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November 29, 2010
You could tell something was up from the moment the organist started to play -- I'm pretty sure it was the first time anybody has played John Philip Sousa on that organ.

"I moved the reserved sacrament into the chapel," Karl muttered out of the corner of his mouth as we passed each other in the hall. Just as well: Karl is a devout person. He would have a hard time getting through "Funeral March of the Marionette" with the body and blood of Christ sitting right there in the wall next to him. You remember "Funeral March of the Marionette," right? Alfred Hitchcock used it as the theme for his television show in the fifties. Yesterday was probably the first time that had ever been played on the organ at St. Luke's, too.

With these and other oddities we whiled away the better part of an hour on an Advent afternoon. Unexpected pleasures they were, and thoroughly secular ones. The audience was ready to laugh, and they did.

That's what humor is, mostly: you take something familiar and put it where it doesn't belong, and it ends up funny. Put that way, the Incarnation itself can be seen as comic: God with US? As one of US? The divine limitlessness pouring itself into the tiny cup of human limitation? Nah-- it'll never happen. And then it does.

Dante's epic poem, of which most folks only ever read the Hell part, is called "The Divine Comedy". Not comedy ha-ha, but comedy as in not tragedy. As in surprising us with a happy ending. The laughs are few in Dante -- though there are some -- but the hope is clearly visible in the poem taken as a whole.

As it is in life, taken as a whole. There are stretches of unbearable pain, and we survive them. We stumble along on the bloody stumps of our former powers, but we do keep walking. And then comes one day when we don't, when we can't anymore, and then we know the show us over.

But there's another act. There's always an encore. We thought we were finished but, it turns out, there's always more.
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