Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Welcome to America, You Devil-Possessed Heathen

A 19-year-old Polish exchange student's account of spending quality time in a Winston-Salem home -- "My Half-Year of Hell With Christian Fundamentalists" -- was published (in English) in "Der Spiegel Online." Part of it is believeable, though much of it reads like a clueless Paris Hilton confessional about survival in the yucky midlands of America. In other words, he's pretty much a typical teenager, and his account is maybe more than anything a testiment to the universalizing of teenager disaffection with authority.

Whether he got the details right may not be as important as understanding his version of what happened as a prevailing European stereotype of "George Bush's America" ... Bible-totin' and intolerant.

The boy's story, and his inability to deal successfully with Southern folk culture, reminds me of what the Greensboro writer Fred Chappell once said was the best possible answer to the question, "Son, do you love Jesus?"

"Well, I like 'im."

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