Tuesday, 19 May 2015
Road to Joy
One of my favourite hymns (of which I have a great many), is Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee. You know the one, the one sung to the tune of Ode to Joy. This seems like the way forward. I’m horribly un-musical, but not too bad at writing lyrics. I’ve always fancied being a famous hymnist (are famous hymnists well paid?) so maybe I should just start plagia- um, adapting other people’s tunes.
Wherever it came from, with that tune, it’s hard not to like it (although I appear to suffer some sort of mental short circuit due to which, sometimes, if I try and hum it, I find myself humming ‘Angels in the Realms of Glory’ instead, and can’t actually bring the tune itself to mind. I blame encroaching age…).
It was written by a bloke called Van Dyke (but neither the painter (who also invented a new type of beard) or the actor), who said of it that, “These verses are simple expressions of common Christian feelings and desires in this present time—hymns of today that may be sung together by people who know the thought of the age, and are not afraid that any truth of science will destroy religion, or any revolution on earth overthrow the kingdom of heaven. Therefore this is a hymn of trust and joy and hope.”
It should be pointed out that when he says ’this present time’, the hymn was written in 1907 and published in 1911. However, what he says in the above quote about ’the thought of the age’ and ’not afraid that any truth of science will destroy religion’ still have a certain something to them. The BBC ran a story on the new government’s proposals to continue their crack down on ’extremism’. I’ve discussed this before, and have nothing further to add, except to say that the quotations from David Cameron, if accurate, are truly terrifying. Obviously this is large being aimed at religious extremism, and there were several rather insulting things said about religion and the religious in the comments section. On another story, on antibiotics, someone capitalised the word ’science’, and described it as a ’force for good’.
In many ways, ’this present time’ is exactly the same as this present time, and the same old arguments are being had, and the same stale, false dichotomy of Science vs Religion continues to be thrashed out. However, continue to be unafraid ’ that any truth of science will destroy religion’. And this is the thing, it is truth. There’s no point anyone denying the evidence of their God-given senses, as a small but noisy number of fundamentalists try and do. Scientific truths must be taken as they are, compared to religious traditions and beliefs and we must decide how the latter fit with the former. That doesn’t mean instantly capitulating on every single point, and we can continue to boldly assert that the absence of (scientific) evidence is not at all the same as an evidence of absence.
I strongly believe that not only the two branches of thought compatible, they are complementary, and it is a source of constant frustration that there are so many people, all fundamentalists in their own ways, that insist that only their path to truth can possibly be the right one, and that all who claim otherwise are morons or villains, or more likely both.
In the face of close-minded disdain and hatred, we must continue to be positive, patient, and forgiving. We must show that our beliefs are a source of goodness and unity, even with those who disagree with us, not a source of division or an excuse for hatred.
Until that distant future time when everyone comes to their senses and agrees with me on all subjects, we must continue to sing a ’hymn of trust and joy and hope.’