Taking Back What We’ve Lost

Earlier today, I attended the Thanksgiving service at the Hot Springs Unitarian Universalist Church, along with my wife. Usually, we do not attend on Sunday when the “church service” is on the schedule. Instead, we attend when “insight” programs (interesting explorations of ideas, typically delivered by someone who’s knowledgeable in the subject under discussion) are scheduled. The services resemble church too much for me; I think my wife feels the same. But, today, because we wanted to support the organization for its annual Thanksgiving program, we decided to attend. My wife made a green bean casserole for the lunch that followed the service.

As we expected, the service reminded me of the unease I felt as a child when I attended church. But there were some interesting elements that made me glad we attended.  For one, the minister read (as a poem) the lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s Anthem, a piece of music I have loved since the first time I heard it (though I must say I think it’s much better and more moving as music, than as poetry). Another reason I was glad we attended was that the service addressed the angst most of the people I know feel at this moment, after the horrifying surprise of Trump’s election. Something the minister said resonated with me; he suggested the members of the congregation should acknowledge and share their vulnerabilities in connection with the election with their friends and neighbors. That, he suggested, could begin the process of enabling us to take hold of the powers we have to connect with others and, ultimately, regain our power to control our own destinies. At least that’s my take on his message. I’m not the guy’s greatest fan by a significant margin, but a few of his comments today rang true. That notwithstanding, I wish he would retreat from his heavy investment in Christianity and magic. But I may be alone in that desire, and it’s not my church after all, so I’ll shut up for now.

Here is Leonard Cohen singing Anthem. His lyrics and his delivery bring tears to my eyes. I hope this video remain available so people visiting this post can see and hear it. I already I miss his gravel voice. He died just a few days ago. The world is lesser for it.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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