Sunday, November 27, 2016


I haven't posted here for quite a while, but a few things caught my notice recently.  Three things to be more precise, and all three contain elements of irony. One involves a new movie; one a poet who has just died; the third my father.

First, the movie: Silence - a movie by Martin Scorsese

The irony was pointed out in a post by the ultra Catholic Regina Magazine as Martin Scorsese is a lapsed Catholic. I didn't find this surprising as I am not surprised that even those who reject their childhood faith retain it somewhere in their conscious  or unconscious minds. I am always reminded of the probably apocryphal story of the emperor Constantine waiting until he was on his deathbed to convert to Christianity fully. I have had my own struggles with faith throughout my adult life so am less inclined to throw the first or even the eighteenth stone than those comfortable in their beliefs.

Second: Leonard Cohen. He was raised Jewish and his songs and poetry often contained religious references, sometimes Jewish, sometimes Christian and sometimes Buddhist. He did spend years in a Zen monastery living as a monk and learning from a Zen master. Yet he enjoyed the full sexual fruits of the successful troubadour if legend be true. I cam across this 'homily' by the Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who analyzes Leonard Cohen's last recording and one track especially. Leonard Cohen the man of the world, first famous and envied for his sojourn on a Greek island with a beautiful woman, ending his life returning in song to the faith of his ancestors?  Irony? No, like Martin Scorsese, perhaps one cannot deny that silent still place deep inside.

Third: my father.  My father was born a Canadian Methodist, then when that church became the main component of the new United Church of Canada, he belonged there. Around about 1960 he switched to the Anglican Church of Canada, spurred on by the local Anglican priest knocking on our door one day doing a little evangelizing (yes, on rare occasions even Anglicans attempt to convert people). As I liked to tease my Dad, the proximate cause was the local United Church minister passing the temperance pledge around the congregation one Sunday. My Dad fumed over that, ranting that no minister was going to tell him he couldn't drink his Labatt's IPA while watching the CFL in the Fall. Later in the 1970s and on, my Dad fell away from church attendance, leaving my mother to go alone. He had all the memes and shallow arguments atheists hold dear for his drifting away, until that is, he came to his final illness. Although he had lost much of his ability to make sense, when the Anglican lay ministers arrived at his nursing home, suddenly his mind sprang to life again and he knew all the responses to Anglican Holy Communion and took Communion every Sunday until he died.

Irony?  Well I don't know, though I suspect not. Rather these three stories are typically human. We humans struggle in life and that includes struggling with faith. Even the archpriest of atheism, Richard Dawkins said once he is only 6/7 convinced there is no God. Faith, and no faith,  like life, is struggle. I, for one, do not hold myself above those who are certain and those who are not, as I am also a fellow struggler, without irony.

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