Saturday, June 14, 2008

Another Blast From The Past

Life, at times, is quite a dynamic conglomerate of emotions that occupy our psyches. There are myriad of emotions that some of us experience from time to time. I have this one that combines a reflective melancholy that sometimes borders on the cynical. This weekend's featured artist is a group that has many times provided me some valuable material for rumination and contemplation, some of it theological, some of it not.

Like Job of the Old Testament, everyone that truly believes in God has (at least at some point) had some questions for Him, when certain faith testing situations arise in their lives. When I first heard the band Jethro Tull, I heard some lyrics that questioned the conventional wisdom of the hows and whys of God's existence and His objectives for the human race.

Ian Anderson, lead singer and writer of the lion's share of Tull songs, must have been raised in the Church of England which has many similar rites and ceremonies similar to the Roman Catholic Church. From the prose in this first song, I can tell he wasn't impressed with the requirements he felt were unfairly placed on him by his church and is starkly evident that the faith of his fathers did not completely fulfill his needs. What follows is a description of the state of his church at the time of his childhood and hunger and thirst for truth and meaning,based on that unfilled need.
Here are the lyrics and here is the song (from the Aqualung album), My God:

After the question(s), later in this same album, it appeared Ian was able to reason out a great portion of the answer(s) he was seeking. Sometimes it comes suddenly as a revelation, other times it is a gradual evolution of thinking. In this next song, he shares the answer to the questions he poses in the previous song and those at the beginning of this one. Personally, I think this is the best Tull song ever. Here are the lyrics and here is the song, Wind Up:

Not all of Tull's music painted a dark cynical world. Much of it was well written and composed after Ian was able to use his internal theological conflicts to make some reasonable sense of his own life and the meaning that it contained. The music of the band always had an English style to it and nothing paints a more vivid imagery than that of a minstrel playing in a gallery. It is such a simple topic, but it tells me that simple is sometimes good and meaning can be found in the little things that go together to make up a life. Here is Minstrel in Gallery:

Sometimes you can find enough intrinsic meaning in life that you can learn to recognize both the fragility of life and still enjoy the little moments that come with it. This next tune is a very different one from the first one featured, in that it does just this. Here is a very pleasant sounding live version of Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of New Day:

Ian must have had some remarkable insight, as he demonstrates in the final tune. Most everyone is forced to come to grips with their own mortality, at some point in our lives (that is, if we live long enough). Some do it sooner than others, but as we do it, there is a certain peace that comes with accepting the inevitable. And being a baby boomer, my generation (if they are developing according to Erickson's model of growth and development) has had ample opportunity to pass this developmental task by now.

By taking this subject on head on, I have been able to learn that generativity is preferable to self-absorption, integrity is preferable to despair. With that knowledge comes an understanding of how to live longer, more prosperous, and happier. Here is Too Old To Rock And Roll:

Enjoy this, enjoy your lives. Be safe.

- I apologize if this comes across as a bit darker than most Another Blast From The Past posts. 30 years ago this past March, I came to grips with my own mortality when I came home on emergency leave from the Army, to attend my 16-year old brother's funeral. The sudden passing of people that I both know and know of, serves a reminder of that day and it gives me cause to think and be aware of the sadness that others feel when they lose someone. Tim Russert's passing has been that sometimes tripped trigger, for this time.

But that's not all. As I have come to my own personal conclusions and found my peace within them, I also remember the principle theory of living life to the fullest extent, each and every day. I remember and I am thankful to be here, thankful to have the opportunity to ponder these things and share them with you.

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