Layton’s State Funeral

Posted: August 28, 2011 in Current Events, Religion
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I don’t usually watch funerals on TV, but I’m glad I caught Jack Layton’s state funeral yesterday on TV.  It was classy, tactful and inspiring.  Every once in a while you witness speeches which can stand the test of time and in this service there were at least three noteworthy, deeply inspiring speeches.  Stephen Lewis’s eulogy was moving, thoughtful and resulted in half a dozen standing ovations.  His ability to capture the spirit of Layton’s life was an eloquent bull’s eye.  Spiritual comments from Rev. Brent Hawkes were tasteful and added a spiritual, religious sentiment, without going overboard.  He stated that he’d worn his academic rather than religious robes out of respect for the inter-denominational spirit of the occasion.  An aboriginal invocation by Chief Shawn Atleo commenced the proceedings.  There was even a Muslim reading from the Qur’an.

The emphasis was on celebrating life, and in Jack’s case, a life which was all about inclusion, compassion and optimism. The even was a reflection of this, including a gay minister, an aboriginal ceremony, a Muslim prayer, a physically challenged performer and countless references to the issues and causes which Layton advocated during his life time.

It was a refreshing contrast to the similar events you often see from the conservative elements of the U.S.  I remember the service for the people killed by tornadoes, an how I had to turn it off because it seemed to be more about Jesus than the victims.  Or the Jesuspollula event held by Perry to pray for rain in Texas.  This truly showed that it was possible to have a service with religious or spiritual context which was tasteful and maintained perspective and which did not need to be offensive to people of differing faiths, or even no faith.

If you missed the eulogy by Stephen Lewis, you should take the time to watch it.  I think that for many of us it qualifies as a clear statement of the Canadian Identity.


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