Church was packed on Easter morning, brass players up in the choir loft, ladies with big hats, girls in spring dresses, and when the choir and clergy processed up the aisle, the woman swinging the censer looked like a drum major leading the team to victory, which is what Easter is about, the triumph over death. Resurrection is not something we Christians talk about in the same way we talk about our plans for summer vacation or retirement, but it is proclaimed on Easter and the hymns are quite confident (with added brass) and the rector seemed to believe in it herself and so an old writer sitting halfway back and surrounded by good singers has to think along those lines. It’s right there in the Nicene Creed and in Luke’s Gospel — the women come to the tomb and find the stone rolled away and the mysterious strangers say, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”
And then, on my way back from Communion, the choir struck up a hymn, “I am the bread of life,” with a rocking chorus, “And I will raise them up. And I will raise them up. And I will raise them up on the last day.” As the congregation sang, a few people stood and some raised their hands in the air, a charismatic touch unusual among Anglicans, and then more people stood. I stood. I raised my right hand. I imagined my long-gone parents and brother and grandson and aunts and uncles rising from the dead and coming into radiant glory, and then I was weeping and my mouth got rubbery and I couldn’t form the consonants. I stayed for the benediction, slipped out a side door onto Amsterdam Avenue, and headed home.
That’s what I go to church for, to be surprised by faith and to fall apart. Without the Resurrection, Episcopalians would be just a wonderful club of very nice people with excellent taste in music and literature, but when it hits you what you’ve actually subscribed to, it blows the top of your head off.
This was a good thing after a few days of redactions, acts of collusion and obstruction, corruption in high places, and the president saying, in a bad moment, “Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I am flunked.” Or something along those lines. The New York Times, despite being a family newspaper, decided that the Leader of the Free World deserves accurate quotation, and so printed what he said without dashes, and it was jarring to see it, over and over, except I felt that we were more flunked than he was.
Watergate was a minor traffic accident compared to this, but onward he goes with the full support of his party, and when you consider the likelihood of his re-election and what this would mean for the future of the planet Earth, as global warming continues unacknowledged for four more years and the Supreme Court is owned by originalists who will take us back to plantation days and a dozen countries decide they need nuclear arsenals of their own, it is a good time to go to church and renew your faith in a Higher Power who will not allow His Creation to be corrupted by ignorance, cruelty, and evil.
The good people of Lake Wobegon voted for Mr. Trump, just like the residents of River City bought musical instruments from Professor Harold Hill to keep their boys out of the pool hall, but if their man’s secrets are revealed, they might have to think twice. He’s a New Yorker who made his way up with mob connections, hung out with showgirls, was chintzy with charitable giving, and flaunted himself as Midwesterners were taught not to do. After 9/11, he boasted that his building at 40 Wall Street was now the tallest in Manhattan, this while smoke was still rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center.
But they are still backing him. My cousin, a good and intelligent man, texted me that the Mueller report was an attempted coup d’état by Hillary Clinton and top officials of the FBI. If the president declared a national emergency and called out troops to take over the Times and the Post and MSNBC and CNN, I imagine my cousin would go along with it.
So I stood weeping, singing, hand in the air, at the thought of being raised up. I’m 76. I simply cannot believe that this con man is the end of the story. I refuse to accept that.