His

By Chet Raymo '58, '64Ph.D.

Our family home in Chattanooga was built in 1941, and like most other homes in the city was heated by coal. It had a coal bin in the basement, and a big galvanized furnace with cast-iron doors and grates and air ducts sprouting from the top like the hair of Medusa. Keeping it going during the winter required a lot of shoveling and riddling and hauling ashes. If the darn thing went out, getting it started again was a chore. All this my father bore with about as much grace as you could expect of a young man with a new house and a growing family.…

Read More

The Eye of the Beholder

By Chet Raymo '58, '64Ph.D.

Edward O. Wilson and Wendell Berry are unlikely opponents in the cultural war. Both men have roots in rural America. Both men are motivated by a love of nature. Both men are prolific writers whose work is represented almost side by side in the The Norton Book of Nature Writing. Both men see environmental catastrophe in the offing if humans continue their wanton ways. Both men champion conservation and biodiversity.…

Read More

The Genetics of Belief

By Chet Raymo '58, '64Ph.D.

An itch for God seems to be universal. In the course of history, humans have invented tens of thousands of religions, many of which are assumed by their adherents to be the divinely revealed true faith. Atheism has always been something of an anomaly, and even the word “atheism” has God lurking within it.…

Read More

Freedom: A Bird That Burns Like a Luminous Flame

By Chet Raymo '58, '64Ph.D.

All afternoon I have been watching a pair of hummingbirds play about our porch. They live somewhere nearby, though I haven’t found their nest. They are attracted to our hummingbird feeder, which we keep full of sugar water.

What perfect little machines they are! No other bird can perform their tricks of flight—flying backward, hovering in place. Zip. Zip. From perch to perch in a blur of iridescence.…

Read More