I Know It When I See It

She came from Providence, the one in Rhode Island.
Where the old world shadows, hang heavy in the air.
She packed her hopes and dreams, like a refugee.
Just as her father came, across the sea.

She heard about a place people were smilin’.
They spoke about the Red Man’s way, and how they loved the land.
And they came from everywhere, to the Great Divide.
Seeking a place to stand, or a place to hide.

~ The Eagles: “The Last Resort”

For those wondering why the title for this post seems so familiar, it was made famous by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when he used it to describe his threshold test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964). You can click on the following image to get the full story behind that.

images I know it when I see it

For the purposes of this post however, I’d like to focus on how that phrase applies to witnessing the sacred as well as it does to witnessing the profane. A point that jumped right out at me last night, while watching another episode of Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea on PBS…

Last night’s episode, The Morning of Creation, was all about “The Balance Between Preservation and Use,” and went into great detail about the struggles to maintain the beauty of these wild and wonderful places in the face ever mounting popularity and ever dwindling financial resources – where it seems all too easy to allow the expansion of commercial development to help cover those costs, at the risk of ruining the very thing the National Parks were created to preserve.

I was hoping, but wasn’t able to find a clip for that episode, particularly one showing the massive traffic jams of people vying against one another for everything from parking and camping to bathrooms. As one who’s always dreamed of gazing on, in silent, awed worship, at the glory of such incredible natural wonders – in the same way I think those who fought so hard to preserve them did – the thought of trying to have that experience in such a crazy, people filled, “theme park” like atmosphere literally makes me sick to my stomach. But in the end, I guess that’s no different than all the other wonderful experiences I’d love to have but never will because I simply can’t afford to do so in the manner such reverence deserves.

But I am thankful for both television and the internet, where I can witness such wonders in the privacy of my own home. I could spend many hours on that The National Parks: America’s Best Idea website alone! I’m also thankful for being able to blog about the things that move me in the way that series has… Not to mention blogging a couple of the great songs from last night’s show, as well as a couple more the show reminded me…

Al Petteway & Amy White – “Sligo Creek”

Ron Sexsmith – “Sneak Out the Back Door”

Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Simple Man”

The Allman Brothers Band – “Jessica”

Who will provide the grand design? What is yours and what is mine?
‘Cause there is no more new frontier. We have got to make it here.

We satisfy our endless needs, and justify our bloody deeds,
In the name of destiny, and the name of God.

And you can see them there, on Sunday morning.
They stand up and sing about, what it’s like up there.
They call it Paradise, I don’t know why.
You call someplace Paradise,
Kiss it goodbye…

~ The Eagles: “The Last Resort”

I want ice water.

See more of my Random Ravings

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4 thoughts on “I Know It When I See It

  1. I missed another episode!? Damn.
    I know exactly what you’re talking about, wanting to experience some of those places without anyone else being around. When I’m up in Rocky Mtn Natl Park, I want to be totally immersed in my surroundings — and I silently curse the other tourists (even though I’m one myself) for being there and spoiling what should be my grand solitary experience. I’ve wished since childhood that I could build a fence around one of those mountains so that I could keep it all for myself and not let anyone else spoil my enjoyment of it. I’ve even cursed jets leaving contrails high overhead, because they were the only sign of other human beings in what would have been my solitary wilderness experience.


    • Don’t feel bad PT, I’ve only managed to catch two of the six episodes myself. When I accidentally ran across “The Last Refuge” episode the other night, I mistakenly assumed that was all their was to it! 😳

      Sometimes I have to give myself a big old “Gibbs-slap” for not being more comfortable out in the world on my own. Hell, it’s hard enough going out with others. But the idea of traveling a long distance to see something that means so much to me with the people that I know Sorry, you know I’m not religious, but I think I’d end up feeling like I invited a bunch of devil worshipers to accompany me to church! 😯


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