In 2001, Dreamworks produced Shrek, a computer-animated anti-fairy tale that has established itself as highly quotable must-have for any DVD collection. Now, I don’t have a problem with Shrek as a stroke of comedic genius or with Shrek as a cynical, sarcastic, but soft-hearted ogre. I certainly don’t have a problem with the celebration of inner beauty that is the main theme of the movie. I have watched it a number of times(and am coming back around to it with my kids), always delighting in that little quip that I missed before, always having my heart warmed by the story, but always feeling a little dissatisfied when the credits roll.
My freshman fall at Furman university, I sat in Introduction to Biblical Literature, a historical-critical look at the Bible, and I began to sweat. The professor, a graduate of Harvard Divinity and an ordained Methodist minister, was spouting claims about the Bible that I had never encountered from such an authority figure. She treated it as a myth, dismissed the miracles through alternate explanations, and made Jesus out to be a great teacher, but little more than that. She attacked supposed contradictions and, intentionally or unintentionally, sought to wear away her students’ foundational trust in the Bible.
“Music is God's gift to man, the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven.”
Easy, Walt. I wouldn’t go that far. But when someone tells me that they have been in a spiritual/emotional funk, mired in a case of the “blahs,” one of the first remedies I suggest(in concert with the classic spiritual disciplines) is a heavy dose of music. The reason I do this is that the “blahs” are often the result of a mundane sense of the world, when life has lost its color. Music, when used well, is a reality enhancer. It tears the drab veil off a world that is full of power and meaning.
I frequently find myself in conversations in which Christian students are considering their commitment to ministering to others. The card they play in order to avoid such commitment is frequently, “I have to remember that I’m a student first.” Maybe Mom and Dad have so drilled it in that it’s the default response. Maybe on move-in day, as Johnny Freshman shut the car door for the last time, Mr. or Mrs. Freshman whispered profoundly, like Tom Hanks’ “Earn this” from Saving Private Ryan, “Remember, Johnny. You’re a student first.” Maybe it’s just a noble-sounding way to live out a self-centered existence. Whatever it is, it’s not true for the follower of Christ.
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