God discovers Himself through Mankind? – or, my interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s ”Suzanne”

april 7, 2015 § Lämna en kommentar

I have fallen in love with the song ”Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen. It’s an unusual song since he blends the themes of human love and divine love. As if human love is in a way divine, and divine love is in a way human. The song is also very curious since, as a Jew, he sings of Jesus in a very intimate way.

I have meditated a great deal on this song’s lyrics, But then, only a few days before Easter, the second verse of Jesus really stood out. I quote it here:

”And Jesus was a sailor, when he walked upon the water.

And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower.

And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him,

He said, ”All men will be sailors then, until the sea shall free them.”

But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open.

Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone.

And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind.

And you think maybe you’ll trust him, for he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.”

This verse brings Leonard Cohen’s own interpretation to the life of Jesus, which could seem to be a bit ”daring”. But I don’t mind that, since any new ideas anyone would have of God or Jesus could be considered heretical by the establishment. Jesus himself was seen as heretical by the Jews of his day; and Leonard, as a Jew, is taking a risk; so I too, as a Christian, will take a risk …

I think what Leonard is describing is Jesus’ own path towards reaching mankind. First he describes Jesus walking on water, or in other words, Jesus lives on top of life’s problems and worries with great wisdom. Jesus then also takes note that other people’s wisdom would carry them for a while, but sooner or later it will fail them. At that moment, Jesus sees that people will be ready to trust the his wisdom, and let Him pull them out of the murky waters.

But then something happens. The dreary human life overtakes Jesus little by little, and the reality of human life even erodes his ability to rely on his godly wisdom. Jesus slowly sinks down into human frustration, disappointment, depression: His godly ideals and wisdom can no longer carry him above the waters. He sinks like everyone else … He shares our humanness.

Jesus’ path is God’s path. Mankind may have lost their way, but it seems that even God has lost his way to mankind too.

But then something else happens: People then notice Jesus’ love to them nonetheless, despite His weakness. It’s not His strength they need: It’s His love they need. And it’s as if Jesus loves them without himself being really conscious of it. They reach for Jesus hand, and Jesus reaches for their hand.

(I came to this last interpretation when hearing the lyrics in verse 1 and 3 about Suzanne acknowledging his love).

It’s almost as if it were Mankind saving Jesus or God. Now that sounds heretical, but what if it helps answer the question of why God made us and the universe? Is the whole universe a way for, not only Mankind, but even for God to learn what perfect love is all about? Or maybe less heretically: Is the whole universe a way for God to discover Himself!? Discover Himself through Mankind!? Wouldn’t that be an amazing Easter message?!?!

suzanne and zoe

”suzanne and zoe”. By judy_and_ed @ flickr. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/65924740@N00/8560180809/ License: (cc) (by-nc)

Den roll vi ger Gud

december 15, 2012 § Lämna en kommentar

”Finns Gud?” ”Hurdan är Gud?” ”Är Gud en han eller hon, både-ock, eller ingetdera?”

Visst, man kan fråga alla dessa frågor.

Men man behöver inte sväva iväg så långt för att frågeställningen blir intressant genom att fråga ”Vilken roll ge du Gud?” (Du replikerar att du ger den roll till Gud som Gud själv ger sig. Jag menar att den bedriften är helt befängt eftersom det skulle betyda att människan skulle förstå Gud. Och jag har höga tvivel på att någon fullt greppar Gud.)

Den roll du ger Gud kommer att bestämma hur du ber till Gud, eller talar om Gud, och kommer att bestämma hur du lever ditt liv i relation till Gud.

Jag har alltid känt mig osäker på det sätt vi människor lägger en roll på Gud eftersom den är inte speciellt respektfullt att göra det, och det känns som vi förminskar Gud till samma nivå som en avgud (som ser ut som en gammal gubbe med vit skägg).

Jag har speciellt tänkt på detta det sista månaden, och fick en elektrisk chock när jag hörde låten ”Who by Fire?” av Leonard Cohen som, prästerlig profet som han är, handlar just om det fromma men förrädiska syn på Gud vi har fallit in i. Han chockerar genom att utgå från en böntext från Yom Kippur, det mest allvarliga judiska dagen, där människan ska vara ödmjuk för att få förlåtelse.

Jag citerar denna djärva bedrift från webtidningen Tablet, ”Wall of Crazy”[1] av Liel Leibovitz:

citat

Simply put, while Spector was a priest, cultivating the rituals of a new religion he had helped to create, a religion of rock ’n’ roll, Cohen was a prophet, an artist who sought new ways to speak ancient truths. On his fourth album, for example, he reworked the Unetaneh Tokef, a Jewish liturgical poem that is recited on Yom Kippur, into “Who by Fire,” paraphrasing the prayer’s list of the various ways in which those who have displeased the Lord might find their end—avalanche, barbiturate, hunger—and then adding the line “And who shall I say is calling?” The prayer concludes differently: After counting the ways in which the Almighty may smite his subjects, it comforts by reminding us mortals that “repentance, prayer, and charity avert the severe decree.” Cohen, however, remained defiant. Rather than prostrate himself before the Lord, Cohen coolly reacted to the divine decrees as if they were nothing more than a phone call from a stranger, meriting distance and a hint of suspicion. Before he succumbed to any grim fate, the singer wanted to know just who was doing the judging.

It was a much more radical approach, not only to art but also to Judaism, and it frequently incurred the wrath of Cohen’s family and friends. Early on in his career, while still only a young Canadian poet, he spoke at a Montreal Jewish event and chided the community—his own—as having lost sight of the religion’s true meaning and instead becoming obsessed with building institutions, endowing buildings, and other markers of worldly power and wealth.

slutcitat

I bönen citeras de olika sätt man kan dö på, genom ”öde”, som kan förändras genom bön och omvändelse.[3] Cohen sjunger dessa olika sätten att dö, genom katastrof, mitt i ljuva livet, osv, och Cohen liksom hör dessa alternativ genom telefonluren, och han frågar den som talar i luren till slut: Vem är det som ringer? … (Är det Gud jag talar med? Tillåt mig tvivla!…)

Dvs, han hör inte Gud i detta, eftersom han har inte tilldelat Gud den rollen som utdelar olika domar och sedan får människor att ödmjuka sig genom hot. Jag har sällan hört någon skickat iväg en sådan bull’s eye mot denna ”religiösering” av Gudstron.

För Gud är naturligtvis inte sådan. Gud är så mycket större, och djupare, och mänskligare och gudomligare än så!

Men när maktmänniskor gör om Gudstro till en institution eller religion, så blir det en inpackning av Gud i hanterbara lådor inklusive förståeliga roller vi ger till Gud, och till oss själva. …vilket behöver inte ha något med varken med Gud eller oss själva att göra.

_ _ _

Som kontrast läser man Jesus säga i Thomasevangeliet 77:

”… Klyv trä, och jag är där. Lyft en sten, och ni kommer att finna mig där.” [2]

Någon kommer säkert tänka hemligt eller ropa högt: ”Rött kort! Det där är panteism!! … gnostiskt skräp, jag visste det!”

Nej, det är en lite ironisk tolkning av Pred. 10:9: ”Den som vältrar bort sten blir skadad av sten, och den som klyver ved blir skadad av trä.” [2] Jesus finns där olyckan kan inträffa när som helst, vilket var även sant bokstavligen eftersom han var byggarbetare till yrket (det ironiska!).

Gud var där med Jesus i sitt yrke där han klöv trä och vältrade sten. På samma sätt kommer Gud vara med oss i alla situationer, i nöd och lust. Gud är inte den som funderar hur han ska ta kål på oss, Gud är den som är med oss mitt i glädje och bedrövelse! Precis som Gud var med Jesus självt.

_ _ _

I dag var en sorglig dag där 20 småbarn blev ihjälskjutna i Connecticut. Vågar vi tro att Gud finns mitt i det som inträffade? Hur skulle det i sådana fall påverka hur vi tänker och hur vi älskar?

_ _ _

[1] sidan 2 på http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/music/118825/wall-of-crazy

[2] sidan 81 och 224 i ”Thomasevangeliet”, översättning av Bo Frid och kommentarer på Jesper Svartvik.

[3] se den engelska översättningen under rubriken ”He Judges Us” på http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unetanneh_Tokef

”An undivided love”

februari 4, 2012 § Lämna en kommentar


This coincidence feels pretty cool: I refered to Leonard Cohen’s new album in a blog, and then about how different love’s are actually different expressions of the same love in another blog post.
Then I listened to Leonard’s song ”Come Healing” on the radio and I hear these words:

O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The Heart beneath is teaching
To the broken Heart above

These words remind me of a line in the Lord’s prayer: ”on earth as it is in heaven”, though the song text is more like ”in heaven as it is on earth”? But what struck me was the vision of the healing of love, that the love in heaven och the love on earth need to unite in healing. … [edit] or actually love is undivided, but our troubled lives distract us from this undivided love, and probably distract this love of fully finding its place in heaven and earth!

”Can language describe reality” revisited … and a bit repentive[1]

januari 27, 2012 § Lämna en kommentar

After sample listening to the modern prophet Leonard Cohen’s new album ”Old Ideas” at The Guardian’s Cohen interview page (by invitation from Leonard Cohen’s home page) I stopped eating my breakfast when I heard his second song ”Amen”, in which he sang ”amen” first sort of ironically, but slowly turned dead serious. Don’t know if you get the association with the recent discussion between me and Emanuel-Hai about language and truth, but hearing the modern prophet Leonard say ”amen”[2] made me stop munching on my peanut-butter spread crisp bread (uh-oh, revealed my lazy breakfast habit :-S).

Why? Well, I did touch briefly on the fact (in the aforementioned discussion) that, if my hypothesis was true that one cannot be sure that language is capable of describing the ultimate (ontological) truth, then holding to the tenants of faith is really actually a leap in faith. Well, after hearing my idol Leonard sing ”amen”, first ironically (which catched my attention) and then seriously (which stopped my munching), made me seriously consider the possibility of the ultimate truth being something other than the ”ontological” truth, which until now I have naturally taken as the ultimate truth. What if the ultimate truth is a sphere naturally described by language?

So I figured: What is language really good at? Answer: story-telling. Also lyrics, like I’m listening to now, or can read in Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer’s collection of poems. From my courses in anthropology, I recall how history (the grand story), in tribes, is told and retold, by mouth, from generation to generation. So language is perfect in telling about our course in life (stories) and place in life (lyrics and poems). On the other hand, language is probably not very good in logics or physics.

So what if the ultimate reality is (or includes at least) our course through history, and our experience of our existence in this world. Of course, that’s pretty anthropocentric; but what if that was the ultimate reality? That would mean that language would and could naturally express truths that also would be of utmost important to us.

This would, of course, imply that the physical world would exist for realizing this history and existence of ours. That sounds baffling. But it does rhyme with the sort of experience I have at times when I’m wrapped up in ecstasy over anything astonishing beautiful (a film, or a woman, whatever): I get the feeling that the whole cosmos has been and is configured for the reason of leading me (us?) to this very moment and this particular revelation! Have you ever experienced that? What if that is really the case?

[1] ”repentive”: huh, doesn’t seem to be in the ”dictionary”; but that doesn’t bother language, I guess …
[2] ”amen” אמן is related to ”emet” אצת truth

There is a crack …

juni 20, 2011 § Lämna en kommentar

Jo, så här började det hela: Jag skulle kolla upp de egentliga orden i den där ”Halleluja-sången” som man ideligen hör i skvalstationerna … och när jag läste orden och såg författaren sjunga sången från sin comeback-turné, då blev jag ögonblickligen förälskad! …

… Kanske för att jag kände igen mig själv i honom: en helgon som på nåt viss fått glorian på sniskan i denna knasiga världen. … Leonard Cohen, en urban ”präst med fedorahatt” skulle jag vilja beskriva honom.

Från hans låt ”Anthem” återfinns en känd Cohen-citat som på nåt viss sammanfattar hans lyrik-och-sång-gärning:

❝There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.❞

"Leonard Cohen the Redeemer" (cc by-nc-sa) by jilliancyord @flickr

"Leonard Cohen the Redeemer" (cc by-nc-sa) by jilliancyord @flickr

Han får frågan om dessa strofer i en intervju med den portugisiska veckotidningen Express:

In other song you also say ”There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. It is not a very happy thought to believe that something will always have to break, to open a crack, in order to the light gets in…

It is a happy thought if we enjoy the truth. There is always something that will have to break. Usually it is our personal proud.

A Buddhist thinker said that disappointment is a great way to illumination. Other masters said: ”from the broken débris of my heart I will erect an altar to the Lord”.

The idea that there is a staircase of gold and marble, which leads to knowledge is seductive, but seems to me that the idea of something needing to get broken before we can learn anything is a more true idea. It is my experience, maybe you can escape it, but I doubt it. Unless the heart breaks, we will never know anything about love. As long as our objective universe don’t collapse, we’ll never know anything about the world.

We think that we know the mechanism, but only when it falls we understand how intricate and mysterious is the operation. So, it is true, ”there’s a crack in everything”, all human activity is imperfect and unfinished. Only that way we can have the notion that there’s something inside us that can only be located through disillusion, bad luck and defeat. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.

… Det kommer några fler Cohen-inlägg framöver! 🙂 …

Var befinner jag mig?

Du bläddrar för närvarande bland inlägg taggade Leonard CohenPataphysics of Simulacra.