Wrestling with Orphans in the Skagit Valley

On this summer’s book tour/family road trip to the Pacific Northwest, Jason spent some time at a family farm in the scenic Skagit Valley. While there, our hosts Drs. David and Jenny Benson organized what has got to be one of the best book parties in recorded history.

The festivities included a jam session by David and his old band; grilled oysters from the nearby Puget Sound; and a delicious Frogmore Stew (aka Low Country Boil) prepared by Liz and Ben Fischer, our friends from North Carolina.

After the feast, Jason spoke a bit about Chasing Aphrodite, then opened the floor for a lively discussion about the problem of the so-called “orphans,” archaeological objects that have been looted and now — thanks to reforms in museum collecting practices — have no home.

The two dozen or so guests — who ranged from farmers and doctors to teachers and artists and film makers — had lots of ideas for solutions to a problem that has perplexed a generation of art world leaders.

Why not make an international museum for these objects? Perhaps a traveling exhibition that tours around the world? Could they be distributed to museums with lesser collections? Ray Bakke, the distinguished author and theologian, spoke eloquently about his insights from years of inter-faith dialogue around the globe.

In these dog days of summer, that lovely afternoon in the Skagit Valley is stuck in our minds. Our thanks to the Bensons for hosting the wonderful event. We’ll be sharing some of these insights as we continue our book tour in the fall with several stops on the East Coast.

Meantime, what do you think should be done with the “orphans”?

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