My students are confused about why they love sports. I have asked and they have told me plainly, "Basketball is fun." But this is incorrect. Django Reinhardt is fun. Parties with punch and dancing are fun. Basketball video games are fun. Basketball is not fun, though. Basketball is divine and soccer is godly.
Walker Percy, in an article entitled, "Questions They Never Asked Me", wrote:
Music is such an obvious element of life that we may take its existence for granted. It’s not that we don’t think about music; perhaps it’s that we think about it too much—but in the wrong ways. We treat music as a commodity, a means of fitting in with peers, a vehicle for “worship,” cultural enrichment, filler noise in the car, a way to pump up a pep rally or a workout or to set a mood. While all of these examples may have appropriate uses, the fact remains that we seldom think about music as music.
This Sunday, my fourteen-year-old son was qualified to compete in the NYC Junior High championship debate tournament. But since the event will take place on a Sunday, he declined, choosing to be at our church’s worship service instead.
My husband and I did not coerce him, and we are in no way advocating a legalistic view of the Lord’s Day. So what I took from this incident has little to do with the Sabbath and much to do with the thought and decision-making processes of a teenager.
Like most classical educators, I often find myself discussing How To Teach. This is a topic that bewilders me because of its great weight, and I used to panic and answer any queries directed to me in the same manner: “Ask somebody else. I, too, want to teach better. I only teach literature because I love books.” Over the years I have absorbed to my surprise that an insatiable love of learning in community has made me a teacher, so my advice now is, “To be a master teacher, show your students that you love what you teach.”
Several times in my life, someone has skipped the pleasantries and directly asked me, "Why don't you listen to better music?" While most of my friends listen to the same style of music as myself, I've had a few acquaintances with more refined tastes. The question left me embarrassed, for while I enjoy the intellectual work of unfolding the profundity of Kid A, the real reason I listen to pop music has little to do with my standard apologia. When asked, the Christian pop enthusiast is obliged to state his respect for the masters.
Joshua Gibbs recently authored the article, “Engaging Culture, Cloak For Mediocrity: Giving Up On Pop Music.” What follows is intended to be a response to Josh’s article, although it might be better understood as a reaction. This is because, for the most part, I agree with his conclusions. For example, Josh writes,
I am selling six hundred CDs this week, roughly a third of my collection. As career smokers do not believe a day will pass without a cigarette, as pious widows do not believe a day will pass without tears, I never believed I would see the day I parted ways with popular music. Must we all grow up? No. But we are free to grow up, and the freedom to grow up makes it enticing.
Growing up, I’ve always lived in new-built homes. First, and foggy in my memory, was a land-hugging white wooden ranch with a red front door, and a swing-set in the backyard whose ominous height prompted its nickname “The Gallows.” Later came another white wood house, this one with two stories, green shutters, and a storybookish stone fireplace warming the center of the home. Most enduring was the Georgian red brick overhung with live oaks and gray moss, whose double doors made a little girl think she was entering church.
A walk on a cool, winter afternoon can be bracing. The crisp, cool wind blowing along the street pierces straight to the bone. The extremities of your face stiffen as the chill reaches them. Green needles wave on pine branches as the wind passes through them. A single sentence passes into my mind, on this 15th day of March, “Now is the winter of our discontent.” When will it be made into a glorious summer? I ask.