Wears Valley, TN – Even in the silence of the timeless Great Smoky Mountains, it’s nearly impossible to get away from the world’s aches and pains, not to mention horrors. The only way to do it is to unplug completely.
That means not looking at a computer, cell phone or TV, or listening to the radio. It means ignoring headlines in newspaper racks. No wonder so many people go backpacking.
Well, there’s unplugged and there’s us. We couldn’t do it. I was stealing peeks at Drudge and the Washington Times on my phone at rest stops on the drive down. Yes, the world is still a mess.
Just as we were settling into a cabin for a few days, my wife got a Facebook notice asking all Christians everywhere to pray for those who were about to experience the tender mercies of the Islamic State in northern Iraq. You don’t just knock off a quick prayer and move on. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and pondering the Great Questions, such as why God permits evil.
Gazing for a moment at the peaceful valley, I marveled at the contrast between life in modern America and many miserable places overseas. We are blessed with electricity, indoor plumbing, freedom of religion, speech and association, and what passes for self- government. Plus, we have baseball, which is a matchless chess game with moving figures. And, since we’re in the South -- football.
Then I began thinking about city life versus country life. Everywhere we’ve gone in rural Virginia and Tennessee, folks have been open and welcoming. People actually stop and talk with strangers.
You couldn’t operate like this in, say, D.C. or New York, because you’d never get anywhere. And if you’re an urbanite or suburbanite, the outright friendliness can take some getting used to.
Two of the best non-literary portrayals of country life on city slickers are the movie “What About Bob?” And the “Man in a Hurry” episode of TV’s “The Andy Griffith Show.”
In the 1991 movie, a neurotic, paranoid patient (Bill Murray) follows his arrogant would-be celebrity shrink (Richard Dreyfuss) to the therapist’s summer home at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. In a short time, Bob, the patient, regains his sanity, but not before driving his therapist mad, culminating in a disastrous book segment appearance on “Good Morning America.”
In “A Man in a Hurry” (1963), a busy businessman driving to Charlotte breaks down in Mayberry, where Sheriff Andy Taylor, Deputy Barney Fife, Aunt Bea and Gomer Pyle astound him with their slow pace of life. If you’ve ever gone on vacation only to find that you can’t unwind immediately, you might relate to the businessman.