Monday, June 13, 2016

When The Situation Calls for Marian Anderson....

I tell her, she who is not here, that the world doesn’t need to hear from me today.

“Well, I wrote about it,” said Lady, “so you should too.”

“There will come a time,” I told her, “when people won’t know what that unspecified ‘it’ is. But today, all anyone can think about is the killing of 50 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Anyway, when ‘it’ no longer ceases to be ‘it’ then I’ll write about it. Or ‘it…’ Anyway, nobody particularly cares…”

“Well, I care,” said Lady. “So what do you think?”

“Hard to know,” I tell her, ‘though my first thought, frankly, was ‘ah, the religion of peace strikes again!’ Is that fair? No, of course not. Did the fact that Westboro Church all but lit off fireworks to celebrate the event mean that all Christians hate gay people? Of course not. In fact, there was a vigil held at a mosque in Orlando last night. And some sheik or imam or somebody-or-other came out and denounced the attack. But then again, two months ago, Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a Sharia ‘scholar’ was in Orlando, and he comes right out and says it. Couldn’t be clearer—gays must die. So what are we supposed to think? Oh, and Sekaleshfar, to be fair, put out on his website condolences, as well as made this statement:”

The killing of innocent life is never justified by religion,' he said. 

The perpetrator of this shooting has directly violated this holy commandment and displayed a complete disregard for the sanctity of human life and divine values.

“So I ran over to YouTube, and there he is, coolly saying that ‘we have to get rid of them.’ Oh, and according to the info on the YouTube clip below, he also said:”

Death is the sentence. We know there’s nothing to be embarrassed about this, death is the sentence...We have to have that compassion for people, with homosexuals, it's the same, out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”

“Anyway, he certainly knows how to use both side of his mouth,” I told her. “But he actually worries me less than the fact that the ‘Interfaith Council of Central Florida’ got the guy in to speak, and then issued this smarmy statement when they got called on it:”

These issues around homosexuality and the decrying of it or denouncing of it by religion takes away, often, from our really important task of helping our community to be a better community...and wishes congregations would focus more on helping the homeless, poor , and abused instead of persecuting a group that can take care of itself.

“In other words, homosexuality is a side issue, and then he throws in that assumption that we can ‘take care of ourselves.’ Well, I wish it were true. But there’s something a little complicit in the Muslim community: too many of them let a sizable wacko component spout off, and then when something outrageous happens, they give us the ‘Islam is love’ line. ”

“Anyway, it’s a disaster,” I continued, “because guess who benefits? Donald Trump, since he’ll play the fear factor up, and say that he’ll make America safe—as well as great—again! So that’s another disaster….”


“And of course, there’s the other disaster of knowing that Americans have the constitutional right—supposedly—to buy and carry assault rifles, and that any lunatic can do so. So even though the guy was an abuser—according to his wife—he still got a gun. Oh, and his co-workers knew that he was nutso, so much that they contacted the authorities. And just like the Boston bomber, he was on the screen but off. So that has to be the fourth or fifth disaster….”

“Oh, dear….”


“You know, if enough of the Muslim world could do what Irshad Manji did and does, I’d buy into the ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ stuff.”

“Irshad Manji?”

“Canadian woman who wrote a book called The Trouble with Islam Today. Anyway, today isn’t really a day to think, or to analyze. It’s mostly about getting up and getting on, which is why I flew Marian Anderson in….”

“The contralto? The lady at the Lincoln Memorial?”

“The very same,” I told her, “because when things really get bad, the only way out is Anderson. And the Alto Rhapsody, of course…”


“Yup, and quite specific and to the point, here. It’s a prayer for a soul lost in the wilderness to find spiritual comfort. And oddly, I always think it’s a prayer for the victimizer, not the victim. It is, in fact, the only way I can pray for the soul of the 19 hijackers on September 11. Or for Mateen…. Because what nobody talks about is the intense isolation of these killers. Their society, and ours, has failed them. They’re drifting around, unmoored, and then this fanatic ‘religion’ snags them, and the only way for their life to have ‘meaning’ is to commit atrocities in the name of Jesus or Allah or whoever. Then, of course, we say that ‘they are filled with evil.’ But that’s crazy: they’re not filled with anything. At least at the beginning. So the Alto Rhapsody always does the trick….”

“But why?”

“Because what is wearisome about all of this is the narrative we tell ourselves. ‘It was a senseless act,’ we say, but is that really true? Of course, it doesn’t make sense to us, but then, getting down and bowing to Mecca five times a day doesn’t make sense, either. To us, at least. But the terrible think is that the tragedy does make sense, if you take the Koran literally. I mean, it’s there, as it is in the Bible. But if you believe literally, well the act makes sense….”

“Are you condoning the attack?”

“Absolutely not. But not thinking clearly about our narrative doesn’t help us….”

“And thinking clearly does?”

“Who knows? But I think it’s our only way out….”

“Right! So on with the Brahms!”

“OK, but to really get this work, you gotta follow the lyrics….”


“Just do it. You’ll see why.”

She did, and she did!