Monday, September 7, 2009

Heaven is a Halfpipe, or, What we can learn about religion from popular music

"Now heaven would be a DJ, spinnin' dub all night long,
And heaven would be just kickin' back, with Jesus packing my bong;
And if you don't believe in Jesus, then Mohammed or Buddha, too..."

Some of you may remember this catchy OPM tune. Perhaps you didn't really think about the lyrics at the time, or, if you did, it pertained to a disdain for "the Man" and nothing more (I admit that was true for me!). But there's more to it than that, and even more than the lyrics would superficially indicate.
Aside from the obvious "up yours" aimed at the, well, traditional view of heaven, there is also the inclusiveness that many of the younger generations have embraced: "so if you want to come to my heaven, well, we're all going to have a ball, and everyone is welcome, 'cause we've got no gates or walls." It isn't veiled or subtle, but it's there. Everyone is welcome. Even "the Man."

My Dad was listening to his new Eagles album. As I listened, too, I had a stark realization. Every song spoke of God. Every single song. "They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast," they sang. "Love will keep us alive," they sang. "You can see the stars and still not see the light," they sang. "Learn to be still," they sang. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray." Tears came to my eyes as I heard "we chased after all the wrong gods." It was as though the strains of music grabbed a hold of my heart and squeezed. "People who live for years in the dark." The Spirit speaks. "Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?" The Spirit shouts. "I know that somebody, someday, will chase these dark clouds away." As we all live and breathe, God is in the world, and in us.

The Logos, known elsewhere under different names, "passes out of eternity into time for no other purpose than to assist the beings, whose bodily form he takes, to pass out of time into eternity," explained Huxley. God comes into the world in some form in order to bring us out of it, and, in the mean time, in order to make us images of himself within the temporal realm. Whether or not this has happened once or many times is debatable, and something over which Eastern and Western religions differ. The end goal, however, is the same: "If the Avatar's appearance upon the stage of history is enormously important, this is due to the fact that by his teaching he points out, and by his being a channel of grace and divine power he actually is, the means by which human beings may transcend the limitations of history," as Huxley stated.

And all this, just from a few simple lines in a song.

1 comment:

  1. I do like the Eagles for this reason. And a lot of other rock bands. I am glad that I am not the only one who discover this. Thank you.


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