from nathaniel west’s the day of the locust — a funeral scene:
the overhead lights of the chapel were suddenly dimmed. simultaneously other lights went on behind imitation stained-glass windows which hung on teh fake oak-paneled walls. there was a moment of hushed silence, broken only by faye’s sobs, then an electric organ started to play a recording of one of bach’s chorales, “come redeemer, our savior.”
tod recognized the music. his mother often played a piano adaptation of it on sundays at home. it very politely asked christ to come, in clear and honest tones with just the proper amount of supplication. the god it invited was not the king of kings, but a shy and gentle christ, a maiden surrounded by maidens, and the invitation was to a lawn fete, no to the home of some weary, suffering sinner. it didn’t plead; it urged with infinite grace and delicacy, almost as though it were afraid of frightening the prospective guest.
what writing! i don’t think nathaniel west had any intention other than creatively describing the funeral scene. but he seems to have inadvertantly written a scathing endictment of much of what’s popular in the american church, in our current day. maybe he’s nostrodamus.