Ode to Western Joy

“The aim of institutions – whether scientific, artistic, political, or religious – never is to produce and foster exceptional examples; institutions are concerned, rather, for the usual, the normal, the mediocre.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

On occasion, I take a respite from healthy living and accompany a friend of mine to the ocean front, where we set up lounge chairs on our favorite beach. We smoke cigars and discuss philosophy while watching the sun set. A few weekends ago, we arrived earlier than our usual habit. As we topped the berm and caught our first glimpse of the beach, we noticed something unusual.

On the sand was an alter, with chairs arranged around it. A small crowd was gathering, all dressed in very nice clothes. My friend and I were going to witness a wedding, it seemed. We’re both bachelors and share most of the rough characteristics that define young men in our position. Nevertheless, we were of a romantic mind and the wedding was a comfortable distance away from our usual spot, so we set up with our chairs angled to get a good view of it.

We remained close enough to hear the music playing over the loudspeaker. It was a beautiful rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon. “This is wonderful!” I mused, as I lighted my cigar. A mom nearby was also watching the wedding. Her two children played in the sand, oblivious to the beautiful act about to unfold. Soon the crowd was in place and the groom emerged. As he came to the front of the audience, the music changed, and played the spring movement from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (ironic, since this was late fall).

Of course, the highlight of a wedding is the bridal march, which came after the groom was situated. But when this young girl appeared (she was young and very beautiful, the more so because of the glow of happiness around her), the traditional music didn’t play. Instead (and this brought a tear to my eye) the crowd was treated to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, one of my favorite songs in the world. In a time when my friend and I lament the lack of good Christians in the south, this woman (for it had to have been her choice) had chosen one of the most beautiful songs in Christendom to accompany her change in headship.

When I saw her emerge, and when I heard that music, and saw the faces in the crowd, and saw the father wipe his eye as he took her hand, I realized that I loved not just this, but all such western, Christian institutions, and that I would gladly give my life in their defense should it ever be necessary. These institutions safeguard European honor. The hearth and home make us human. It’s only those who despise humanity that want to see these things ended.

Thus, I commented to my friend that Nietzsche could hang for all I cared. “I have no idea what you’re talking about” he said, as he wiped a tear from his own eye.

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