The mystical comfort of music

Immediately following the 2016 US presidential election, the very last place I wanted to go to for comfort was my church.  I’m not alone in this.  I attend a fairly-conservative, mostly-white Republican Evangelical church in a similarly populated town.  As a registered Democrat, I suddenly felt politically and ideologically “naked” among my fellow parishioners like never before.

Weeks before the election, while explaining to my first grader the simple first-grade ethics of mutual self-respect, gender equality, compassion for the indigent, I was struck by how these ideals have somehow been lost on a host of the very people that espouse such virtues from the pews.  The mantras of “build a wall”, “lock her up”, “grab them by the pussy” and other patently anti-Christian bully sentiments surely are at odds with the core beliefs of my fellow churchgoers.

But alas, that’s not what the election results tell us.  70-80% of my church voted for this monster.

I haven’t yet made peace with my tenuous relationship to Church (capital ‘C’); even less so with Evangelicalism as a model for modern church organization and outreach. But it’s inside of this chaos that I felt the most curious bit of solace: choir.

I’ve talked about my membership in our church choir before.  It’s no mystery that music can have incredibly calming and healing effects on people.  So it was in choir rehearsal recently that — despite not having any conscious clarity about the election — the music of Gustav Holst moved me to some modicum of peace.

Here is a sample of another choir’s performance of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in his hand
Christ our Lord to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

King of Kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth he stood,
Lord of Lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heav’nly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads his vanguard on the way,
As the light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the pow’rs of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six wing’d seraph;
Cherubim with sleepless eye
Veil their faces to the presence
As with ceaseless voice they cry,
Alleluia, alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord most high.


Cowardice asks the question: “Is it safe”? Expediency asks the question: “Is it politic”? Vanity asks the question: “Is it popular?” But conscience asks the question: “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one what is right.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Stamina +3, Courage +2, Plot -10


Dungeons & Dragons (2000)

Release Date: December 8, 2000
Starring: Justin Whalin, Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch, Bruce Payne
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Runtime: 107 min
Original Title: Dungeons & Dragons
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: New Line Cinema, Silver Pictures, Sweetpea Entertainment, Behaviour Worldwide, MDP Worldwide, Stillking Films
The classic role-playing game comes to life in this magical adventure. The empire of Izmer is a divided land: Elite magicians called Mages rule while lowly commoners are powerless. When Empress Savina (Thora Birch) vows to bring equality and prosperity to her land, the evil Mage Profion (Jeremy Irons) plots to depose her. But this good-vs.-evil battle is no game!

Cast Dungeons & Dragons

  • Justin Whalin
  • Role: Ridley Freeborn
  • Jeremy Irons
  • Role: Profion
  • Thora Birch
  • Role: Empress Savina
  • Bruce Payne
  • Role: Damodar
  • Zoe McLellan
  • Role: Marina Pretensa
  • Marlon Wayans
  • Role: Snails
  • Robert Miano
  • Role: Azmath
  • Tomas Havrlik
  • Role: Mage
  • Lee Arenberg
  • Role: Elwood Gutworthy
  • Kristen Wilson
  • Role: Norda
  • Martin Astles
  • Role: Orc #1
  • David O'Kelly
  • Role: Three Eyes
  • Richard O'Brien
  • Role: Xilus
  • Matthew O'Toole
  • Role: Orcs
  • Edward Jewesbury
  • Role: Vildan Vildir

Trailer Dungeons & Dragons

Director/Writer Courtney Solomon saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace one too many times.
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