Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A joyful noise

I enjoyed reading this story about Stonehill graduate Lois Commodore on the college website, and visiting her own site. I did not know Commodore when she was a student, but I certainly noticed her presence on the campus.

Here is a young woman who seems to have found a place of peace between science and faith. She is aware of the tension: "You have to prove everything to a scientist. Proving you believe in something you can't show exists is very, very difficult."

Her faith expresses itself through music -- gospel music -- and I tend to be right there with her.

I grew up on gospel music. It was part of the radio soundscape in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the 1950s. Many hours I spent in my room with my little Sears Silvertone listening to country and gospel on WCKY out of Cincinnati (along with commercials for chewing tobacco and baby chicks). I still listen to Black gospel, and when I'm on my Bahamian island I sometimes slip into the back pew of a Baptist church and soak my soul in the exhilaration. Black gospel is what religion should be all about -- celebration, thanksgiving, praise -- without any hangups on dogma or need to proselytize. Yes, there are the usual referents of Christian faith, but if these empower what Commodore calls "that part of you that embraces kindness and gentleness," I say, more power to her.

If I were going to join a religion, it might be part Black gospel, part Catholic sacramental tradition, and part Unitarian Universalist scientific agnosticism.