top of page

Tradition: Democracy for the Dead, Hope for the Living 14th Sunday After Pentecost - August 29, 2021

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Tradition: Democracy for the Dead, Hope for the Living

How many of yall have seen or are familiar with the musical Fiddler on the Roof?

(Sing first lines of “Tradition”)

I love that musical. The story of a small, closely-knit, Jewish village navigating their rapidly changing and perilous world. At the heart of the musical is this undercurrent of a question – Will our traditions sustain us?

Tradition…how does that word sound to you? I imagine for some of us that word offers us a kind of peace, stability, assurance. For others it might be the opposite, we might hear that word and cringe – we think of something fixed, sterile, cold and distant – and there might be others still that it’s even more complex as it’s some kind of combination of the two. It can be a heavy word…it can come with a lot of baggage.

G.K. Chesterton, articulating the gift of tradition, once penned,

Tradition is only democracy extended through time…Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. Tradition is the democracy of the dead.

I love that for two reasons:

1) The idea of honoring those ancestors who went before us.