On National Identity

When I was a little girl, my grandmother – who had been raised on the Royal Readers – used to ask us how we got so tall.  We’d always say we didn’t know.  She would say:  “Oh, you just growed, hey? Like Topsy?”

We inhabit a society that seems to believe (like Topsy) that things like culture and identity just grow.  We don’t appear to believe that we need to do much to help them along; they come up, like seeds from the ground, and they become whatever they are supposed to become all on their own.

The fact that we believe this shows just how far we’ve come from our farming roots.  People who grow things for a living know that seeds sown don’t “just grow”; if they do, you can’t predict the outcome.  There are all sorts of things that can happen to them along the way, as Christ’s Parable of the Sower makes clear: the sun can scorch ‘em, birds can swallow ‘em, thorns can choke ‘em, stones can kill ‘em.


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