Joy and Song and John Ford
For an atheist, even those functional atheists who make a hobby out of churchgoing but who do not actually believe that any of the Creed is true, cannot sing, not in Ford's sense. People may sing for diversion, or may listen to singing for entertainment, and there's nothing wrong with that. But if you have no sense for the mysterious and transcendent -- if you do not bow in humility before the mysteries of Man and Woman and Child, let alone God -- then you have nothing that will unite you and your fellows in gratitude to sing about, and certainly no one beyond yourselves to sing to. The clodhopping farmers of Drums Along the Mohawk are happy to be together at the barn dance to celebrate a wedding, not just because a wedding is an excuse for drinking, but because any wedding is to them like a moment's reentry into Eden, or a moment's foreshadowing of heaven. The secular world is optimistic, sure, and can provide a lot of fun, sometimes of the harmless kind. But it knows neither hope nor joy.
This has some important relation to the 2007 Korean movie Le Grand Chef which we saw last night with the Wildenbeests, Buddhist/traditionalist though that movie is. Come to think of it, the protagonist of that movie may have to be Buddhist because it is about tradition and loyalty, but his attitude is highly Christian-- that simple work is ennobling, that bodily pleasures and existence in this world are good, and that what is gained by sin is not worth having.
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