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A hat tip to Iris DeMent


You ever had a bit of lag time on a life lesson?

This past Sunday I spoke at the Anchorage UU Fellowship’s 9 a.m. Forum.  I was talking generally about non-theistic spirituality, and the title of my talk was “Reason and Reverence, Meaning and Mystery.”

A few weeks back at our other service, a folk-singing member sang a song called, “Let the Mystery Be.”  It was light, a little bit funny, and sounded to me like a great intro to my Forum presentation.

And it was.  Three other musical members of the fellowship did a wonderful job, people laughed, and enjoyed the live music (which doesn’t usually happen at the Forum).

As the applause died down and I was resuming my seat on the daïs, John B. (another member) called out that the songwriter was Iris DeMent.

I made a flip comment, an easy joke about growing up in a fundamentalist bubble and knowing nothing about music, and moved on.  People laughed, of course, because joking about fundamentalists is a too-easy target in a largely humanist UU setting.

After the service John B. came up to me, and with an earnestness I noticed but didn’t understand, spoke to me again about Iris DeMent.  “You were careful to credit everyone you quoted in your talk,” he said.

I was a little brain fried.  Happens when introverts play extroverts in public.  I didn’t get it.

But the intensity of his tone stayed with me, and when my brain-cramp relaxed, I began to think about what he said.

Yes, I did grow up in a fundamentalist bubble.  Yes, that does contribute to my musical ignorance.

But I don’t need to nurture that ignorance, and protect that bias.  Part of honoring the worth and dignity of every person is giving credit to musicians as much as ministers and theologians.

It took me a while, but consider the lesson learned.  Thank you, John.


2 thoughts on “A hat tip to Iris DeMent

  1. I thought about saying her name as well, before we began the song, and had a lapse. I love this woman’s music! So sorry I didn’t follow through w/ this either.

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