A ghostly thought for the day

Garrison KeillorA Southern friend in a cassock and collar sent along this thought for the day, by way of Garrison Keillor and his Writer’s Almanac out in Public Radio land. You can listen to this online, of course:

It was on this day in 1891 that Henrik Ibsen’s (books by this author) play Ghosts opened on the London stage. Ghosts was considered a controversial play because it contained details about incest and sexually transmitted diseases, and Ibsen refused to give his audiences the happy endings they were used to. The play had already been banned in St. Petersburg on religious grounds when it premiered in London.

Henrik Ibsen wrote in Act 2: “I almost think we’re all of us Ghosts. … It’s not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that walks in us. It’s all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can’t get rid of them. Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see Ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be Ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sand of the sea. And then we are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light.”

Hmmmmm … I’m not sure I want to embrace that fear of the “lifeless old beliefs” of the parents, which certainly hasn’t been a major theme in my life. However, that Ghosts in the newspaper thing is rather nice. I like that image.

Does anyone out there want to offer some other (be nice) newsy thoughts for this busy day?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Stephen A.

    I’m hugely tempted to go after this reflexively lefty, *sometimes* funny fellow for citing the “lifeless old beliefs” comment, but the fact that 1) it wasn’t original to him, and 2) I think many people really do inherit “lifeless” beliefs (i.e. “playing church,” “going through the motions” etc.) from parents and have to find their own way, is an interesting points to bring up through this quote.

    Then again, if Keillor DIDN’T mention a mocking reference to prudish religion (and a little Bush-bashin’ thrown in, just for fun) it wouldn’t be Keillor. Like Coulter on the Right, and folks like Keillor, Garafalo and Maher on the Left, I cut entertainers, even ones who like to shock, a lot of slack. Mocking is what they do, after all. I will say that Keillor is at least subtle in how he expresses his biases, for the most part, as in this example.

  • Jessica

    Tmatt-
    I noticed GetReligion has a new design! It’s a nice change from the green/tan…it looks really good.

  • http://www.southern-orthodoxy.blogspot.com Fr Joseph Huneycutt

    A comment on the comments: The reason I thought of tmatt was the “ghost in the story” reference. Without context (the first quoted paragraph), it would not have made much sense.

    That said, and FWIW, if we relax our cognitive firewalls a bit, we might all recognize some lingering specters — even from childhood — that are lifeless … and only given breath by our constant, albeit involuntary, association with them.

    On the other hand, the ghosts that haunt contemporary news stories are not always invisible due to involuntary associations.

    (Which, in turn, gives life & reason to a worthy site known as GetReligion).

  • http://www.geocities.com/hohjohn John L. Hoh, Jr.

    Watched Sands of Iwo Jima and noticed one line in the movie:

    “Let’s not get religion.” Sgt. John Stryker (played by John Wayne)

  • Scott Allen

    Stephen A., I’ll be “reflexive” for you. Garrison Keillor is another purveyor of “lifeless old beliefs” (joining Dan Rather, Walter Cronkite, Daniel Schorr, and fellow public funds leach Bill Moyers).
    The Left has emulated its Soviet heroes. Seeing folks like Barry Lynn, Jesse Jackson, Jimmy Carter, Garrison Keillor, et. al. is like watching the gerontocracy that ran the USSR come out for the May Day parade. They roll out these same ghoulish wax-like old fogies in suits. Keillor’s interest in a play entitled “Ghosts” is particularly apt.


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