Singing Our 'Broken Hallelujahs': The Prophetic imperative in a Messy World
“The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election has done more than upset the political world. For Unitarians and Universalists—and many others—it has challenged the soul. Its meaning is far more than political. There are also moral, spiritual and religious meanings in what has happened and is happening. What are those meanings and what are we to do with them? Leonard Cohen has caught the spirit of the age in his phrase ‘broken Hallelujahs.’ While we may wonder what he meant, it is more important what that phrase may mean for us.” The Rev. Richard Gilbert.
On April 1, 2017, the Rev. Richard Gilbert offered the 2017 Gould Lecture, titled: “Singing Our Broken Hallelujahs: The Prophetic Imperative in a Messy World,” at the May Memorial UU Society, Syracuse NY. This was part of the St Lawrence 2017 Spring Gathering, which also included the UUA Presidential Candidates’ Forum, livestreamed from Bethesda MD.
The lecture was a no-pulled-punches analysis of the presidential election and the current political state of our nation. Rev. Gilbert examined the rise of the President’s personality cult and the expansion of misinformation in society. Reason and truth, he said, are no longer dominant in the American culture and compassion is out of vogue. “The enlightenment for so many is dead.” In its place, he said, a “survival of the fittest ethic “has been set loose upon the land.
In this address, Rev. Gilbert challenges us to honestly discern what is happening around us but not to despair, because “despair is a luxury beyond our means.” Instead, he calls us to become the conscience of the community, learn to suffer through this time, and rise to the call to repair a broken world. Our current political situation, he noted, has “awakened from slumber those who took politics as rhetoric rather than challenge.” And we must remember that democracy is not a spectator sport. Rather, it is a messy work in progress that challenges us to the core.