In a little while I will head to Lincoln Square and to the Sulzer library. A couple of nights ago, the lights were not yet up in the neighborhood, but as today is a day to honor small business shopping I suspect they will be today. Until this last year I always thought of Lincoln Square as a neighborhood of winter. The German shops where I would buy holiday chocolate from are the reason for this.
Today there will be no shopping. I want to return the book on Bonhoeffer and the short stories by Updike. While there I will be able to look over a collection more substantial than our branch libraries, which offer little more than the smallest town libraries back in Ohio. In fact they often seem to have less. (As a teen in Marion I was spoiled by what I later found out was an extensive library, though Marion is not really what I would call a small town.)
I should still count myself fortunate though to have the selection of libraries we have here. Daley made libraries a priority, even rebuilding them in the time of kindle and economic demise. I hope the current mayor will do the same.
With Daley out of office, some of the city’s culture has already changed. With Maggie’s death on Thanksgiving this was reinforced. The vacant lot that was an embarrassment to our downtown took on new life with her as she turned it from gaping hole into a place for youthful artisans. This sometimes ran countered to her husband’s business friendly perspective and the place eventually did become 108 North State, but in this economy it lakes the vitality of Gallery 37.
Rahm Emanuel has also put a different face on the city and I suspect he will keep Chicago in the global spotlight, though I am afraid it will lose some of its Midwestern charm. The other night as he lit the tree downtown he referred to it as the holiday tree. Daley never did this and Chicago as a city never apologized in 98 years of lightings for calling it a Christmas tree.
This action causes me some distress. When people become tepid about whom they are, society has no future. It would be better if those who wish to diminish Christmas would petition that their own philosophies and traditions be represented in public spaces than to tear down the beauty held by Christians. And if these others cannot aspire to beauty then it is to their diminishment.
America should not seek to go the way of the French and say no religion. Rather we should say every religion. A thought has remained with me for days, we are losing our starting points. We do not have to agree with one another, but we do have to live in a society that looks at its surroundings and see more than just the thing itself.
The commercial aspect of Christmas did much to bring this on and it is my guess that rapid secularists would give expensive presents even if every public display of Christmas on the planet were ripped of its meaning.