Acids of modernity (as Walter Lippmann used to call it) have eroded old ways, old loyalties, old truths, and some of these changes are more momentous than others.
Popcorn, for example, is exploding in England, where (the Popcorn Institute of Chicago fervently hopes) it will soon replace fish and chips as the junk food of choice. Not that popcorn is a junk food. I regard it as one of the three cornerstones of American citizenship, and a deal better for the gizzard than a lot of fried fat. All the same, the advance of popcorn in Britain is an example not merely of the hooks that grapple us to our lime-saturated cousins but also of immemorial customs toppling.
You may also have noticed that winds of change are blowing strongly through the Roman Catholic Church, which has dropped the canon law that forbade priests to ride to hounds. Here, however, we do not have anything so plain as the advance of popcorn in England, but rather a plethora of knotty questions:
We should not assume that the dropping of this old restriction means that now the priests will be thick as persimmons all around Middleburg, since there may be other rules that cover fox hunting by the Roman clergy..
There is more than meets the eye. Not all hounds, to begin with, like to hunt foxes. I well recall old Sovereign, a superb hound who at field trials in Virginia kept tooling off to explore a creek instead of circling about in full cry. There is also the matter of the fox, and of blood sports in general.
You must consider the ramifications are far wider than Monsignor O'Toole's suddenly being freed for a day of wholesome exercise in the country. Does the lifting of this restriction indicate--God forbid--a lessening concern for the value of life? Or does it portend a rapprochement with the Anglican Church, which is widely known to be pretty pliant about dogma, but quite rigid about the semidivine status of horses, hounds and foxes? Surely before such precipitous changes go into effect there might at least be a couple of international commissions exploring the consequences.
Then there is that radical new program going on down at Davidson College in North Carolina (Zubin Mehta agreed to a benefit concert down there to help raise money for it) in which you can study at Davidson and get a scholarship also to study music anywhere you like. It is believed this is a rare instance of a college's paying you to study somewhere else. (I think this might catch on).
Closer home, we see the winds of change in the telephone system. Things will not be as they were. And while I suppose, on general principles, that Ma Bell may have kicked up her heels in some unseemly way once or twice, still I have always regarded her as a splendid old dame. I am not sure I like tampering with one of the things that actually work, such as the phone system (and as distinct from automobiles, buses, shoes, etc.).
Of course you know the world is always falling upside down; always did and always will. And we have all learned that change is not to be feared, always. Certainly I am far from saying it ought not be permitted. But I do think we should be told.