week I reported, and lamented, a Memorial Day snowfall here in the Wallowas. Since then we’ve had beautiful weather. And that snowfall probably had something to do with a delightful crop of morel mushrooms popping up here and there.

My college botany professor, Martha Springer, implanted the fear of God in us about eating wild mushrooms and getting the wrong one and dying a miserable death. So it’s a big deal to find, harvest and eat these wild mushrooms. But, my, they are tasty.

Yesterday’s entertainment was a crew of four guys taking down a dead tree in the neighborhood. It’s quite an art to do that work, and to drop a tree in a particular, tight location so as to avoid power lines and structures.

In this neck of the woods a lot of men, as well as some women, still make their living by doing hard physical work, some of it work that is also dangerous, like taking down big dead trees. We watched with fascination as they went through a series of well-calculated steps to get the intended result. At times it seemed like boys at play with a lot of yelling, and some whopping and hollering. But if there was some play to it, it was serious play.

We’ve heard a lot in recent years about “toxic masculinity.” There is that. But there are some traditional masculine virtues that were on display in the tree crew, including courage, risk-taking and plain hard work. All of that is still prized, honored and respected in a culture like that of Wallowa County, which I tend to think is a good thing for boys. I had the feeling that these guys really enjoyed what they were doing. Here’s a shot of one of the guys hanging off the side of a 200′ tree.

I have been reading Alan Noble’s book, We Are Not Our Own. I recommend it. Noble, an English prof and Christian, contrasts the anthropology that has come to dominate contemporary culture with a Christian anthropology.

The former stresses personal autonomy — we belong to ourselves. That’s hardly new, but with the admixture of meritocracy’s relentless striving and the social media push to brand and constantly curate an identity for yourself, it creates a lot of insecurity and sense of inadequacy among us. Which is not good for boys, or girls.

A Christian anthropology tells that we are not, in fact, our own. We belong to Christ who loves us and gave himself for us. It is not, therefore, up to us to justify our own existence, nor can we. We are the good creatures of a loving Lord, justified by his grace. Nor is it all on us to fabricate and curate an identity for the world to affirm and admire. Our identity is given by baptism into Christ. We rest in God, or as Augustine famously said, “Our hearts are restless until we rest in thee.”

Rest is something that has become elusive for anxious, “it’s never enough, no matter what you do or who you are” moderns . . . well, time to get back to work (just kidding). The work I do here at the cabin is for me a kind of play, well mostly.


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