Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Day The Music Died

On this day in 1959, American music icons Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. Richardson, all died with their pilot in a plane crash.

In 1971, Don McClean released his lament about that “Day the Music Died.”

His song is full of references to music and political issues of the times but the last verse is the one that always grabs my heart. He begins this verse with a word about Janis Joplin and her tragic life, but turns quickly to express the greatest loss of Western culture – the death of the three men he admires most, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The song expresses, in other words, the sense of ICHABOD (The Glory of the Lord has departed) that now haunts Western culture.

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away

I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed

But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast

The day the music died
And they were singin'

Bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my chevy to the levy
But the levy was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die

McClean aches from his loss. However, Western culture’s loss of God has a simple cause: our refusal to accept God’s instructions.

In today’s reading (One Year Bible), Proverbs 6:20 says, “My son, obey your father’s commands and don’t neglect your mother’s instructions. Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck. When you walk, their counsel will lead you.”

The “music” has died in our culture because we have abandoned the source of music. We are left with despair, discord and cacophony.

One of the things that drive people nuts when they call God “Father,” is the rules He imposes on His followers.

Many fathers have abused their role of protector, defender and provider. Many, if not most modern people, no longer believe that a father even has a right to govern a household.

The reasons for this great societal change are complex.

We have not changed our ideas about fathers because all the world’s fathers were authority-hungry, wife-beating Neanderthal beasts, as some “liberals” charge. Nor have we changed our ideas about fatherhood because all the world’s children and wives suddenly became authority-hating, free thinking anarchists as many “conservatives” charge.

Economic changes in the world system have had as much to do with our shift in ideas about fatherhood as anything else.

(Of course, covering that subject would require a book, not a blog.)

In this short reflection, I am not trying to defend the “right” of fatherhood. I am trying to understand what the Bible means when it speaks about a father’s responsibility to His house. We must understand that if we are to receive anything the Bible teaches about God as a Father.

I meet people all the time who were abused by their fathers.

The very authority I am trying to defend here has abused them.

That is sad.

A father’s authority and strength should be a great comfort to his children. Children should experience a father’s strength of character as a security. They should know He will fight for them against an intruder, give his life for them if necessary. They should know that he will never abandon them, even when life gets difficult. They should know that his rules are never given to stroke his own ego but to develop then into responsible, healthy and self-governing adults.

That is the Biblical picture of a godly father.

It is certainly the sort of father that God wants to be to us.

God’s people are a family, a very large family. This family is so large that it became a nation. The Bible speaks of both Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church this way, as a “holy nation.”

We call the father of our covenant nation – this “nation” whose God is the Lord -- king. In fact, He is the King of Kings, the Father of all fathers. St. Paul says as much in the Epistle to the Ephesians.

Furthermore, God is a loving father. However, He is not always “nice,” because “nice” is not always “good.”

God rules. He doesn’t rule because He likes to boss people around. God rules because He wants to redeem us. He wants to grow us up.

As I mentioned in my last blog, God is not a constitutional monarch; the sort of king who wears beautiful regal robes and presides over lovely ceremonies.

Our king rules His kingdom in goodness, truth and beauty. When we accept Him as our King, these qualities of His kingdom began to rule, reshape and finally transform us.

It was tragic that Buddy Holly and the others died on that plane, but the Father, Son and Holy Ghost didn’t take a train for the coast.

Every day, millions of people bow their knee and began their day be saying,

“Our Father which art in Heaven, Hollowed be Thy name.”


Anonymous said...

In order to have a civilized society, there must be a ruler.

Studies have shown that most people are reluctant to break human laws out of fear of God and out of fear of retribution – both eternally and in the present world.

John Adams once said, “The idea of an all-powerful, benevolent, supernatural sovereign of the universe is necessary to morality and civilization.”

Christians are supposed to emulate this ideal.

It seems that most people do not have a problem calling God their “ruler,” as much as they have a problem with God “ruling” over their lives.

I do not believe these concepts are mutually exclusive; thus, we cannot have one without the other.

When considering the best type of Constitution for the people of Athens, Aristotle said that “the best way of life is to set a standard that is within the reach of the ordinary people – not so high or ideal that one cannot reach.”

Based on this, our struggle to follow the Constitutions of Christ (which includes the simple task of being kind and smiling at other people) should not be all that difficult, for Jesus Himself said they are attainable.

Anonymous said...

When we are smiling at Jesus, let's not forget to smile at His creation.