Wednesday, December 30, 2015



I caught a podcast yesterday on which author James Carroll was talking about how everything we do, in one way or another, is interpretation.  It's certainly true in religious life and practice.  Jesus, Carroll insisted, was interpreting, making meaning of his profoundly Jewish faith.  His disciples were interpreting (some faithfully, others not so much) his gospel of the kingdom of God (which was an expression of his profoundly Jewish faith).

And what we have to do -- in our own time, in the turbulence of it -- is interpret anew who Jesus is and what he means for us.  Which is not to say that we make it up.  We have to do the hard work of reading Jesus in his own time and place (and his decidedly Jewish faith).  And then we have to meet him here, in our own time and place.

Interpretation.  It's a responsibility and a joy and a profoundly liberating thing, when we do it honestly and faithfully and well.  And this is clearly the case here, as Aretha Franklin wows Carole King (and Barack and Michelle Obama) with her interpretation of King's "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman."  She reaches into the heart of King's vision and finds her own.  Wow!  Just wow!

I dare say that here's a case in which the strange lines between sacred and secular, pop and soul, holy and ordinary...where the lines dissolve in a stunning moment of music, voice, joy and humanity.  Aretha!  Making it real!