by Tallu Schuyler
Saturday, January 7, 2007
Jessica told us this morning that we would be going to a country church called People’s Church here in Phillipi, West Virginia. I couldn’t wait for the wooden floors, the guitar music and the simplicity of the place. After arriving, I walked in to a newly renovated building to see lyrics of contemporary music projected onto a screen through power point. As the church band sang through the microphones, I noticed some of the walls were lined with Tyvek sheeting and many of the children wore T-shirts bearing the names of familiar television characters and state schools. This is a country church?
Country today is not what country was, but what ever was country anyway? What has been sold to me as perfectly country? I subscribe to a Condé Nast magazine called Country Living. The glossy publication offers me page after page of quaint interiors filled with antique fabrics and worn wooden furniture. It presents readers with photographs of empty, rolling land and lakes and rivers and running water that looks so easy to access. This is what I expect of country.
But having lived in rural East Tennessee, I know country is also crystal methamphetamine and Walmarts, poorly-funded public education and suburban sprawl, 4-lane highways that lead to the mall, struggling farms and unemployment.
People with money have stolen the word country, packaged it up and sold it to people like me, another person with money, who wants to look at pretty pictures. I also want to believe that somewhere life still exists untouched from the damaging effects of globalism, capitalism, and environmental degradation.
But on this second day of our trip, facing the realities of these mountains and talking with the people who live here, I realize the effects of such evils are impossible to escape.
Anyway, what is country living?