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Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
2 months ago

What a devastating and raw account of something that every parent dreads with every fibre of their being. It shook me deeply & made me weep. Being atheist I found his words about faith & its healing effects truly thought provoking. That he has been able to come through such a terrible loss with a surer sense of himself and such a positive view of humanity and our strange and wonderful place in the universe is one of the most inspiring things I have ever read.

David Jennings
David Jennings
2 months ago

I am so pleased that UnHerd exists to publish such a profoundly nuanced and touching article. And more pleased that Nick Cave has the courage to exercise his freedom within his vulnerability. Like the Incarnation itself many of us now celebrate, Nick Cave shows what it means to be fully human and how we humans can see the divine. Keep up the pilgrimage!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

What a beautiful conversation – and I say that as a one-time ‘militant atheist’, which for most of my life I have found entirely unproblematic and enjoyable as I rather self-righteously argued with Christian friends for example, and have probably done so on UnHerd a few times as well!

Funnily enough, I have just finished reading Yoram Hazony’s “Conservatism – A Rediscovery”. Hazony emphasises the importance of public religion in a way that is probably uncomfortable for most self-styled conservatives, especially in Britain. But he downplays the centrality of the ‘existence’ of God and even uses some of the same language in exalting the religious and non-secular outlook on life that Nick Cave does. They may be approaching a similar point from very different starting points.

As a gay man who rather enjoys the liberal freedoms granted me, I’m not sure how much I could be a thoroughgoing true conservative, let alone practice a religion (I think Hazony would very much emphasise the idea of ‘practice’ and humility before it) but it has certainly given me a lot of food for contemplation.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Me too, Andrew, and I’m a heterosexual married mother of two. I can’t imagine reading this moving account and not being changed by it in some positive way. There are, indeed, many paths to God.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Good to see your open mind allowing you to change.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

If I might be allowed to say in all humility, recognizing I have no authority to speak about another’s profound innermost thoughts and transparency: don’t confuse ‘religion’ with ‘Christ’. By which I mean, the traditional church has done more harm to hiding Christ’s purpose and actual words than any other factor and in my experience, very few people actually meditate on what Christ actually said. If you do, you may be very shocked to find a yawning delta and an experience quite beyond description.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I guess Hazony is Jewish. I haven’t read Hazony’s book but I am a conservative and Jewish. Many Jews are more interested in finding how God wants us to live than in discussing God’s existence, which is a conversation one can quickly get bogged down in. I grew up in a nominally Christian home. As a “Christian” I could not find God. Reading VIktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning gave me a route to belief. For me, faith is a moment to moment decision to choose life and joy, despite the pain life can bring. This is how God wants us to live and it’s a pretty hopeful expectation. Maybe this is what NC means by a spiritual consolation.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago

Jeez, just brilliant. Richard Dawkins needs to read this.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Everybody needs to read this. I have tears in my eyes. I suspect I’m not alone in that.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Helen Nevitt

Nope, not alone.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Does he? I’m reading it as just another viewpoint – valid in it’s own terms but no more than that – from someone who’s been impacted by a tragic life event, like most people will have been at some point. Cave’s conclusions are his own, and i’m not knocking them, but they have no more validity than the views of any other reasonably sentient adult.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I tend to agree with you, but there’s something about the way that Cave uses language that is so compelling & transcendent. I have thankfully not (yet) had to endure such a loss, but I can see why, in a rarefied & surreal state of grief even those who don’t have a literal belief in a god could find some kind of existential comfort in the notion. A feeling of being part of the warp & weft of the human experience? Even if you don’t completely embrace the idea of an actual divine intelligence one could, in a heightened state, come to feel the approach of the ineffable?
I don’t know. But this godless heathen was so very moved by his ‘epiphany’.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

I agree, his facility with language was something i hadn’t expected, knowing little about Cave beyond his basic career. It may just be that i’m more immune to linguistic ability. His expressions around divinity were beyond ordinary discourse, and no doubt fuelled by the pain of his loss.
I have my own dealings (for want of a better word) with such things, and therefore have no need for the approach of the ineffable on someone else’s terms.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I actually approached the article expecting clever artist cliches. This was an unexpected insight that mirrors my own thinking on spirituality, and it’s benefits.

Last edited 2 months ago by Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Wow! Well put Jane!

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The Sense of Wonder, that is the gift of each of us from childhood, has died in you. Or else sleeps, deeply. How can you not be moved by this?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Precisely the opposite sir, as intimated elsewhere. I have a rich sense of wonder, felt from a very young age and further developed through life’s experiences, that the article did little except confirm that others – eventually – may come to feel it too. Happy New Year!

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve Murray
Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Steve, the viewpoint of a parent who has lost a child is not “just another viewpoint”, Thankfully very few of us lose our children. Just 6 months ago I became a parent who has lost a child and I can say for sure that I am forever changed. My son will forever be 33 years old. So are his 3 siblings and father forever changed.
I am religious and have suffered other major life tragedies – serious family illness and death. But none compares to the loss of a child. It is out of the natural order of life. Belief in God and feeling a place in family, community, and society helps cope with the pain.

Dhimmitude Ishere
Dhimmitude Ishere
2 months ago

As someone who has also lost a child, I agree that the experience is “out of the natural order of life” and that other major life tragedies are not comparable in terms of their effect.

However, each child’s death and the reaction of their parents is unique even between fathers and mothers and “Belief in God” may or may not help cope with the pain.

Whilst I am pleased that you feel that your religious belief has helped you at this time, it should be recognised that others such as me have dealt with our loss without such support and indeed have found the views of those who attempt to put our loss into a religious framework unhelpful and insensitive at best if not grossly offensive albeit that they may believe that they are being supportive.

Speaking only from my own experience (I lost my younger son 16 years ago) I think you will find that the raw emotion will subside over time but that the deep and overwhelming sense of loss will remain within you and unexpectedly overwhelm you on occasion.

Best wishes to you and your family in bearing the load through future years.

Ian Burns
Ian Burns
2 months ago

Bloody marvellous

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 months ago

Excellent.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago

This is so true of profound grief ‘since Arthur died I have been able to step beyond the full force of the grief and experience a kind of joy that is entirely new to me. It was as if grief enlarged my heart in some way’…. You are never the same person ever again.

Joan Hoey
Joan Hoey
2 months ago

Great wisdom from Cave. An eloquent and compelling affirmation of life in the face of heartbreak and loss.

Tyler 0
Tyler 0
2 months ago

God bless Nick Cave.

Jack Martin Leith
Jack Martin Leith
2 months ago

Heartwarming and life affirming.

Eileen Conn
Eileen Conn
2 months ago

Wonderful. I agree with all the comments.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
2 months ago

God bless you Nick. Wonderful stuff. I bought “From Her to Eternity” in my final year at school in 1984, and have been a fan of Mr. Cave’s wonderfully primal howlings for most of my life. His “red hand” short e-mail newsletter is very good as well.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago

In tears. I may never be the same, and that’s a good thing. Thank you, Nick.

Chervonne Grieve
Chervonne Grieve
2 months ago

Stunning.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 months ago

Thank you for publishing this. I’ve been a fan of Nick Cave all the way back to his Birthday Party days, and his latest work, in the aftermath of this terrible grief, is amongst his strongest. A real artist.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jonathan Nash
C Ross
C Ross
2 months ago

Thank you.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 months ago

Thank you UnHerd for this wonderful, heartbreaking and inspiring interview.