From The Living Church-
In the grand tradition of end-of-the-year blog posts, the temptation to reduce another revolution around the sun into an abiding theme, well, abides. To say that 2016 has been a year many would prefer to observe from the rear-view mirror flirts with understatement.
Perhaps the strongest statements about the year came at its beginning and end, with the release of David Bowie’s Blackstar and Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker bookending the year — two albums pondering mortality and the afterlife, released mere weeks before each artist’s demise. A reflection on the two albums may now seem morbid, but I believe they provided lenses through which we can make meaning of the detritus of 2016, and even come to understand better the condition of Western humanity in what may be the dusk of modernity.
Bowie’s album, arriving in the first week of 2016, preceded the artist’s succumbing to cancer by mere days. Before Bowie’s death, the album was heralded as an unconventional late gem of his career. It stood up on its own merits as an ethereal reflection upon mortality and legacy, along with Bowie’s more traditional subject matter of decadence, sex, and low culture. Following his death, the album’s genius as a prerecorded dispatch “from beyond” garnered greater consideration and praise.