Moore: Some kind of wonderful
After 15 months of writing “God and Coffee,” I think it’s time to move on to a new metaphor. For that, I turn to another great love and source of endless trivia embedded in my subconscious. I speak, with all due reverence, of classic rock ‘n’ roll.
My love affair with rock music started in 1976 with Boston’s first album, “Boston.” I can remember working tirelessly to nail the drumbeat of the intro into “Long Time.” Anybody else out there? Can I get a witness?
Trivia time: “Can I get a witness” is from “Some Kind of Wonderful,” made famous to my generation by Grand Funk Railroad but originally recorded in 1967 by Soul Brothers Six. “Some Kind of Wonderful” has been recorded by dozens of artists, making it one of the most recorded songs in the rock ‘n’ roll era. Pretty cool.
Growing up in a conservative Christian family in Texas, rock music was frowned upon, which put me in a pickle. I still wince at how much grief I probably gave my parents as that first Boston album gave way to a full-on obsession with rock ‘n’ roll that quickly spread into the genres of progressive rock, metal, and pretty much anything that featured a highly amplified electric guitar.
Being a child of the ’70s and ’80s, my favorite bands were Rush, Yes, and Pink Floyd, along with plenty of metal bands. In high school, my friends and I had an ongoing contest of who could memorize the most Rush and Floyd lyrics. You can imagine my horror when my church took us to an anti-rock conference where I was told that pretty much all my favorite music was of the devil, chief among them Rush and Pink Floyd.
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I didn’t buy it. Meanwhile, my obsession with Rush led me to the works of Ayn Rand, the 20th-century agnostic philosopher. Best known for her books “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” Rush’s lyricist and drummer Neil Peart credited Rand as the inspiration for his own outlook and writing. Being a disciple of Ayn Rand didn’t exactly lead me closer to God.
There’s no question some of the music I grew up with contained morally questionable lyrics and a highly humanistic worldview. I found myself wrestling with the tension between my sincere faith in Jesus Christ and the music I loved that I was told dishonored God. What’s a young Christian metalhead to do?
I don’t listen to everything I once did. I’m a rough work in progress, but God has my heart and some things that once didn’t bother me now do. That said, I’m still a fan of classic rock and by God’s Grace I can now put words to what my teenage mind couldn’t express.
Music is an expression of the heart of God. Like many, I believe God is the creator of all things, meaning he is the creator of music in all its forms. Not all its content, but its forms.
When Handel composed “The Messiah” in 1741, he was expressing the heart of God. When Pete Townshend wrote “Who Are You” in 1978, he too was expressing a gift of God, although he probably wouldn’t have said that. And when I sat in the back row of Reunion Arena on a Dallas night in 1982, watching Steven Tyler of Aerosmith scream out the chorus to “Dream On,” that too would have been impossible without the gift of music from the goodness of God.
What I’m saying is that even if a person uses music to deny God or denigrate people, they can’t escape the reality that the vehicle for their denial still comes from God himself. That’s what my worldview as a follower of Christ teaches me.
Music is powerful because it comes from God. My favorite musician is an obscure progressive rock artist who is a follower of Jesus and records 30-minute theological rock-epics. It’s awesome. I can’t get enough of his stuff, but the sounds and rhythms he combines flow from the same deep heart of the creative God whose gift of music blesses those who call upon him and those who don’t.
In the coming year, I hope to write about this God in whom I trust, and how I see glimpses of his nature and goodness in the broad vista that is classic rock and roll. Even if you don’t share my love of God, perhaps you share my love of music. Let’s grab a cup of coffee — you can tell me about your favorite music, and I’ll tell you why I’m convinced God is some kind of wonderful. Rock on.
Ethan Moore is the pastor of Trinity Church in Edwards. He and his wife Lisa have lived in the valley since 1995. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.