Contrary to the complaints and criticisms of many, especially of many Christians, most of whom I am willing to grant complain and criticize in good faith, contemporary music in all its different expressions and modes, when done well, is poetry set to music. You see, it's as much about the lyrics and feel of a song as it is about anything. The contempt and scorn that is often poured on contemporary music veers into the realm of ironic humor when even the most formal and staid critics invoke Nietzsche, seeking to dismiss the vast realm of contemporary music as so much hedonistic Dionysianism. Unless you're as fragile and precious as Nietzsche, whose closest known rival in this regard was probably J.D. Salinger, all I can say is, "Gimme a break. Relax and listen."
Being married to a music theorist and classically-trained pianist keeps me on my toes as far as music is concerned. I've enjoyed broadening my musical horizons and interests the past few decades. Serving at a cathedral church for nearly two decades also aided in deepening and broadening my musical education. I think she has grown not only to tolerate, but even appreciate, some of the music that moves me.
As proof of the poetic power of good contemporary music, I offer INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart."
My wife and I will be married 23 years this Sunday. So a beautiful love song seems fitting for our very late Friday traditio this week. And so, the late Joe Cocker singing INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart," is our very late Friday traditio. I offer an apology, but only by way of explanation and not contrition, for not posting yesterday because, due to the fact I am leaving on our anniversary for 3 weeks, for my first doctoral residency, we celebrated last night.
When I consider all the ups and downs, the good times and bad, the sickness and health, none of which we foresaw on the day we stood before the altar of God and pledged our troth to each other, I can say that "they can never tear us apart." Centrifugal force pulls you together in the middle. Centrifugal force is how I think God's grace works in marriage- pulling us towards that mysterious center of love who is three and yet one. Driving home from our supper out last night, we discussed raising our children, the ups and downs, the elation and disappointment, the joys and fears. Paradoxically, life is good because it is sometimes bad.
If you can't cope with paradox and the ambiguity it produces it's impossible to remain a Christian. Paradox is love's close companion. Love is the heart of reality, which is why love cannot be reduced to a sickeningly sweet sentimentalism. Love costs you everything and then some because it's God drawing you to himself, changing you, transforming you into who you were created and redeemed to be; the technical name for this is sanctification. This is what Christ on the Cross means to me. I also believe it's why the earth spins at approximately 1,000 miles-per-hour.
I do not write this from a sentimental well of false humility- being married to me must be excruciating. More than twenty-three years ago our two worlds collided. They've been colliding ever since. I hope, as opposed to wishing, that one day, by the grace of God, our two worlds can enter a perfect, harmonious orbit. In the meantime, we continue to joyfully make our way together through this valley of tears:
We could live/For a thousand years/But if I hurt you/I'd make wine from your tears