April 26, 2013
GUEST REVIEW: Home is where the Truth is
Home is where the Truth is
by KENNETH W. BICKFORD
Journalist Gene Fowler once found a Holy Bible in the strangest of places—on a shelf, in the library of the notoriously irreligious W. C. Fields. “What the hell are you doing with that?” he inquired. Fields replied in his characteristic drawl “Been lookin’ for loopholes.”
Aren’t we all.
Rod Dreher’s new book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, (subtitled “A Southern Girl, A Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life”) is ostensibly about the author’s sister, who tragically died of lung cancer at the age of forty-two. I say “tragically” because she never smoked, and I say “ostensibly” because, after all, her name is in the title and we do spend a considerable amount of time learning about her, about her relationship with her community and of the sometimes troubling relationship she had with her brother.
But there is so much more.
This is a book about loopholes. It is about humanity’s search for them, about the author’s search for them. It is about how some folks spend their whole lives looking for magical or scientific shortcuts around suffering and pain and alienation—and who receive in exchange for their troubles a spent life and a perfectly toned corpse.
It is a cautionary tale for those who have the very best things but who lack the community that perfects the enjoyment of those things.
But mostly it is a book about the example of Ruthie Leming, who refused to openly weep for her fate, who didn’t stare into the abyss of her unjustifiably shortened life with justifiable rage—who didn’t waste her time looking for loopholes that didn’t exist.