There just has to be a ghost in here somewhere, seeing as how this story is about the soul of the nation of Spain -- which has to be some of the most religion-haunted soil on earth. Here is the top of the story by Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times, to set the stage:
OROEL, SPAIN -- When Spanish schoolchildren sing their national anthem, they particularly love the line about Generalissimo Francisco Franco and his "white rear end."
OK, so those aren't the real lyrics. Because there aren't any.
Spain is one of the few countries that have a wordless national anthem. Popular culture, including the bawdy ballad that children famously sing to the anthem's melody, has tried to fill the void.
As you would imagine, this puts Spanish athletes in an awkward position during awards ceremonies at the Olypics and elsewhere. How do they sing along?
OK, so the goal is to write appropriate lyrics for the Spanish national anthem, but this is taking place in the context of modern or postmodern, European Union Spain. What can you mention? What words can you use and what words are forbidden? In other words, what is the "civil religion" of Spain, in a land that is so Catholic in terms of history, yet now is so very secular or post-religion? And what about the history with Islam and Judaism?
So we return to the action, with the hammer falling near the end of the story:
... Telecinco, the television station, conducted an online poll and came up with its winning entry, by the poet and journalist Enrique Hernandez-Luike. It's a piece of "simple metaphors and accessible musicality," Telecinco said.
It opens with a paean to "Mother Homeland, arms entwined in a sign of peace," and invokes the flag, freedom, the constitution, "an ensemble of cultures" and "the hand of Europe."
One thing it does not mention: Spain.
The hand of Europe? As a creator? As a metaphor for Spain's geography?
Thank goodness, the Times offers a sidebar with an English translation of the lyrics. As it turns out, the lyrics are not strictly secular, but offer a kind of Oprah-esque, foggy spirituality. You will need to sit down, if you like linear thought. Now read on:
Mother homeland, arms linked in a sign of peace, our voices raised.
All your children at the foot of the flag and in freedom, with the Constitution.
Art and strength, combination of cultures firm pedestal of a triumphant people.
Hand of Europe outstretched to the whole world, bow in the sea to the wind of Love.
The wind of Love? That's with A. Big. L. Really?
Now there's an interesting angle that should have been included in this nice feature story.