Monday, January 12, 2009

The Atheist and the Rabbi.

He is still in the Angry Stage.

He is bright, hilarious, compassionate, caring, joyful, and a total mensch who takes care of the people around him. He's the guy you go to when no one else will help. (He's paid a high price for this, by the way. Sometimes when you "help" people, and it doesn't fix things, they blame you. )

But he's really angry. He is not just an atheist. He is what some in the blurbosphere call the Angry Atheist, and he'll admit it. He'll say the words calmly, "I am an Angry Atheist." He will tell you a story about his synagogue. He was quoting Dawkins and made references to Hitchens. (I've read Dawkins' The God Delusion).

I love this man with all my heart. I also love his wife, who is bright, educated, intellectual, and giggly. They have become family to us.

I played him the rehearsal footage video of "Holy Dirt" and watched his reaction. (I did not tape his reaction because Real Life Happens Off-Camera. I did not want a performance.)

It made him laugh. In fact, he laughed out loud. Then he became serious and it led to a long discussion about morality and religion.

But, ultimately, he saw the song as an indictment of religion (not his words, but close).

The Rabbi is equally an intelligent man. He is funny, liberal, quick-witted and very serious about his religion, about being Jewish. We have become friends over the years.

(He told me he had attended the Christian holy services this year out of respect. So, I attended one night of the Hannukkah celebration out of respect to him. I smelled the spices -- complete with a very volunteer-oriented pair of brothers -- watched two women light the 6th candle, sang in Hebrew -- which I pronounce like Spanish -- and then ate fried food. That's the part I liked. Reminded me of Baptist dinner on the ground.)

I asked him if I could play the "Holy Dirt" video for him. I did not tell him that I had played it for the Angry Atheist. (They know each other.)

He said, "Hm. Holy Dirt. I don't know. I don't want to see something cynical."

"No, no!" I said. "I'm not cynical." (And I'm not. I have been cynical, so I know cynical. I'm not cynical.)

He watched it. His friendly, chatty wife sat next to him as he intently watched.

I also did not tape this. (RLHO-C).

He sat for a moment and said, "Very powerful. You went right to the edge. No, I think this is a very strong spiritual message."

So, the atheist and the rabbi saw the song as speaking truth. As, in fact, a statement of their beliefs. But aren't we being told that there's a war on and that people have to choose up sides?
(On a discussion board I inhabit, someone mentioned the book "Life of Pi." My favorite scene in that book is early on when all the ministers of each respective faith realize, to their sputtering, spewing horror, that Pi has joined up with all of them, Hindu, Muslim and Christian.)
I will re-post that rehearsal video of "Holy Dirt" here, but remember the sound on this is terrible. It's just my camera sound.

So, order "Creating Harmony" CD and hear the real sound. I haven't even heard it yet and it's KILLING ME. Maybe we should schedule a mutual listening party of some kind.


Nancy P said...

Hi Steve...great story. I know the Rabbi and his lovely wife and I know you had a great time with them on your vacation. Was the Atheist also cruising with you?


Steve Schalchlin said...

Yes. The atheist was traveling with us, too.