Keeping vigil...

Tonight my dear woman is keeping vigil with her sisters as her mother moves closer to death. There has been a host of ups and downs over the past week but... to everything there is a season, yes? So after a full and good day here in Pittsfield - a day of blessing and deep connection with sweet and important people - we spoke on the phone a few times before she headed back to the hospital for a night watch.

Strange as it might seem, as I started to rewatch season two of "The Wire," Tom Waits' version of the theme song just jumped up and grabbed me like an unexpected prayer. One of my favorite tunes...

One of the things about popular culture that fascinates me is the insight that as a society becomes more outwardly secular, different cultural sectors take up the role of sharing a message of spirituality. That's the observation of Conrad Oswalt who noted that contrary to the predictions and fears of those who worried about the end of civil religion's dominance, our still speaking God has not faded away - nor has God's "voice" been lost. It is just being expressed and shared in non-traditional ways.

For example, two of the most theologically sophisticated TV shows - The Sopranos and Six Feet Under - were often way too crude and rude for many middle of the road church audiences. But they both wrestled with the themes of life, death, the quest for meaning and the role of morality far more effectively than... Touched By an Angel. In a different way, Barbara Hall's, Joan of Arcadia, explored the theme of grace and presence in an age of confusion with humor, humility and insight.

And let's NEVER forget the depth, theological sophistication and use of popular culture music in Homicide: Life on the Street. They set the standard for listening to a still speaking God in the heart of culture. Dig Suzanne Vega's "Blood Makes Noise."

And then there's Springsteen who takes the prayers of his Roman Catholic youth and makes them part of popular culture with his lament: Souls of the Departed. Freakin' brilliant...

Comments

rbarenblat said…
We just finished watching season two of The Wire last night! What amazing characters; what a rich and real world.

Thinking of you and your family at this tough time.
RJ said…
I totally love that show... I am a junkie for the visuals of industrial Baltimore, too. Many thanks.

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