Sunday, October 31, 2010

Open Mind, Open World

I'm a musician. And unlike most musicians that I've met, I'm very "geeky" about what is "under the hood" of music in terms of music theory and analysis.

As a result, I tend to get bored with your average commercial music. The only mainstream music I listen to is Contemporary Christian. I seem to be able to look past the musical limitations probably because of the message and the fact that I can listen to it in worship to God.

But music that obsesses me almost always has a very technical side to it. Usually, it is technical combined with melodicism. I see such music as holistic, meaning that it is both propositional (music theory) and visceral (melodic). But sometimes, I'm simply listening to jazz fusion and loving it.

People who don't understand it call it "wierd" but I see them as being like people who watch a 3-D movie without 3-D glasses. It looks strange to them because they lack something very valuable.

Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out. But at the same time, open it enough to not simply dismiss things that you don't like or understand. Sometimes what we call wierd, is really amazing. Sometimes our derogatory labels, say more about our ignorance than they do about the objects of our criticisms.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Free to Not Have All the Answers

Looking at John 4, when Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman, I am struck by how Jesus didn’t take the simplest and most direct path in communicating to her.

While the whole chapter could have been greatly abbreviated by Him meeting her and simply telling her something like “I am the Messiah and here’s the proof. I know that you have had 5 husbands…”, instead He takes a more ambiguous path.

He starts out asking her for a drink of water. He then claims He can offer her “living water”. This is an ambiguous statement, proven by her following questions. This pattern continues. He keeps saying things to her that are less than direct. He purposefully says things to make her ask questions. He is inspiring her her think.

Where is God when we suffer? Where is God when we are in the valley? Where is He when we are on the mountain top? He reveals enough of Himself for us to ask the questions and to think but not enough to prevent us from seeking and knocking.

“Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you” – Matthew 7:7

We seem to complain when presented with the closed doors and the open questions. But without them, we can neither seek or ask.

When we present Christ to the world, we often try to open the doors for them, giving them answers instead of questions.

But in John 4, we see just one of many, many examples found all over Scripture (look at God’s answer to Job in the whirlwind) where God doesn’t give us answers but questions. He presents closed doors so that we’ll have something to open.

If you’ve ever played hide n seek, you know that you spoil the game to have the seeker close their eyes and count to 100, only to open them and find you standing in front of them.

When a baby bird is born, it has to use its beak to peck away at the egg. The temptation for a compassionate human observer is to help it break away the egg. However, if we were to do such a thing, it would die. It builds up its strength by pecking away at the egg.

To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in
stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in
such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.
Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard
As Stanley Hauerwas writes,

What is crucial is not that Christians know the truth, but that they be the truth.
That truth is a living mystery, inspiring people to think, loving them to soften their hearts. We are free not to always have the answers but to be the question.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Death By Contentment

I've seen it too many times.... a musician who has been playing for many years who has not grown beyond the skill level of a beginner. What happens to cause this?

Many times as the person is learning their instrument, they get to a point where they can play some songs and become content.... TOO content. Furthermore, they lack the curiosity and creativity to "question their instrument". For instance, on a guitar, they don't think to ask, "What if I were to tune the guitar to an alternative tuning and learn to play it?" or "What if I learned a new scale shape a month?", etc...

The benefits of contentment are obvious. But these are its detriments. Beyond them, notice the lack of questioning that comes from it. Has life itself dulled you into such a sense that you are content with your perceptions of the world? Or do you have a natural curiosity that comes from a sense of awe and wonder, coupled with the humility to realize that because of human frailty, you must always question at least yourself?

Such questioning not only makes for a great musician, but for a great human being. Don't be content with the answers. They are often times disguised questions waiting to be discovered by someone not content with anything less than the depth of truth.