290) Rock (and Roll) of Ages

        I feel sorry for kids these days– and by kids I mean anyone younger than 50 years old.  I feel sorry for them because they missed out on all the best music.  These poor kids did not get the chance to grow up with great music like we more fortunate Baby Boomers.  When we were young, terrific songs were coming out all the time by the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Chicago, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Three Dog Night, the Rolling Stones, and so many more– all at once for about a dozen years in the 1960’s and early 70’s.  We didn’t even need to buy the music.  Everything on the radio was great.

     Not only do I feel sorry for the kids, I also feel sorry for the Baby Boomers (those born 1946-1965) because the 60’s were a long time ago, and we are getting old.  Even though we grew up with the best music a kid could want, we aren’t kids anymore.  Many of the Boomers, therefore, are now doing some serious thinking about life and death and what God says about what comes next.  When the body starts to wear out, one does start to think about the soul a little more.  

     A couple of years ago I did a seminar at my church called Rock (and Roll) of Ages.  This is what I put in the church bulletin to announce it:

THE GOSPEL FOR BABY BOOMERS

     Are you feeling like you just “can’t get no satisfaction?”  Does it seem sometimes that people are treating you like “nothin’ but a hound dog?”  Does it look as if there might be a “bad moon rising” in your life?  This day might be just what you need to “soothe your soul” so you can start “feelin’ groovy” again.  Come and “reminisce about the days of old with some old time rock and roll.”  Each session will begin with a song from the 60’s or 70’s.  Pastor Leon (an aging Baby Boomer himself) will then use the lyrics from that song to reflect on what the Bible says about the “Spirit in the sky” (our ‘Rock of Ages’); and why you “gotta have a friend in Jesus,” so that “when you die, and they lay you to rest, you can go to the place that’s the best.”  In other words, the music will serve as a springboard into a somewhat off-the-wall look at what it means to believe in Jesus, both for now and for ever.  (NOTE to youngsters:  “words in quotes” are lyrics from old songs.)
     The style of music will probably appeal more to Boomers than to other age groups; but if you are younger, come and see what you missed; and if you are older, you can learn something about the music your kids were always playing way too loud.  It is hoped that everyone will get new insights into how the Gospel of Jesus Christ meets the needs and longings expressed in this music.  There are great lines in some of these old songs, words you may have missed back then.  I’ll play the songs, and then we’ll discuss how the Bible speaks to the questions raised.  Even if you aren’t into Classic Rock, our look at these songs will illustrate a way of listening to and thinking about all kinds of music in light of our faith.

     Over the next few weeks, several of the EmailMeditations will be taken from that seminar.  I will also do a few other meditations based on other kinds of music, along with continuing the usual hodgepodge of meditations from a wide variety of other sources.  Lyrics for each song will be printed in the meditation, along with providing links to music videos whenever possible.

     Music, like nothing else, has a way of getting not only into your ears, but also into your head and into your heart.  It can influence, even determine, what you believe, and we need to be very careful about that.  There are many types of music, and we can’t look at everything.  Classic Rock is the music I know something about, and it will help me say what I want to say.  And then, I hope, these meditations can serve to help you learn how to listen to whatever kind of music you like, and discern the what is true and what is not true, and what may be harmful to your soul.  We can then still enjoy the music, while at the same time disregarding (or affirming) its message.

     One more thing must be said.  Even though that ‘old time rock and roll’ was in many ways just great, the 1960’s did a lot of damage to our culture, and the music contributed.  So to talk about how wonderful the music was back then makes me more than a little uneasy, because a lot of those songs did much to unravel the fabric of our society and worse yet, to undermine our Christian faith.  Many of the lyrics reflected a morality far removed from the teachings of Jesus, and the rockers themselves were usually not very good role models.  A lot of the songs were way too positive on drugs, sex, and irresponsibility; and way too negative on the USA, authority, and religion.  The tunes were often great, the words often were not, and the overall ‘drugs, sex, and rock and roll’ scene was a mess.  But the music could still be very good at raising the big questions of life; for example, questions like ‘why can’t I get no satisfaction?’  The songs were good at pointing out the emptiness of not only the lives of the writer’s parents, but also their own lives; and, the despair of life without God, even if they seldom acknowledged that was their problem.  And sometimes– not very often– but sometimes, the music even pointed to the answer.  It did this all in a fun, entertaining way, and it became so influential was because it was so very good.  And of course, a lot of the music wasn’t at all wicked, but just plain fun.  We do, however, always need to listen with a critical ear.

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 Job 34:3-4  —  For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food.  Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.

 Romans 12:2  —  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Philippians 4:8  —  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

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Save us, Lord, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.  Amen.  –Roman Breviary