The Golden City BG: Theology from Two to Five
“And now a song,” my daughter tells me, completely falling asleep.
– Which one? I ask a rhetorical question.
“About animals,” I hear the expected answer and look for: “Under the blue sky there is a golden city,” and then about the lion, ox, eagle, angel and star.
Once my mother put this song before going to bed on a vinyl player. For 12 years now almost every evening I sing this song to my children. And, it seems, I have the right to unlawful generalization. The “Golden City” is an ideal lullaby, it is a text in which the paradoxical reality of paradise does not at all express its possibility only at the border of wakefulness and sleep.
This song speaks of ultimate meanings, but exactly so that they would be tangible for the child “from two to five,” without requiring any effort from him. It is addressed to an awakening consciousness, not yet capable of feat, of overcoming, of conquering paradise, the Kingdom of Heaven, which is “taken by force”. The song only reminds that you, a baby, have not very far gone from the gates of paradise, that here they are, calm down, sleep, your path to the golden city will be short and easy.
The less we know, the less experienced and felt, the more peaceful our dream, the easier it is to consider the reality from which we have come and where we should come. Of course, we do not return to paradise, but at least partially thanks to a dream we are able to understand what it is, to be ourselves and part of some magical power, to act and rest at the same time, to observe a series of actions and a change of landscapes without any dependence on space and time.
In an increasingly adult person, sleep is poisoned by reflection, conceit, passions, and, generally speaking, sin. It’s easier for a child: he sees just the sky, just a city, just a garden and just the animals that inhabit him. It is easier for him to believe that this picture is related to reality beyond the scope of a dream. And therefore the song to the point. For a child, she is dear. For an adult – an easy and obvious key to a child’s, that is, his own, too, in the past and in the desired “future,” worldview.
It is known that Boris Grebenshchikov incorrectly heard the first line of the canzone written by Henri Volokhonsky, and instead of “Above the Blue Sky” he sang “Under the Blue Sky”. A matter of taste, of course, but I like the BG option more. It is not a matter of theology. Theologically both options are possible. Moreover, their opposition is a mistake.
Of course, the Kingdom of Heaven is indistinguishable to the naked eye, it still needs to be able to be seen, and in this sense it is beyond the borders of this world. After all, for example, Africa – this is far from St. Petersburg not because there are so many kilometers to it – now there are such missiles that they can dominate in a few minutes, the distance is relative – but because we cannot see it from here. And if “sky” is a universal and eternal symbol of the border, including perception, then “above the sky” is just something indistinguishable for the senses.
But the Kingdom of Heaven is not only “somewhere out there”, it is always nearby, but rather inside. More precisely, it itself rushes to us, like an annoying creditor or a bailiff, or a district police officer – it doesn’t matter to us whether we are awake or awake, praying or fornication, playing with children or blunt a telly. It knocks on the door and screams loudly that the whole world is paradise, all of humanity are citizens of Heavenly Jerusalem, only they live for the most part worse than any slave, like captives captured in a war and sentenced to death, having no hope, corrupting themselves gloom and petty passions. So why contrast “above” and “under” if these are only parts of the need for a contradictory dogma? Strange discussion …
But the point, I repeat, is not in it. “Above the Blue Sky” is a reflection, it is a theological speculation, too complex and adult. “Under the blue sky” is the beginning of a fairy tale, this is the beginning of a lullaby, a story adequate to children's perception of the world.
As a child, I never thought that the far-away kingdom is an otherworldly reality, a world of the dead, a "different world" – and what else religious scholars and anthropologists will say there. For me, it was not separated by any wall from reality, I just have not yet learned how to build these walls. “The Golden City” is, of course, not a fairy tale, it is a song in which everything is true, written in a language that is understandable to those who so far understand only fairy tales.
However, here poetry only imitates the Holy Scriptures, from beginning to end the true text, which to interpret literally means to impoverish it. Was Adam and Eve really naked, then they ate an apple and were forced to dress? Yes of course. Just like us? It’s not at all accurate, and in general it’s not clear how. Will lion, ox and eagle meet us in paradise? Meet, meet. Are they like those in Bram’s pictures? No, not like that, but which ones, I’ll probably ask my daughter.
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