Fourth of July was sort of a downer. Just hung around my parents house, ran to the store for them a couple times, swept off the porch, went for a run/walk. Not the most exciting day. Then we went to the DC fireworks at night. Watched from Virginia FAR AWAY and they were quiet. Oh well.
My favorite is when music makes me believe in God. I think that everyone should attempt to find God through the opposite of what comes naturally to them. In my case, I am very logically minded…I am very dependent on self-made rules to get me through most of life. For someone like me, the natural instinct would be to base my faith on thorough analysis of scripture and prophecy and science in an attempt to “prove” (or at least convince myself) of the existence of a higher power with a plan for my life. But while I do find value in gathering factual knowledge on scripture, over reliance on this path (read: Adventism most of the time) left me with a huge spiritual void. No matter how many facts I collected and supposed proofs of why Adventist (or at least Christian) doctrine was correct, there were always too many remainders for me.
I was really good at being an Adventist all through high school and into my first year or so of college. By this I mean I followed nearly all the Adventist lifestyle principles, read my Bible and EG White and took it all at its word, and was one bad advisor away from heading toward ministry. (Sidenote surprise: I graduated with a minor in religion.) But while I believed God was real, to this point in my life I had never truly FELT that way, no matter how much I told people otherwise. As my college years progressed (all five of them) and my mind filled with more and more facts and theories, I began to seriously doubt that anything I believed (or claimed to believe*) was true. And since I had never really FELT God I began to slip into some very dark spiritual nights.
(*I have another post planned because I have a lot to say on the importance of what you CLAIM to believe.)
ANYWAY (and I honestly didn’t plan on writing this enormous preface) for all my upbringing and knowledge and study, it wasn’t until near the end of my college years that I finally began to feel the presence of the spiritual world and fall in love with God. I used to occasionally tell people the story of the first night I started believing in God again and the incredible high (also I was incredibly high) that it gave me for weeks and I no longer do because the story just sounds cornier and cornier in my mind. But what I BEGAN to realize that night (and it took me years to fully get it) was that the things I KNOW about God aren’t nearly as important or moving or inspirational as the things I DON’T KNOW. All the facts I can collect to prove the existence of God (or to prove his absence) do not match up to what I feel when I look at the ocean or drive through the mountains or read something beautiful or share a moving moment with a student who I thought for months didn’t care whether I existed. The feeling is beyond explanation and I know God is telling me he is there and everything in the world is as it should be and I’ll understand it all by and by.
Music is like this for me. I know that I’ve been babbling on and on about My Morning Jacket to anyone who will listen lately but that’s mostly just because their Bonnaroo performance was nothing short of a two hour transcendent experience for me. And it was Sabbath! And I really think that Jim James and I are on sort of the same spiritual / philosophical wavelength. I thought this for a long time just listening to their music and words, but after watching their episode of VH-1 “Storytellers” I realized that he was introducing each song by saying many of the same things I think about it. So with these songs being so important to me right now (and with me really needing to get to work on some material for my upcoming devotional book) I’ve decided to publish a series of posts on spiritual thoughts inspired by MMJ songs. Maybe songs by other bands too when I get bored.
So today…I was planning on writing a few things about the song “Gideon”, but that is going to have to wait. I got WAY carried away on that intro and don’t think I can muster up what I set out to do. But the good news is…everything I wrote sets up perfectly for another My Morning Jacket song, “The Way That He Sings”. I don’t really feel like I have anything more to say about it because my intro pretty much sums it up. I’m going to post live versions of songs whenever I can get something HQ because I think much of My Morning Jacket’s power is found in live performances.
why’s it so strange when they say that the world’s movin upwards?
Why’s it surreal when my hands feel they cant roll the dice?
Why’s it so great just to wake every day, alive and by your side.
It’s a mystery I guess, there’s lots of things I cant find.
Its not the way that you look, but your move that catches my eye.
Why’s it so soft when the cannons unload on the others?
Why’re we so loud when we say it wont happen to us?
Why does my mind blow to bits every time they play that song?
It’s just the way that he sings,
not the words that he says, or the band.
Im in love with this soul, it’s a meaning that I understand.