Sunday, December 14, 2014
I begin this sermon without particular aim, which may not sound sensible. However, experience teaches, it is prudent not to make overmuch sense because it annoys people. What experience?
In 1969, I was sharing a house near the college, on Deeble Street, with three other students. I woke late on a Sunday morning to rock music blasting from the communal stereo in the dining room. I looked about for my clothes until finding I was wearing them and shuffled out to investigate. The French doors giving onto the patio had been thrust open. Coffee and conversation was underway. My housemates were having a lively discussion about the future of the peace movement --which vitally concerned us all.
I shut off the stereo. There was immediate and general protest.
To which I replied: "Ten feet off our door is a Deeble. Ten feet off that, yet another Deeble and so on. This is an old and closely clustered street. No one who inflicts a disturbance that loud upon neighbors has any idea of what peace is, or the least interest in it."
I was roundly declared a self-righteous et cetera --which, of course, I was. I anwered with a quote from Bertrand Russell, a hero who --at the time-- still had a year's work ahead: " ' All movements go too far.' " -- then poured myself some coffee and repaired to my room.
By habit, I flipped on the light switch as I walked in, then remembered. When I had just turned four years old, my eight-year-old brother, Frankie, and I shared a room. One night, I was flipping the light switch on, off, on and off and he asked what I was doing. I replied, "When I shut off the lights, nobody else can see either, right?"
"So, when I close my eyes and can't see, is it dark for everybody else too?"
"Sure! Try it. Close your eyes."
"Ok, can't see. Can you?"
"Nope. Open your eyes so we can look at stuff."
Likewise, the peace movement sent me off to my own apartment where I could ponder such enigmatic questions that kept me awake when I should have been working. They are questions of another century but I am still plugging away at them. Indeed, in individual adjustment and raising new generations to a good idea, all movements go too far.