Moore: What’s on your playlist for 2021?
Happy New Year everyone!
Well, we have crossed the historically arbitrary line separating one year from another and 2020 is finally in the rear-view mirror. And there was much rejoicing! Yaaaaaay! (Bonus points if you got that movie reference).
The Who’s 1971 classic “Won’t Get Fooled Again” ends with the line “Meet the new boss — same as the old boss.” I’m really hoping this New Year won’t be the same as the old year. Like you, I have many hopes, plans, and thoughts about what 2021 may bring. Right now, however, I honestly feel worn out. Anybody with me?
A common objection to Christianity is the question: “Why believe in a good and loving God when there is so much pain, suffering, injustice, and heartbreak in the world?” 2020 undoubtedly brought that question to the mind of many, and it is a good question. I’m always up for the conversation, but there’s a flip side to that objection I would like to explore right now.
If human suffering argues (for some) against the reality of a loving God, does the presence of human goodness argue positively for the reality of a loving God? That’s a big generalization, but bear with me. Are there things — good things, things that bring joy, hope, and pleasure — common to the human experience that are hard to explain apart from their being a reflection of the nature of a good and loving creator?
I don’t mean to dive into an ontological argument about the existence of God. Rather, my point is as we face a new year with untold challenges, it is all too easy for our outlook to be negative while there is great cause for our outlook to be one of hope and joy.
I’m not talking about some rainbows and unicorns wishing that everything will be peachy and keen, or foolishly ignoring the very real issues facing our society. Rather, think of the sources of hope and joy always available to us, even when circumstances are just plain hard. As a follower of Christ, I believe these sources of hope and joy are reflective of the heart of God. There are many examples, but let’s look at just one.
Music! Especially classic rock, with screaming guitars and crashing drums (OK, I’m biased). It’s interesting that while there are huge ranges of tastes and preferences in music, the power of music is universal. Why is it that both Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Mark Knopfler’s guitar solo from “Sultans of Swing” both bring me to tears? Can I get a witness?
Why does the combination of notes known as a “flattened fifth” almost universally bring a feeling of suspense and foreboding? So much so that the “devil’s interval,” as it is sometimes called, is said to have been forbidden for composers in medieval Europe. It’s also a favorite chord for heavy metal guitarists, which means I’m a fan.
On the other hand, some chord progressions are universally uplifting and happy. I was never big into Michael Jackson but who can’t smile and tap their foot just a bit with the opening sequence of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back?” If that draws a blank, it’s the song closing out the first “Guardians of the Galaxy,” as the newly potted Baby Groot dances when Drax isn’t looking. If that draws a blank, well then, I can’t help you.
Here’s my point. Whatever your outlook on God, faith, and the new year before us, don’t miss the small and powerful joys we all hold in common. Build that playlist of music that makes you smile. Who knows, maybe the first tune is Chicago’s “Make Me Smile.” When I’m about to pull my graying hair out in frustration, Bozz Scagg’s “Lido Shuffle” always warms my heart, and REO Speedwagon’s “Roll With The Changes” is powerful medicine. What’s on your playlist?
As a follower of Christ I’m convinced these simple joys are indeed a glimpse of the infinite heart of a good and loving God who invites us to know him. There’s much I don’t understand (trust me), and nowhere does the New Testament teach that faith in God will remove difficult circumstances. But in the midst of life as it really is, I’m learning to trust this same God who created the gift of music. As Eddie Murphy’s Donkey belts out at the end of “Shrek,” “I’m a believer.”
Whatever you believe, I’m always open for that cup of coffee. And, lest I forget … 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 email@example.com.
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