By now, last month's surprise Hallelujah Chorus at the food court in a Welland, Ontario shopping mall has spread all over the internet. If you have not yet, you must view it! As I watched it today for the sixth or seventh time, finding my smiles yet irrepressible, and still wiping tears from my eyes, I wondered ...
The popular Antitheists of our day, and cultural icons like John Lennon, insist that the world will be a better place when all religion has been eradicated! Ah yes, “Imagine” with me a world forever cleansed of George Frideric Handel!
I tried in vain to think of a single cultural contribution that comes close to Handel’s Messiah which has been inspired by thoughts of a god-free cosmos. I could not think of anything that stirs the heart and soul. I did think of John Lennon’s ode to a world delivered of the joys and hopes of faith. Ah yes, Imagine! The words and music are, admittedly, mildly arousing. A bit mournful. Kind of like dry toast. Or old black and white photography. But still, I’ve sung along and (genuinely) tried to catch Lennon’s fervor (if indeed we could call it that). But listening to Lennon I have never felt the exhilaration, the sheer unquenchable joy flooding my whole being, mind and soul, which arise involuntarily during these five minutes of Handel in the Mall.
But I must admit to a faith-induced predilection to experience such a high! My atheist friends will no doubt find themselves yawning in boredom. And surely they can point me to works of art, music or visual arts, that stir their souls, that inspire them profoundly, that awaken deep emotions of joys rising to overwhelm their senses. I would love to hear about them!
Now I know that there is a certain sense of awe and excitement that is energized by our discoveries in physics and biology. I share those! They are wonderful. But, if I may be so bold to say so, they do not even fit into the same category with the sheer transcendent delight aroused by countless examples of faith-inspired art and literature.
Nevertheless, I am assured by those who seem to know, that the lot of mankind will be greatly improved when the vestiges of faith and religion are but fading memories. The Antitheists will no doubt breath a huge sigh of relief knowing that their lunch in the food court will never again be so rudely interrupted.