I lift mine eyes to “Rocky Top Tennessee”

Utah-born and bred Philocrites recalls how the Mormon anthem “Come, Come Ye Saints” moved him to tears when sung at King’s Chapel, Boston.

The closest experience I have had to this was at the Opening Ceremony at Nashville 2000 GA. Mind you, I think Opening Ceremony has been a disorganized rah-rah shambles and needs to be better orchestrated. I even forgave them the 80s-Metal-Band-Reunion-Tour-with-Special-Guest lighting when a bluegrass group broke into “Rocky Top.” OK, this is less “God’s providental care leading us to Deseret” and more “I’m being destroyed in the city and am home-sick for my mountain home where we fornicate, drink hard liquor, and murder Revenuers.” But those are my people. (Except for the murdering part. Probably.) So what are you gonna do?
And this is quite a concession: “Rocky Top” is the fight-song for the Univerity of Tennessee, a football rival of my own alma-mater, The University of Georgia.

At that GA, for the first time I felt “a part of the team” and not in spite of being a Southerner. The usual, but fading message from the Unitarian Universalists, as implied by a fascination about “what happened in Selma”, is “look at those hateful crackers. We’re better than them.”

Bringing in the bluegrass group showed more cultural awareness than the atrocious theme hymn (refrain: We pledge ourselves to diversity.) we were forced to sing. But I cried, not from principle, but because, like Philocrites, I never never never thought I would hear it in a Unitarian Universalist context.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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