Sep 14, 2020

This is Roald 

Tweet on Rock Island.

Ever wonder what it must have been like to live in Old Testament times and have one of those prophets next door watching your every move?

We Rock Islanders know how that feels. Even those who don't go to church turn to page two of the Quad-City Times each morning over coffee to read Bill Wundram before deciding on the proper mood for the day. Will it be sack cloth and ashes, or a day for rejoicing?

Calling himself a newspaper columnist fools no one. We've already heard that tone of voice before in the Bible, pronouncing a blessing here, a judgment there, calling the Davenport City council or the school board to repentance for their sillinesses and sins.

Like all newspaper columnists at their best, and like the prophets before them, Bill Wundram is the keeper of those stories that define the character and culture of any community—stories that remind us who we were and are: stories of our heroes and villains, our wanderings and settlings, our land, our defeats and victories, our hopes and fears. Stories that entertain, remind, guide.

Does an offensive billboard appear in town? Wundram recalls us to our moral duty, and the billboard comes down. Do the people turn to worship a golden calf (let's say, riverboat gambling)? Wundram shames us. Is there an unsung heroine? Her story is told. Has a homeless person frozen to death? His obituary appears here.

At crisis moments when we have lost our way in the Wilderness, even the language of Wundram's column turns biblical. "Is anyone out there, does anyone care?" Bill cries as he chronicles our indifference to cruelty and suffering in our streets.

Columnist Wundram may not rank up there with the major leaguers, Joshua or Samuel, he may not have brought new commandments down from up on the bluffs, but I have no doubt he could hold his own among the minor prophets: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and the other nine you remember if you every memorized all the books of the Bible back in Sunday school.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.