I love biking around a new city. I’m in Austin, a city well known for its biking culture, thanks partly to its favorite son, Lance Armstrong. It’s a little odd to me that so many folks would choose to bike here. There are so many hills, it’s so hot, the traffic is terrible. But people do it. After a day spent driving around in traffic, I borrowed S.’s bicycle and tooled around east Austin and over to the state capitol. Hills are completely foreign territory to me, so I found myself a little scared every time I was coasting down. As my father always says, sort of, what goes down, must go up. But this is where gears come in handy, and I used them. When I got over to the capitol, though, I just got to zip around, and it was beautiful. The lawns were green, the flowers bright, the architecture beautiful. And then there were all the things that surprised me, sort of. Like the statue erected in 1909 commemorating the soldiers of the Confederate States of America, featuring quotations from Jefferson Davis. Right–this is the South still. On the other side of the capitol I snapped a photo of this slab, gifted by the Boy Scouts of America, of the Ten Commandments. I get confused sometimes about the separation of church and state. I thought this sort of thing couldn’t be on state property. When S. and I visited the capitol in Baton Rouge last month, the House session opened with a long prayer, including a prayer for “the preborn.” It doesn’t take long when you’re visiting one of these places to realize the obvious: we live in a Christian country, even as we sometimes imagine we live in a secular state. I wish we’d be more honest about this so we could revisit that whole separation of church and state thing and see if we might sharpen it a bit.