Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Unreadable Book

In my local choir (not a church-choir)  we are singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream" from "The Man of La Mancha."

I had not heard this song in a long time, and I quite enjoy it.  Here is a good performance of it. The last time I heard it, I believe was at a Lutheran Marriage encounter retreat, we attended when we were first married.  Now, thirty years later, I can't say that this was a song that accompanied us and helped us quest for a wonderful marriage.  Nor have I read Don Quixote, yet.  But thirty eventful years have elapsed and what has held our marriage together through all trials and our hearts and minds comparatively sane,  has been our commitment to a Biblical faith and the grace we know personally in the person of Jesus Christ.  I would not wish to attempt life and marriage without it.  At times, when we have been completely drained, and through the death of Stefan we were both completely drained at the same time (there is a difference when only one is suffering and the other can help him up, and a time when both are crushed), there has only been the center of the word that could hold.  I don't know how else you could proceed.

Some people live by poetry, like perhaps this song.  Hope against hope.  Strive just to strive...  Keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, but where to?  Where are you going?  What's the point?

But something compelled me to write a short parody of the song, yesterday.

For some lengthy time, a book was out from the library, which I had tried hard to read but failed to comprehend.  "Postmodernism and the Revolution in Religious Theory.  Toward the Semiotics of the Event."

We see that there are no reviews on Amazon, at this date, and even the description falls short, mentioning mostly how brilliant the whole thing is but nothing in particular.  Really, it truly did seem brilliant to me, too.  Absolutely, the whole thing was brilliant.  That man knows what he is talking about, no doubt.  I just can't figure it out. I had no idea what any particular paragraph meant.

If I were a reluctant reader I would worry about my competence as a reader.  If I understood nothing at all about religion, I would worry about my baseline knowledge.  If I had not encountered free spirits and dialecticians and English professors, I would worry about my narrow field of vision.   I do have to admit I was not familiar with the writers he kept referring to and alluding to.  So, I guess, I was out of my depth.

But are books like this written for such a narrow audience, those thoroughly steeped in the theories about post-modernism?  How can one write a book about post-modernism that makes no sense to the average person, even the above average reader?

When I returned the book to the library, I encountered a professor, and I asked him what "toward the semiotics of the event" means.  He said that semiotics is about the symbol and that in post-modernism everyone interacts with the text in their own individual way.   I wish now that I understood what the writer of the book really wanted to say with pairing this with the "event".

Anyhow, on the same day, it was mentioned to me that there are United Church people who are looking for a music workshop that helps them find music for the United Church.  It is assumed that means music that does not mention God, or at least as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and other stipulations.  Probably "wretch" is out, too, as in Amazing Grace, and who knows what else, du jour.  I would hate to be their music director, too.  How can you fail to offend all the different and changing sensitivities?  There must be no way to be sure to be always offending when you are trying so hard to offend no one.  The problem reminded me of the "Gospel" choir workshop I attended with a beautiful big black woman singer.  It was a fascinating workshop and the art was breathtaking, but there was no "Gospel" in it.  I mentioned this issue to someone and she nearly slugged me.

Same day, mention was made that a spiritual counselor was teaching prayer "techniques", such as Mandala, etc. and whether such a person should be invited to speak.  The idea was not rejected out of hand and I suggested that we go for lunch with the individual.

All that put together from the "Dream the Impossible Dream" to the book on post-modernism, to the singing that sings to who-must-not-be named, to the prayer that is technique... resulted in this little verse below.  It is sung to the tune of "To Dream the Impossible Dream".  I have penned it.  I think it is brilliant.  If you would like to use it, let me know.  :)  Yours, truly.

To READ, the unreadable book!
To PRAISE, the unmentionable god!
To UNDERSTAND, the unintelligible symbol!
To FIGHT, where there is nothing to gain!

Just for myself,
to follow this star,
no matter how hopeless,
no matter how false...

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