This was the synthesis I finally arrived at after much struggle: I would never again deny the substantial possibility that my faith was completely in vain – and that, if so, there could be little reliable basis for an equanimity based on faith or on anything else. On the other hand I would keep on going to church, holding fast to my perception that some things, like human decency and the existence of existence, still seemed more plausibly explained in a universe with a God in it than in one without. My certainties were gone, but I had at least decided on my course. Big questions. I always look to art to help me tackle big questions. This time was no different.
Archive for the ‘Theme Songs’ Category
And now my mother was not there. So what did that mean? Had she and our relationship just faded out of sight, as Cole Porter so aptly phrases it? Up until that very point, I would have answered that the relationship was still there, and that, even though I could no longer see her, we were still connected. That, in fact, our relationship would be fully restored one day in an afterlife. But I could not feel it. Not this time; I’d felt it somehow when I lost my father and when I lost my stepfather. With Mother there was no sense of assurance, none of continuity. And I was feeling exactly as the lover in Porter’s song dreaded to feel: left “in the chill still of the night.”
Sideways chimed with my updated Dantean thinking. Clearly, if there was a God at the helm of the universe, He was a devious Bastard. All the bad things there were, all the pain and sickness and terror, all the death, somehow – or so my faith urged me to believe – were unimaginably transfigured into agencies of providential good. And I believed they were.
Somewhere along the line, maybe while I was uncharacteristically unwinding in the baths with my son, it came to me not merely that I was happy, but that everything around me seemed wondrous. The way the winter sunlight cut through the denuded trees and blinked upon our car seemed a revelation – of what I cannot say, but maybe that’s merely because words are lacking, not because nothing was revealed.
The song that spoke most to me in my isolation was Caruso, Lucio Dalla’s song. I couldn’t translate Italian to any great extent, but I got the gist: the opera singer, alone on the water, with his regrets. I didn’t have that many regrets at that point, and those I had far fewer and less painful than some of my contemporaries were racking up. Still, in my isolation and subject to the incessant responsibilities of the trial, the gloomy melodrama of that song and indeed the whole album, were just the thing.
We must have surrendered emotionally to Herman Wouk’s old-fashioned attitudes about war, whatever our intellectual take The Winds of War. How could we not, when the faces of the great leaders were presented to us at the outset of every episode, peering out of the giant letters of the title, set against a background of roiling clouds, while Robert Cobert’s majestic Love Theme rolled in the background and the opening titles rolled with it?
What I’d learned from experience was to tell myself things like nobody’s dying as I confronted whatever lesser crisis I encountered. The trouble was, on this occasion, I was pretty sure somebody I did not want to lose was dying.
In a modest and untrained way, I was evolving a theology of escape and renewal, if you will. I still believed in building lasting things – sometimes. But sometimes, I thought, you needed to leave off, and leave. It wasn’t contrary to God’s plan; it was God’s plan. And I wanted to share my point of view.
I reflected that Moses could never have had a business plan when he left Egypt either. You had to be crazy enough to count on some parted seas and columns of fire and manna and burning bushes and water flowing out of rocks. As a wiser Jiminy Cricket might have said, Always let your anger be your guide.
Our one-year-old son Matthew had a “language tape,” a VHS video transcription of the first three Muppet movies that I had made in the previous decade for his older brother and sister during a Muppet marathon on old Channel 45. It was complete with commercials and station breaks and really, really bad video, but it was perfect for Matt.