"What is this babbler trying to say?" Acts 17:18

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Music: Sing or Listen?

“Does God intend us to merely listen to music--or to sing ourselves?

Theologian T.M. Moore answers this question in an article he wrote for BreakPoint Online called “Whatever Happened to Singing?” Its curious, Moore writes, that Scripture gives us no specific guidance in how to listen to music. Music, according to the Bible, is not the spectator sport we have made it to be. Instead, we find many commands to sing.” --Chuck Colson (1)

“But if we look at the progress of our scientific civilization we see a gradual increase everywhere of the specialist over the popular function. Once men sang together round a table in chorus; now one man sings alone, for the absurd reason that he can sing better. If scientific civilization goes on (which is most improbable) only one man will laugh, because he can laugh better than the rest.” --G.K. Chesterton (2)
So should we sing more and listen less? It's an interesting idea I thought I'd pass along. Approaching the subject from a secular and somewhat different angle, Allan Bloom has this harsh criticism to add:
“As long as they have the Walkman [ipod!] on, they cannot hear what the great tradition has to say. And, after its prolonged use, when they take it off, they find they are deaf.” (3)
The developed argument for singing more can be found at
http://www.breakpoint.org/features-columns/archive/1067-whatever-happened-to-singing. I'm not saying listening to music is wrong or saying ipods should be burned, but even on the surface it is obvious that half-listening while preoccupied engages neither the mind nor the emotions; it stirs neither man's reason nor his passions.

(1) Chuck Colson http://www.breakpoint.org/commentaries/11759-how-good-it-is-to-thank-the-lord

(2) As quoted in Thomas C. Peters, The Christan Imagination: G.K. Chesterton on the Arts. San Franscisco, Ignatius Press, 2000. pg. 89-90

(3) Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, New York. A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster inc. 1988. pg. 81.

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