There was a man who came to my church on a Sunday and brought his guitar, and made himself fit right in, accompanying the pianist and the choir at the service. It was like the appearance of Mary Poppins – unexpected, as if he just flew in on an East wind. He was personable and chatted with a lot of the long-time members, including myself. Then after the service, he joined us at a nearby park, where we were having a previously planned picnic to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and May Day. He was in the 50s or 60s I’d say, and his name was Richard. Later I learned he was a dentist with a local practice. Well one thing led to another on this particular Sunday. Another member was present with her flute, and Richard and she collaborated on a few tunes and chords, jamming and fooling around as musicians are wont to do. At one point, Richard strummed a few tunes from the 60s and 70s and several of us sang along: The Boxer, Norwegian Wood, She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah, Obladi Oblada, The House of the Rising Sun. Great fun.
Somehow this segued into his mentioning that he had written a song, and it might appeal to Unitarian Universalists (as we were part of a UU congregation). And he went on to sing it for us. On one level, it could be a kid’s song, but it was really more for adults. It was a song about Mickey Mouse, the cartoon character. It was about how Mickey is a great little guy and has had a lot of success, and been in a lot of movies, and helped launch an empire of sorts, but with all his success and talent there is one thing he is not capable of – he will never know or understand Walt Disney, his creator. This is supposed to be a little parable about how man, in his quest to know God, will never be able to do so.
Okay, on first pass, it sounds simple enough, and clever, and yes something to mentally munch on. But the more I thought about it, the more it became a real mind bender, and started to hurt my head. And then I started to think about existentialism (only I would leap that far afield) and the belief that some existentialists hold, that God, if he does exist (a big “if”), is indifferent to man, and stays out of the picture, a fairly hands off kind of guy. Or so many perceive him to be, if he’s there at all. Well, we know that someone directs Mickey Mouse’s activities all along the way, all through his “life.” He is told what to say and how to say it by a cartoonist (first Walt and then others), and his roles and dialogue are scripted for him (though he doesn’t know it), and his activities at Disneyland are pre-planned by a staff of hundreds. Continue reading