Monday, July 10, 2017

Old Christian music grump

I got saved in the spring of 1973, and largely grew up spiritually with the Jesus Music of the '70s and '80s.  It's not like I didn't appreciate at least *some* of the hymns (I went to Asbury College, a decent Christian college with roots back into the Holiness movement, with professors who encouraged us to read hymn lyrics (pretty good advice, actually)).  Of course, back then there were those who objected to Jesus Music, saying that the hymns were good enough.

As I approach my 60's, I'm finding the the temptation is definitely there to become one of those 'the old music is good enough' old grumps, except that in my case the 'old music' is my 60's/70's Jesus music compared to modern CCM (rather than comparing 'the old hymns' to the new music).  I'm tempted to grump about the superiority of the old CCM versus the current CCM.

I've tried to look at why this comes up and not just succumb to the temptation.  So far, this is what I've come up with:
  1. I'm not really comparing apples to apples.  Anytime you compare 'old music' to 'new music' (particularly when the old music is something you remember from your much younger years(for those of us who have much younger years)), you're not really comparing equivalent music.  In any period of time, you're got schlock music, and good music, and everything in between.  In remembering the old music, you by and large don't remember the schlock music from back then.  It was forgettable, so you forgot it.  But when dealing with the current music, you don't have much choice but to face it all.  You're comparing the best of the old stuff with the entirety of the range of quality of the new.  It's not surprising that in that comparison, the new stuff comes up short.
  2. I've got years of emotional investment in the old music that I can't possibly have invested in the new.  I've been a Christian over 40 years.  Over the years, Christian music (both hymns and CCM) has comforted and instructed me, and helped me hang on.  It's unlikely that the new stuff is going to have the same emotional impact as my old familiar music, and expecting it to do so would be unreasonable.  Nor would it be reasonable to expect younger Christians (to whom my 'old music' may very well be new) to react as I do to my old, familiar music - they simply can't have the same time of emotional impact as I've had.  I'll have to admit, this latter part is something I struggle with.
  3. Overidentifying with music, and taking it personally when people don't share your tastes. - Would John have included the 'lust of the ear' in his catalog of worldly characteristics (see 1 John 2:16) if music had been as much a part of the world then as it is now?  Note that  in the world, it's not unusual to find that people react negatively when you put down their music.  Dis their music, and you'll get a reaction (even if they  don't use that terminology).  Though taste in music is primarily subjective, we like to regard our own musical likes and dislikes as though they are fairly objective truth.  I like it, so liking it must be  right, right?  There are reasons I like my music, so other people should accept those reasons and like it, ,too.  At one point, I realized  that I  tended to refer to the Jesus Music of the '70s and '80s as "My Music".  I no longer think that that's necessarily healthy.  Having personal likes and dislkes is fine - you're going to have them.  Over-identifying with them isn't.  It means that you're going to become proud of and over-protective of those preferences - like the world, reacting to dislike your preferences in music very negatively.  There is value in the old hymns and the older music - be willing to share the  value you  see in them, but avoid acting like those who don't see the same value, and who prefer other music must be missng it.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

BAM! arguments, or gentle correction?

Surprise!  I've actually made a post without waiting over a year!

I've long thought that 2 Tim 2:24-25a ("And the Lordʼs slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness.") should govern our discussions a lot more than it typcally does.  Even in Christian discussions, "heated disputes" often characterizes our disagreements rather than "correcting with gentleness".

But lately, the followup verses (2 Tim 2:25b-26  "Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth and they will come to their senses and escape the devilʼs trap where they are held captive to do his will.") have gotten my attention.  We often offer an argument expecting that that argument will effectly stop our opponents in their tracks, that they'll find themselves so  thoroughly refuted that they shut up (there's a reason that a common form of click-bait headline is effectively "X's response  DESTROYS opponent Ys argument" (of course, if you click through, you  typically find that it doesn't really destroy the opponent's argument).  We *want* our side to be that "victorious".  If inflates our pride in being on the  "right side").  But this passage from Paul doesn't seem to engender that expectation.  It's more like you leave the effectiveness  of your gentle correction up to God, with the result dependent on whether God gives them the grace, repentance and recognition of the truth necessary to escape the error they're in (of course, this assumes that  our gentle correction (or heated argument) was correct in the first place, which if we're honest, is regrettably not always the case).  The attitude is what gets my attention.  It's not "superior", or prideful, or arrogant (all of which  are attitudes that often turn off those we're trying to reach).  It's a gentle presentation of the truth, leaving the results up  to the Father's grace.  Are we doing this?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Out to look right, or to do right?

A few years ago, I posted a "proverb" of mine:

The wise man wants to act righteously, and and welcomes correction as an aid to doing it. He will defend his reputation against unfair attacks, but only after examining the criticism to see if there is anything to learn from it. For him, doing right trumps looking right.

The fool wants to look righteous and regards correction as an obstacle to that goal. Defending his reputation is the first priority, and only after he once again feels his reputation is secure will he, possibly, examine the criticism for validity. For him, looking right trumps doing right.
It's derived from Ps 15:4c, Pr 12:1,15, and 2 Cor 13:7, with a generous dose of C. S. Lewis's principle of First and Second Things..  As usual with my  insights, it's pointing to some aspect of humility.  But when reading through Matthew recently, I realized that it could also be derived from Mat 6:1-18. Jesus warns against practicing your righteousness in front of people, in order to be seen, and gives 3 examples.  He even says "be careful not to"(HCSB, CSB, NET, NIV) or "Beware of "(NASB, ESV), doing this, which implies that it's something easy to slip into if you're not careful.  If you're only focused on "doing good", it's going to be easy to slip into doing it for the wrong reasons - for building up your own reputation, for making yourself look good to other people.  You have to be wary of, to be careful of, slipping into this.

Rather than doing your deeds before people, Jesus advocates just the opposite: do  your giving anonymously, pray in private rather than making a spectacle of public prayer, when fasting, do your ordinary grooming so people can't see you're fasting.

Does this mean  everything has to be done anonymously?  I don't think so;  Jesus also says in Mat 5:16: "let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven"".  People will see your good works, but your light should shine in such a way that they glorify your heavenly Father, not glorify you.

Attitude makes the difference.  Are you out to advertise yourself, or are you out to do what Father wants, regardless of how you look?  Are you the wise man, wanting to  do what 's right, even if you end up looking wrong, or are you the fool for whom looks and perception are everything?

Friday, January 06, 2017

A note on I Cor 8:1

Recently, I went over the notes I've made on the Olive Tree software I use to read the Bible, and ran across this note I made on I Cor 8:1, which seems share-worthy:

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up".  Knowledge tends to point to itself and gets all wrapped up in the fact that it knows what it knows. This is very head-puffing.  Love takes that same knowledge, and constructs.  Note that 'edify', though very much a "religious" word, tends to because of that become vague almost to the point of uselessness.  'Build up' is heading the same way.  To get the idea across in our culture, I'd use the term "construct", or maybe just "build" by itself.  Knowledge on its own inflates the head of its owner to the point where it is empty and flimsy.  Love takes that same knowledge, and builds something solid in the lives of others, whether or not the others realize that that person knows what he does.  Love isn't interested in showing off its knowledge.  Love is interested in making that knowledge productive in other's lives.