This post is something different than my usual reminiscing and attempts at philosophy.
A while back XGH had a post about “The Atheist Convention”, a song by Abie Rottenberg. As I wrote there in the comments, as a kid I had really liked this song. It’s got a catchy tune, its upbeat, and it tells an inspiring little story. As my attitude towards religion has changed over the years, so has my opinion of the song. I still think it has a catchy tune and is upbeat, but I now find the story kind of insulting. The message is that inside every atheist is “buried faith,” and all it takes is a single incident for an atheist to abandon his convictions and run to the faith endorsed by his culture.
The original song from Journeys
(I've written before, here, about the idea that people think that everyone, deep down, really have the same beliefs that they do.)
The following is a parody I wrote which turns the premise of the song on its head. It’s not perfect, as the abandoning-faith-due-to-tragedy trope is recognized in the religious world and is considered less legitimate than someone with intellectual questions, but it keeps the premise that all it takes is a single incident to make someone abandon their convictions.
“The Agudah Convention”
The plane took off on schedule from La Guardia
On a bright clear sunny summer's day
What a cheerful trio they appeared to be
They were off the ground westward bound
To the Agudah Convention in LA
Yankel was a Rabbi from Manhattan
Dovid shteiged all day in Sheepshead Bay
Yossi was a teacher out in Woodmere
With the clouds below they were on the go
to the Agudah Convention in LA
Aren't you glad that we'll be staying at the Hilton
I can't wait to hear the gedolim’s latest bans
Did you hear this year they're letting in YU guys?
The convention should be absolutely grand
There'll be speeches that will ponder our difference
The secular world will come under fierce attack
That "science is all evil" is our motto
And gravity is a theory not a fact!
Yankel made a bracha over dinner
Yossi and Dovid answered amen
There was a maskil in the next row shaking his head
Could he be so deluded...to not want to be included
In those with someone up there watching over them?
Suddenly there was a big explosion
Everyone began to scream and wail
The plane was in a spin and losing altitude
Yankel cried "Hashem save us"
Dovid "Next time I’ll take the bus"
And in Hebrew Yossi said, "Shema Yisroel"
Just after that final awful impact
When nearly everyone on board had died
Somehow some way the engines spun and caused a spark
As Yossi watched from the trees
With what seemed to be great ease
The remains of his friends the fire fried
Yossi lost his faith in G-d in heaven
"If God existed He’d have saved us on this day"
The maskil turned and asked reb Yossi with a tear,
"with your friends now passed away...will you still be going to pray
At the Agudah Convention in LA"
Yankel's now buried in Yerushalayim
Dovid’s tomb is near his yeshiva
and Yossi's still a teacher out in Woodmere
But now they call him Doctor, and on superstition he gives lecture
His stifled mind ignited
While flying on United
To the Agudah Convention in LA