About: Kevin Vailes
Writer | Photographer
Kevin Vailes teaches whatever they ask him at the Augustine School in Jackson, though if he had his choice he would spend his time ruminating on the intricate complexities of the classical world and trying to get his Latin students to study their vocabulary. Kevin grew up in and around Jackson and went to Union University where he met his best friend and wife Elizabeth. They live in the Jackson’s historic LANA neighborhood in a 100+ year-old bungalow with their five children. He believes that stories are what bind us together and cause us to love and care for something, and he hopes that in sharing Jackson’s stories with you, you will fall in love with Jackson and care about it too.
Check out Kevin's latest contributions to Our Jackson Home:
Why do we create monuments to the past? What is it about physical reminders—be they statues or plaques—that move us? Why do we feel the need to travel to the places of great historical events and walk the same ground? I am struck by the words of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the hero of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg: “In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays.”
Great art is meant to be experienced. It is not enough to see a picture of a painting by Delacroix or Jacques-Louis David in an art history book. You must tramp across the wide corridors of the Louvre and encounter them in all the massive, unbelievable glory and beauty; anything else is only a poor substitute. This sort of artistic experience is a great blessing, and it explains why so many people continue to visit the great museums of the world.
What will a person not do because of love? With love, the seemingly absurd and impossible becomes logical and likely. Love is what drives us to actions and accomplishments, from the noblest and greatest to ordinary and poignant. To paraphrase the famous early twentieth century English author G.K. Chesterton, something becomes great or beautiful or indeed lovely because we love it. Not because it was great, beautiful, or lovely before we came. This is because love is transformative.
Eating is an incredibly sacramental act. In fact a feast, regularly celebrated, is one of the universally recognized rites of the Christian Church. It can be a reminder of our lack of complete self-sufficiency. We need things outside ourselves in order to survive even on the most basic of levels. The sacred is also something that is meant to be experienced with other people. Meals are often communal, and I would argue that the best meals are always shared experiences. No matter how good the food is it is always better shared with other people
We have a propensity to glorify revolution. We want to label things as revolutions whether they are revolutionary or not. Perhaps this is because we view ourselves as the by-products of a revolution. We love to celebrate rebels who overthrow and overturn the felt tyranny of the old existing order. This is right and good to a certain point, but revolution has a dark side, too. It is rare however that we pause to reflect on the negative consequences of revolution.
In 1998, one of the most respected scholars in the world made a profound decision. It was a decision that seemed at odds with much of what had previously happened in his life. Jaroslav Pelikan was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1923 to devout Lutheran parents. His father was a Lutheran pastor and his grandfather a bishop in the Lutheran Church. By the age of twenty-two he had completed both a seminary degree from Concordia Lutheran Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
One of the most perplexing and discouraging realities the modern world confronts us with is a disconnection from our past and the past in general. We are separated from the first European settlers of West Tennessee by just less than 200 years, but we have less in common with those ancestors than they themselves would have had with the Ancient Greeks or Romans. Time is a relative construction in this sense, just like it is in physics.
Merry Christmas, Jackson! For those of you who don't know, December 25 also marks our one-year anniversary from launching www.ourjacksonhome.com. In celebration of all the fun we've had this year, we present you with a little Christmas gift from us—an Our Jackson Home 2016 Desktop Calendar! Enjoy a little taste of Jackson each month while you work, featuring photography from stories we've run in 2015. Just save these photos to your computer and use them as you will.
Gravity, the force that an object exerts on those things around it, is directly proportional to its mass. This is basic physics and one of the most basic principles that shape our physical world. It is the reason why our world is the way it is, but there are other types of gravity beyond a physical force pulling us constantly toward the center of the earth.
The greater the idea the more beautiful the building—a statement that should be true, and is true in an abstract sense. The most beautiful manmade space I have ever entered is also one inspired by what I consider to be the greatest idea.
Buildings, like last time with the Greyhound Station, are the expression of ideas that find a place in the imagination or consciousness of a culture. American and European culture in the early decades of the twentieth century were fascinated by the concept of speed. In the lifespan of the of a single person men went from moving at the speed of a horse to being able to leap over oceans in the space of hours.
Buildings matter. This is a concept that is foreign to us now. As anyone who spends more than a few minutes driving around our city can easily attest to, the vast majority of the buildings (houses, stores, banks, even—I cringe as I write this last one—churches) look like they have come out of some factory where they are mass produced on an assembly line. Buildings used to mean something. There was some idea, value, universal concept that held the building together and directed its growth and form.
Communities need focal points to survive and to grow: locally run and owned businesses that are unique to the community and that provide an individual flavor and feel to a city. These local points are necessary for the community to continue to provide the multitude of functions that we expect from them and need from them to feel connected and to live full and healthy lives inside that community.
The connection between agriculture and West Tennessee is as old as the last ice age. When the glaciers retreated and the sea whose northern reaches brushed the southern edge of our state dried, what remained in the land between two of the great rivers of our nation was a fertile alluvial plain that stretches from the line of hills bordering the Tennessee River all the way to the Mississippi River.