Wednesday, March 29, 2023

There are no atheists in the ranks

Australian musician and poet Nick Cave, 65, was a choirboy in a Catholic cathedral and spent his whole life in a fierce struggle between skepticism and faith. At the edge of the sixth decade of existence, the worst blow that can happen to you is the loss of a child; in these two The first to die was 15-year-old Arthur, who jumped off a Brighton cliff high on LSD. His 31-year-old son Jethro later died. The devastation of those losses brought Nick Cave to the Christian practice of childhood. He says that he returned to the Church. He explains that the words “prayer, grace, devotion and grace”, “inconvenience to many”, are finally “the heart of all”. Cave concludes, “It is good for you to believe.”

This 21st century epiphany left us with two musicians who worked until their last breath, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. The Canadian artist had as his maternal grandfather a Talmudic sage, the Lithuanian rabbi Salomon Klonitsky-Kline. Religion is inseparable from the life of that writer-lover, who never spoke of good wine, a beautiful woman, a round verse, or a witty joke. “I had a pretty messianic childhood,” he joked. In his spiritual exploration, Cohen also spent half a decade as a student of a pudgy Japanese master in a temple published in a Californian mountain. When he came down from the loft, he found that he had run away from his computer. He was almost eighty years old when he made his way to replenish his bank account. Leonard released his last album, now dying and with severe bone pain, in his suburban Los Angeles apartment. He remains calm and accepting of his farewell: I am ready, sir, he sings in his baritone throat. Cohen is so relaxed that he even continues to deliver some dark humor by writing his own epitaph.

David Bowie was something of an agnostic throughout his life, with an occasional exotic spiritual flirtation. He himself was an expert in unusual promotion for the public: he died at the age of 69, three days after the album was published, a magnificent swan song called Blackstar, full of allusions to his limits (q. nobody knew). Bowie had been battling liver cancer for some time and knew he would beat it. A few months after his death, which happened on January 10, 2016, people in his inner circle began to reveal some of the last days. Most notably, he turned his gaze to God and used to repeat the phrase: “Atheists are not in the line.”

It is true. When the big curtain comes up, the money, the vanities, the little bullshit that we sometimes watch for, disappear. Only two things then remain: the love of your loved ones and the choice between committing yourself to hope in God or to turn to terrible futility. The French intellectual Jean D’Ormesson explains it best: God hides everywhere, but reigns over us in what our ignorance calls emptiness, nothingness.

Our whole life runs like a journey to that final exam that we don’t want to see. When the time comes, partisan disgust, materialism and hedonism will become tiny particles of gas that will crash against the Max Planck Wall, where science has already collapsed and is unable to explain the origin of the universe. As Christians, we trust that we remain beyond the wall of the German physicist Planck, God’s forgiveness and peace. The opinion of those who now govern us badly considers this hope somewhat retrograde, not very modern, not at all “progressive.”

Alas, but with an infinite perspective nothing goes… There is no atheist in the line.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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