Serial Obstructor

Today’s ProJo says that mayoral candidate Chris Young held up a debate for one hour, forcing about 200 citizens to wait in a stuffy hall until the police escorted him out of the building. Full story here.

There is a pattern here, or maybe a passion.

The first time I met him was several years ago. He was collecting signatures outside of East Side Market. I had been canvassing for my neighbor, Rhoda Perry, so I felt softhearted and kindly to everyone waving a clipboard. I signed for him, but even then knew he would not get my vote.

I next saw him at a State House hearing for marriage equality. I was signed up to testify, and like a couple of hundred others had to stand in the hall for hours. It was stifling and crowded, and it appeared to me that the first to sign were the last to testify. When Chris Young took his turn he spent about ten minutes fumbling with a Bible searching for some footnote. He said something about religion and took a long time saying it.

Later he appeared at a health care Town Hall at Warwick City Hall. He and his companion made so much noise you could hardly hear James Langevin speak, and that seemed to be deliberate. He was ejected by the police, but returned and resumed bellowing. There was good reason to believe that organized groups had come to fill the hall and shut down debate. One Rhode Island Republican said as much. I think Chris Young is a freelancer, though, marching to his own drummer. He’s a Democrat, though not exactly in the mainstream.

Last December he expressed himself again at a forum sponsored by Patrick Kennedy, and was photographed by the Journal with his shirt riding up and a police officer on each arm.

Today’s ProJo article has a photo of him clutching a statue of the Virgin Mary. I’m probably just imagining that the Blessed Mother looks embarrassed. I know my mother would be if I acted that way. I think that being hauled away is Young’s passion and transcendent experience, with police and news photographers playing the role of the Romans. It would be better if he had these moments in church, but he wouldn’t be so special there.

The sad thing about the hijacking of Faith by Politics is that the most politically connected and media-smart churches are the first to jump in front of the cameras claiming they are the true and pure expression of their religion.

But when someone breaks the rules, disrupts a public event, and acts really weird it shouldn’t take an hour to escort him out. Humility is a virtue too, and Jesus kind of liked it. Civility is a good thing to bring to a civic occasion. Maybe a little too pagan a concept for some, though. Especially those who live by the Biblical exhortation to be urgent in season and out of season.


Maybe the virtue of Art is that it is transgressive. It jumps over the fence but lands in exactly the right place.

Leonard Cohen’s hit song ‘Hallelulia’ should have been sucked dry of all meaning by now. In fact, the old guy has got a lot of nerve to still be rocking. I played ‘Suzanne’ with three chords and a voice that never would be trained in 1976. We all thought he was blessing our own various religions. Leonard Cohen was no spring chicken even then.

I posted a clip of him singing about a month ago and thought it was the definitive version. Darned if he didn’t have other amazing performances. Here’s the one my minister,Rev. James Ford, placed on Monkey Mind Online.