Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Body Shadows

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Body Shadows

Article excerpt

Once upon a time the Chairman ordered the complete destruction of the "Four Pests" plaguing China: bedbugs, roaches, rats, and sparrows. Bourgeois birds, he called the sparrows. Sparrows stole the seed the farmers sowed and compromised the harvests. So, throughout the country, loyal citizens would gather under trees and eaves where sparrows nested and make such an awful racketbanging pots and pans together, lighting reels of firecrackers, singing patriotic thttiesthat the sparrows fled in terror.

When the frightened birds alighted on a nearby branch the loyal citizens went chasing after, banging pots and pans together, lighting reels of firecrackers, singing patriotic thtties till at last the bourgeois sparrows who had ruined recent harvests dropped from sheer exhaustion, many dead before they even landed. …

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