There are two interpretations of turning to faith traditions, the generous and the ungenerous.
The ungenerous holds that people are cynically using the accumulated capital of solemnity. They want to add a borrowed luster to the celebration. As the magnificent building, the pageantry of dress and the reverberating music strike a chord in people’s carefully prepared hearts, the ceremony gains thereby.
However it may also be that just as some are in a marriage they take for granted, but at moments of deep feeling recognize the deep connection, in emotional moments people realize their religious impulse is not gone. They wish to transcend a purely earthly instant and touch a sense of the Divine. Larkin’s poem “Churchgoing” is about losing faith, but in it he captures this reality:
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious...
There is a hunger for greater seriousness in us. I believe it touches something real in the universe. But either way, we robe it as a destiny, especially in pivotal spots of human time.
David Wolpe | Apr 26, 2011 11:21 AM