Good afternoon, everyone.
Henry David Thoreau is best known for his famous essay 'Civil Disobedience' which influenced men such as Tolstoy, Hemingway, and JFK. 'Civil Disobedience' only slightly outranks 'Walden' which gives an account of Thoreau's time living alone in Emerson's cabin by Walden Pond.
But arguably, his personal favorite essay was an autobiographical sketch about the joys of walking. He read the essay to an audience a total of ten times, more than any other essay he wrote. The Atlantic published it for the first time following his death in May of 1862.
In the essay, Thoreau celebrates the simplicity of walks. A walk reminds a man that he is a part of nature first, and a member of society second. He denigrates exercise for its own sake and favors the aimless ambulatory stroll through the woods.
Thoreau set aside four hours out of every day to walk in the woods. Anything less made him feel "caged" which tends nicely toward one of the notable lines in the essay: "everything good is wild and free."
To Thoreau, these words undoubtedly held different meanings than they do now, but you get the sense that he means that good things do not bind or constrict themselves. He laments the mechanic or the clerk who must stand ready at their shop, unable to leave for a laconic stroll.
He also mentions the shape of the landscape, how he can go miles and miles without seeing any signs of civilization, no property lines or fences to interrupt the natural landscapes. In other words, Thoreau's walks in the woods are absent in the presence of politics.
Today, you could go walk the red trail at Percy Warner, but the trails have been blazed and the paths have been marked. Politics has made its mark. The land is managed by the Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation Department and, inevitably, politics rears its head in the course of its management.
Of course, we do have politics to thank for the accessibility of the park and its proper maintenance and upkeep, but generally speaking, a park is a malnourished version of what Thoreau talked about when he celebrated walking.
Reading Thoreau's essay had me thinking about how difficult it is to escape politics today. You can go to the Caney Fork and drop in a line, but you are subject to the generation schedules set by the TVA. You can go for a walk at Percy Warner, but never after dark, and you must leash your dog. You can walk through your neighborhood if you're lucky, but must "stay within the lines," so to speak, not wandering too far from the sidewalk lest you get run over by a car or draw the leery gaze of a neighbor. You can move halfway across the world, but your loved ones are never more than a text away.
There was a recent essay (that I can't find) wherein the writer talked about how moving to Australia in the early 90s gave her culture shock, but moving away 20 years later, after the advent of the iPhone and social media, had hardly an impact as she was tied to and convened regularly with the friends she left behind.
The world was not always this way and reading Thoreau's essay reminds you of this. I'm not advocating for a "return" to these primitive conditions. That ship has sailed. Genie out of the bottle. Etc. But what we can take from Thoreau's essay, aside from more walks, is reassurance that our interactions with work, technology, and politics are not the prerequisites for our lives.
❏ DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING
Last week, Governor Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee designated today as a day of prayer and fasting.
In 1776, when our nation was in a battle for her independence, the first continental congress called on all Americans to observe a day of prayer and fasting. In fact, throughout our history people of faith in this country have joined together to humble themselves, to ask God for His forgiveness, and for His blessing on our land.
With the recent attacks on Israel, the day has taken on a new dimension. “From the time of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, the Jewish people have faced adversity, but the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob – who watches over Israel – never slumbers, nor sleeps,” the governor shared with his online followers this morning after he called upon Tennesseans to join him in observance of the day. “Our prayer is that He protect and deliver Israel from her enemies both now and forevermore.”
Not everyone agrees with the governor’s call for a day of prayer and fasting—something he’s been doing since taking office in 2018. East Nashville council member Sean Parker shared his discontent with his followers: “My religious tradition does not include fasting so I really don’t understand it but this seems like a weird thing for an elected official to ask of people.”
In the past, Lee has been accused of “promoting a religious autocracy.” In a 2022 article written by Chloe Cerutti and published by the Tennessee Lookout, Cerutti skewered Lee for declaring a day of “prayer, humility, and fasting.”
For those atheists and agnostics who are part of the 14% of Tennesseans who declare no religious affiliation, this pious proclamation was offensive as well as concerning since it reflects a blatant disrespect for the separation of church and state, a fundamental philosophy on which this nation was founded.
On the flip side, churches across the state are asking their congregations to participate in today’s observance of prayer and fasting; many adding it to their calendars, some including a disclaimer: “Governor Bill Lee has proclaimed Oct. 13 a state day of prayer and fasting,” mentioned Chattanooga’s New City Fellowship. “We see this as a non-partisan effort.”
From Megan Podsiedlik
The Hardest Commutes In The U.S., Ranked (Forbes) After a thorough analysis of eight major data points and three levels of fact-checking, the Forbes Home team determined Nashville, Tennessee as the city with the toughest commute.
Tennessee Appeals Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Covenant Killer Records Case (Star) The court is weighing whether to overturn Davidson County Judge I’Ashea Myles’ ruling to allow Covenant Presbyterian School parents, staff, and others to intervene in the lawsuit and argue why the manifesto should remain locked away from the public.
Downtown Nashville leads pandemic recovery among major U.S. cities, according to study (NBJ) Nashville also had the highest visitor recovery at 103%, and was found to have one of the highest percentages of jobs in the hospitality industry and worker recovery rate. It was near the middle of the pack in terms of residents who live and work downtown.
- Belle Meade Kroger To Anchor New Development On Harding Pike In Nashville (Now Next)
- Garrett Development Corp. pays $17.39 million for massive Dickerson Pike development site (NBJ)
- EV maker plans Gulch retail space (Post)
THINGS TO DO
📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.
🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.
🪕 Ashby Frank @ Station Inn, 9p, $20, Info
🎸 One Big Love Weekend Festival - Night 1 @ The Coliseum, 5p, $15, Info
🎹 Dan Deacon @ The Basement East, 8p, $20, Info
🪕 The Cowpokes @ Acme Feed & Seed, 12p, Free, Info
🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info
🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info
✹ WEEKLY FILM RUNDOWN: October 13-19
The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this week. For a list of new and upcoming films, check out our 2023 Movie Guide.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour The film event of the fall is here as T-Swift brings her world tour to the plebes. Sure to be the biggest box-office weekend since Avengers: Endgame. Playing every Thursday through Sunday through November at literally everywhere.
Cat Person A college sophomore finds the man she met online doesn’t measure up IRL in this razor-sharp horror comedy based on a New Yorker short story. Now playing at the Belcourt.
The Belcourt Presents: Invasion! Aliens just might be real, and The Belcourt couldn’t have picked a better theme for its annual Halloween film series than various incarnations of those little green men. There’s all-time greats like Alien and Predator, marginalized cult flicks of the Mars Attacks! and It Came from Outer Space kind, prestige sci-fi like Arrival and some stuff for the kids, including Muppets from Space. This week also brings an encore of Donald Sutherland at his paranoid best in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Playing throughout October at The Belcourt.
A24 Presents: AMC Thrills and Chills The indie studio that became pioneers of “elevated horror” has teamed with AMC Theatres for a Halloween retrospective of their greatest hits. Festivities continue this week with an encore of X before Under the Skin and the director’s cut of Midsommar make their way back to the big screen later this month. The season’s coolest trip down memory lane. Every Wednesday in October at AMC Thoroughbred 20.
The Latest in Bolly/Tolly/Kolly/Lollywood and Other Special Presentations of Asian and Middle Eastern Imports.
Bhagwan Bharose (Hindi) Two Indian children find their faiths challenges as amid the shifting politics of the nation. Now playing at Regal Hollywood 27.
Agent Zero (Arabic) A university professor encounters mishaps when he becomes an unwitting accomplice to a local gang’s criminal exploits. Now playing at Regal Opry Mills 20.
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.
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- And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.