Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Preaching To The Choir

My father, before his breakdown, marched around the farm in angry conversation with his own father, who wasn't there. He was getting the words worked out just right. The logic of his positions became unassailable, although their relevance was only to him.

Similarly and more sanely, our president likes to hang around with people who make him feel good. He speaks to people who approve of his wisdom and don't question his thought processes. People who give him a sense of his innate, unassailable, relevance.

When you're running on faith, doubt is an enemy, so you preach to the choir.

The National Rifle Association, herder of cowboys, preaches to their choir. Union leaders preach to their choirs. Professionally grumpy newscasters preach to their over-70 demographic. New Age politicos preach to those who sing along in perfect harmony.

If only all the choirs could sing together...

Some years ago, in a city by a bay far away, I was pleased to find myself riding upwards in an elevator with philosopher Alan Watts, who was to give a presentation. Mr. Watts pulled out a Pierogi, a particularly stinky little cigar, and lit up. We all knew that something more than usual was happening. We were breathing the air Alan Watts exhaled, and he was making a point of it.

Later, in the auditorium, he invited us all to make that sound that is most natural to us, and he began to laugh and shout and chant. Liberated to be whatever we were, we did the same, and the sound was cacaphonic for some time. But it slowly settled into a single sound, a drone. Individual voices could be heard, but they were incidental, contrapuntal, accessories to the drone. Within the accoustic confines of the auditorium, we had found its resonating frequency.

One choir.

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