Thursday, June 21, 2012

did you ever fly a kite in bed?

"These things are fun, and fun is good."

Dr. Seuss says it best. Fun is good. The thing about fun is that you can't force it. You can't create something to be fun, and it's sole function is to be fun. Because that's shallow. And kind of really boring. Just as something that's designed to be comforting, and solely comforting; or deep and solely deep; ends up banal and dull, fun is meaningless unless it has meaning.

That's why babies don't like baby toys. Infants are brilliant beings. They would rather create rhythms on pots and pans as makeshift drums than play with the silly bright pieces of plastic that toy manufacturers and marketers have decided their supposed to be interested in. But, if you notice, older children enjoy the baby toys. They find them interesting and fun, because they know something bigger and better than the infant toy.

Music is kind of like this. Popular music is fun. Mostly just fun. Not trying to make an artistic statement, not trying to stir up deep emotions, but mostly just to be fun. It's just trying to be fun. Pop-y church music is somewhat like this. And don't get me wrong, I enjoy both pop music (I may or may not dance around my room to One Direction, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj. It's okay. No worries, guys.) and pop-church music (Okay Canticle of the Turning, here we go. On Eagles Wings? I'm down). Because I enjoy having fun. It's good stuff. Fun is good! 

But you know what's more fun? Music that exists to awaken something deeper and greater within me. I remember the first time I found that really good music--all good music, not just good church music-- awakens in us something sterner and more splendid than just fun. It makes us more human. It awakens our souls and makes them "homesick for something they never had." And that's more fun, so much more fun than just having fun. 

Today, we sang the Divine Praises in adoration. Okay, and here's my thing about the Divine Praises: they are amazing. The music of the spheres is captured by the incredible rhythmic pulse of their phrases. I love the Divine Praises so much. But for the benediction service at the end of adoration, they were put to this rather banal melody that just made my soul sort of sob it's heart out. It cheapened the beauty of the words, and robbed them of their power. It was as if someone had tried to make Oh God Beyond All Praising more "accessible," which in this case is a synonym for bad and cheap. Oh God Beyond All Praising is the most transcendent, incandescent piece of music my ears have ever had the privilege of listening to. And you can bet your boots it's the most fun music I've ever been able to listen to. There's nothing more fun than being lifted up out of yourself through music.

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