Monday, January 9, 2012

Honestly Listening

Well, I'm glad to discover that I still love classical music.

I know, I know, who cares, right?  But when you start being objective and honest after years of dishonesty, there's a lot of baggage to unpack.  And sometimes you aren't sure what to throw away and what to repack.

I discovered another layer in the process of recovering from Fundamentalism this past Christmas.  It had been a year since I had heard some of the things on my holiday playlist; within that year I also had several months of practice listening to whatever I personally found good rather than filtering it through what was expected of me first.  So when Christmas selections from my previous life were brought to my attention again, I was struck very clearly with an important realization.

I have a great deal of no-better-than-mediocre music in my collection that is there for no other reason than that it was acceptable to someone else.

How is that even appropriate? For anything?  To make choices, even about inconsequential things, not because it's what I feel is right - but because if some unnamed person out there happened to know about it, they would be ok with it?  Seriously?  Is that not the very definition of "the fear of man"?

Anyway, back to classical music.  I was getting tired of the local country music station (while fun, it can be repetitive and have too many dysfunctional relationships for daily consumption) and the rock station (too many songs I either don't know or know so well I'm tired of them. Also dysfunction.).  So I wandered over to the classical station, which used to be my old standby.

And why was it the standby?

Because every preacher at every teen camp and college revival/opening service meetings harped on what your car radio presets said about you.  The unspoken (or sometimes blatant) intimation was that the preacher or someone from church wouldn't approve, though the ostensible reason was that someone unsaved would find it a "bad testimony". 

(Like someone unsaved would care a lick about what music you listen to. I promise you, my dear Fundy readers, nobody worries about what music you listen to outside of your very narrow segment of Christianity.  NOBODY.  It's not even on the radar.)

So, my conscience being weak, I kept it on a station that someone else approved of.  For years.

This is what Fundamentalism does to you.  You are taught that innocent choices are not innocent.  You are taught to live by what The Group thinks is right about a great many very minor things.  And before you know it, you cannot differentiate between right and wrong anymore, there is only "acceptable" and "unacceptable" to The Group.  You clearly cannot trust your own conscience because it has failed you before - for how could your conscience condemn you on something innocent?  It's a cleverly diabolical system.

Now, where was I?  Oh yes, the classical music station.  I almost rolled my eyes at myself when I went back to it.  But once I assured my eye-rolling self that I was doing it because I wanted to listen rather than because of some nameless Group decision, I was free to be honest again.

My honesty was rewarded by Vaughn Williams' "The Lark Ascending".  Played by Hillary Hahn.  If that doesn't move your soul, I am afraid that you're dead.  I listened with ears unfettered by anyone's expectations but mine; I re-awoke to the sublime. And it was glorious.

Ironically, I now usually leave the radio on the classical station.  Because it's just good music.  It feeds my soul.  It isn't the only music that does, but it's what I need right now.  And that's the honest truth. 

Though I just heard about a new rock station in town that I might have to try...


  1. Your munchkin was exposed to country music often during that first year. :) It's mostly what I listen to since I'm just a farm girl from rural Indiana. :)
    I think I was born with a "whatever" gene. I went to a fundamentalist Christian school, a fundamentalist Baptist church and a fundamentalist Christian college. While at school or church, I listened to the acceptable music. And I honestly didn't dislike it. But on my own time and in my own home I listened to whatever I wanted. When they would give the lectures, sermons, etc. about why (insert music type) was wrong, I listened politely but in my head I was thinking "whatever." And that was my reaction to a lot of the things that they tried to convince me of. I could read as well as they could and I didn't always agree with what they thought they saw in Scripture. (or wanted to see). I also have a mother with a "whatever" gene who was of the belief that I should respect authority and when in their care I should follow the rules. But they were just rules, like any other school or employer would have. Not doctrine. I had to live with them while I was there. I didn't have to live my life by them when I wasn't.
    I think that "whatever" gene saved me a lot of pain and confusion as I got older. I have made corrections to false beliefs that I held and I'm sure there are more corrections to be made. I hope that God will continue to grant me discernment when that's what I'm truly seeking and mercy when I blindly hold to something I have not personally searched His truth about.

  2. I'm glad you mentioned the "respect authority" and "follow their rules" idea. I've been stewing over a blog post about that concept recently and hope to get it up soon.