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Although the first six letters of “professor” makes it clear, the central duty of a professor is often misunderstood or forgotten. Professors are those with a distinctive point of view which, as experts in the field, are qualified to advocate for, argue, and teach. In other words, a professor is one who professes. In this blog, we openly express our own positions on issues in ethics, religious studies, and philosophy—our areas of expertise.

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Rock Theology
Posted on July 8, 2024 by Joel Heim0 comments 
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Please come close, for I long for you to hear

Hear the sound. . .

In an age, when the music is forgotten.

Music is an art form as old as time and as young as the present. It expresses emotions from despair to joy at both the communal and personal levels. However, what if music did not exist? What would the world be like without music? Try to image:

  • No singing along with the car radio.
  • No dancing to the music at proms, weddings, or clubs.
  • No songs to claim as "our song."
  • No hymns to sing in worship.
  • No concerts to attend.
  • No national anthems to sing at athletic events.
  • No marching bands or bands of any kind.
  • No stereo systems or streaming devices in our homes or on our phones.

If we were to survey people about the importance of music in their lives, we would likely get various responses across the spectrum from "very important" to "not important." However, I would question those claiming that music is not important to them. While most do not stop and think about it, music is integral to life. Music is a universal language. It has the power to move, to persuade, and to inform. While music provides enjoyment, music is vital to humans because it gives meaning. Music transcends different cultures, providing a common language for communication. Music reduces stress, induces sleep, and increases empathy.

The folk/country-rock group Deadman captures the depth of what the loss of music would mean to us and also the hope for its recovery with their song When The Music's Not Forgotten:

Please come close, for I long for you to hear
Hear the sound
That will rid you of your fears
In a land, where no water can be found
In a place, where there is no fertile ground
Longing for, yearning not to be forgotten
In an age, when the music is forgotten

A world where music is forgotten would hardly be a human world. We associate music with the most important events in our lives. Movies have soundtracks, but so do our lives. The soundtrack of our lives may not be as continual as those in the movies. Still, the music in our lives emphasizes and magnifies our life's events from birth where lullabies are sung, to death where hymns are sung. A meaningful human world is one where music is not forgotten.

In a dream
That I had not long ago
Visions of
of a city made of gold
And a sound
That I never heard before
Such a sound
Saturating to the core
Such a sound
One that cannot be forgotten
In a time
When the music's not forgotten

Music is essential to me. Music speaks to my innermost thoughts, even to my soul. Listening to music is often a spiritual practice for me. As I have listened over the years, I have discovered there is a reason for my deep experience with music. I have uncovered that there are often hidden lessons in popular music.

Music

For some time, I have been creating a playlist titled "Rock Theology." It contains songs from artists who do not self-identify as religious yet whose lyrics contain religious/spiritual/theological/philosophical themes. I have been amazed at the amount of popular music that explores such themes. It is no wonder I have been spiritually fed and challenged as I have listened to such music. This is especially the case when I take the time to listen to the lyrics carefully. Within some popular music is a place where spirituality meets culture.

In this regard, I plan to create a series of posts that I will call Rock Theology. It will explore popular music's theological and philosophical themes. I am creating Rock Theology because I want to explore what is contained in these songs that catch my interest and because I suspect many people are likewise interested in these songs that explore the intersections of the secular and the sacred. Rock Theology will provide thought-provoking perspectives on the importance of music in our lives.

It is not that I dislike religious music; it can move me in worship. However, even though Contemporary Christian music can be infectious, I often find its theology shallow. More traditional hymns tend to be more theologically sophisticated; however, their lyrics usually already fit with my beliefs and, therefore, do not cause me to think or question.

Rock Theology

Rock Theology will not be where you are preached at, but instead, where you might find some insights. It will be an exploration of the theological and philosophical content contained in the lyrics of popular music. Rock Theology will be a place to explore, ponder, and reflect. It will seek to be a place to contemplate, debate, and draw some lessons.

In his song Highway Boys, country singer Zach Bryan proclaims he will do his "best to keep truth in songs." I believe that truth is in songs. I hope you will join me in this journey of Rock Theology.

Discussion Encouraged

We encourage a civil discussion on the subject of this post whether you support or opposed the ideas of the post. However, all discussion submissions will be reviewed before they appear below. Please review our "Blog Comments Policy" before submitting a comment.

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