Because you don’t agree with me, that’s why. When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you. And if you want to do the right thing, just be normal. What is normal? Normal is what I say it is.
Normal is an annual ritual in small-town America — in the famous short-story chiller, “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson — whereby the residents gather together to conduct a lottery, a tradition that is believed to ensure a good harvest.
Some neighboring communities have foolishly abandoned the practice, scoffs a village elder.
The winner of the lottery is a randomly chosen citizen, in this story a housewife who fully expected to return to her sink full of dirty dishes and instead is immediately stoned to death by the entire community including her husband and children.
The story has haunted me since sixth grade when my teacher introduced it in an English class. I still wonder what it means. Is it brutal social commentary or just really good horror writing?
I recently learned that when it was first published in The New Yorker magazine in 1948, the story sparked an unprecedented amount of hate mail and to this day remains the most provocative piece the magazine has published.
Angry readers wanted to know what the point was. Hundreds of them canceled their subscriptions.
Other readers wanted to know if such lotteries really existed and if they could attend one as a spectator.
To be clear, the story is fiction, yet the author seemed to know her readers well.
We humans do seem captivated by public execution. Indeed, we Christians position a vile public execution as the centerpiece of our own faith narrative.
We uphold the execution apparatus, oftentimes complete with the dead body, as the most important icon of our Christian faith.
I do not understand the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, not one single bit. I often wonder if Good Friday rituals are gratuitous.
I can’t even look at a telephone pole anymore without getting the creeps — after reading the essay, “Time and Distance Overcome,” by Eula Biss. The writer details how the invention of the telephone pole coincided with the invention of the lynch mob.
Originally, Biss only intended to write about Alexander Graham Bell’s amazing gadget, but when she searched “telephone pole” in newspaper archives she kept finding articles about how it was used to kill people.
She found 2,354 lynching articles, to be exact, in The New York Times archives between 1880 and 1920.
By now, you are probably wondering why someone would submit such a depressing blog dispatch for LivingLutheran.com.
I really don’t blame anyone who has long clicked out of here and on to something far more uplifting. Surfing the vast expanse of the Internet would be better than this.
Hopefully, no Web surfers ended up on a site about the school shooting in Nebraska or the congressional shooting in Arizona or the New Year’s Day mass rape in the Congo. As for myself, I can barely stomach any of this news.
For those of you who are still here, I thank you for staying with me. And I apologize that I do not have wisdom to share with you. The only thing I can offer is this: Love one another, with all your heart, soul and mind.
I wish I could answer the question that is asked in the headline. I wish I could tell you why we get so mad, why we grow hate, why we keep on killing and why we can’t seem to stop the madness.
To be honest, I really don’t know what normal is. Any ideas? Can someone please tell me why we can’t get along?
Terri Mork Speirs is a writer, mother and the communications manager for the Des Moines Area Religious Council. She is studying for a master of fine arts degree in creative writing.