Joy to the World

Cathedral choir stalls

I will never be able to resolve my unshakable disbelief in Christian dogma with the profound peace I find singing sacred classical music in an ancient English church with a good choir.

I sang yesterday at the Christmas service at our local church, sitting up in the beautiful Victorian choir stalls, next to one of the regular members of the wonderful permanent choir. Having sung themselves out during advent, the organist had called for help as the regular choir (or most of them) took the day off.

Needless to say I struggled with aspects of the service, in particular the awful passing of the peace, and as usual did not take part in the wine and biscuit binge.

And yet I could not help myself being moved by the sermon, beautifully constructed if rather gratingly delivered in a rasping American accent.

It was about feeling the numinous, and was expressed by comparison to feeling a baby’s hand, vaguely and mysteriously, through the walls of a mothers womb.

It was a simile I took to. There is a wonder in the world and nowhere do I feel that more strongly than in an ancient church, however crappy I find the bizarre belief system.

That there is goodness in the world is never easier to believe than on Christmas day when I am far from thoughts of money (or rather of running out of it) and even further from words like “competition” and “business”.

I can’t help it if I don’t believe in the birth on earth of the son of god, however beautiful the advent story. I can’t help it if my belief aligns more with the Taoists than the Christians.

The truly wise know that the same witness to the divine can be felt as easily by the Buddhist as by the Taoist or the Muslim.

The tragedy is that so many feel the need to push their bigoted, narrow and doubtless erroneous views as to what they believe is truly out there.

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