Posted by: 2thdocbob | 21 April 2016

I’m flying in Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral

I listened to an interview with Graham Nash a few days ago. He spoke of his influences, and talked about how he came up with a few of his classic songs, before turning our attention to his new album.[1]

One of the songs he spoke of was his song Cathedral, from the 1977 album CSN. This song was written while on an acid trip as he traveled to Stonehenge and Winchester Cathedral. In the song, he gives voice to the thoughts of many of his generation as evidenced in the following lines:

“Open up the gates of the church and let me out of here!
Too many people have lied in the name of Christ
For anyone to heed the call.
So many people have died in the name of Christ
That I can’t believe it all. …

“The air inside just hangs in delusion,
But given time,
I’ll be fine.”[2]


As I listened to him perform the song live on the air, with just piano accompaniment, I had a few thoughts about the song, and about the beliefs of his generation and the rising generations who seem to have accepted these beliefs as well.

This is not an indictment of Graham Nash! I am not in a position to judge anyone who has experienced the horrors of war from any vantage point. His song simply made me think. I do not blame Nash for the beliefs of his generation: he is both a product of his generation and a voice for his generation. There are larger forces at play.

My first thought was that I’m not sure that the best time to evaluate one’s faith is while high on LSD (or any other substance, for that matter). This would certainly inhibit one’s connection to the source of our faith, the Holy Ghost. In fact, I’m positive that this is not the right way to do things.

I understand that many of Nash’s generation (those who were alive during the Second World War) harbor strong anti-war sentiments, and profess atheism or agnosticism because they feel that a just God would not have allowed such atrocities to occur. This was a common feeling throughout Europe, and has led to many of the problems that the nations of Europe face today. I state this simply as an observation, noted during my two years in the Netherlands. My purpose is not to debate this.

There are many individuals who reject Christianity, or “organized religion” based on historical “wrongs” committed by groups or individuals (e.g. Kings, Emperors and Popes) against various other groups.

But I see a paradox here.

For some reason it has become acceptable to reject the actions of individuals in apostate Christianity[3] centuries ago[4], while embracing and accepting similar (and worse) actions of other groups today. I refer specifically to socialism and Islam, but we may certainly add others to the list as well.[5]

If one group is rejected because of its historical involvement in “crimes and atrocities,” is it just and fair to accept the “crimes and atrocities” of other groups in the name of tolerance and inclusion? This is duplicity: it does not make sense logically or ethically. The conclusion does not follow the justification.

I cannot accept moral or ethical relativism. Our society has abandoned standards of right and wrong, and takes a two-faced approach to justice, autonomy and many other ethical principles. In fact, ethical relativism seems to lay claim on beneficence as the primary ethical principle while ignoring the other principles. And this also fails to account for non-maleficence, an important corollary of beneficence. It just doesn’t make sense.

We are reaping the harvest we have sown, and it is not palatable to me.


[1] I love Nash’s music, and especially his harmonies. However, I do not agree with all of his beliefs, and that has tempered my enthusiasm for his music in recent years. Once I heard the story behind Cathedral, I had difficulty listening to it. It is a beautiful tune, if you can ignore the words and the message. I cannot.

[2] G Nash, Cathedral, 1977, ©Thin Ice Music, ASCAP

[3] Christianity was in a state of apostasy after the death of the apostles and the scattering of the saints. Priesthood authority was lost to the earth until it was restored in the early 19th century through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

[4] Of course, if you check your history, many of the so-called wars and atrocities were in response to Muslim aggression in the Middle East. The Inquisition of the conquest of the Americas is quite another thing. I cannot condone or defend wars in the name of religion, except when it is necessary to fight against those who would deny us our freedom to worship according to our conscience.

[5] In deference to my many Islamic friends who also desire to worship in peace, we may also call those violent groups who claim connection to Islam apostates. However, Mohammed did encourage violence against the infidels, as well as death. I will not elaborate or debate this here.


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