In a singularly pro-move from where I’m sitting, the governor of Illinois closed all the schools. My wife, a schoolteacher, was able to enter quarantine before getting sick, which means that her parents (who are over 60 and live in our building) won’t get sick either! We’re quarantined, but sans virus (hopefully) and avec many digital streaming services. We’re very lucky.
In the meantime, 3rd Dub Recordings has relocated to our bedroom closet, where I’m working on reading the first volume of a stellar biography of William Faulkner by Carl Rollyson. More on this later. I’m wrapping up the editing for From Christ to Confucius: German Missionaries, Chinese Christians, and the Globalization of Christianity, 1860-1950 by Albert Monshan Wu. From Christ to Confucius has been very eye-opening. It’s a deep dive into the history of the Protestant and Catholic missionary movements in China; focusing specifically on the efforts of conservative Germany missionary societies the BMS (Lutheran) and the SVD (Catholic). Their stories in China reflect the changes that were happening in Europe from 1860-1950, and watching the decline of colonialism and the rise of secularism, Communism and Fascism as they ripple across the Chinese religious landscape is FASCINATING. The key events Wu relates all happened almost exactly 100 years ago, but they continue to resonate.
I reached out to the author through his American University of Paris email address but haven’t heard back. The virus is not good in France. We hope he’s all right.
It’s hard to think of this time in quarantine — which is so different from my normal Chicago life of walking to and from the office where I work all day — as actual time. It feels like a liminal time, some time between this and that, as we wait to see how bad the virus gets. This morning I remembered the third part of T. S. Eliot’s “The Dry Salvages,” which I recorded and posted on SoundCloud. It’s the third of his Four Quartets, all of which are about time; they are meditations on the past and the future to find some way of reckoning with the present.
This quarantine time is a time between times, a time dedicated to waiting. But maybe all times are like that. The Four Quartets has something to say about that idea, and T. S. Eliot uncovers some memorable truths as he goes about saying it. Check them out! Much-needed, under-valued wisdom in there for our own chaotic and reactionary time.