Friday, 11 October 2013

Scripture Through the Lens of the iPod

I know, it is Friday and the pratt from Whitton starts a diatribe about the Bible of all things. My blog; my rules.

Compare these three lists, if you will:

1. Requiem, Faure: "Agnus Dei"
2. Death Magnetic, Metallica: "That Was Just Your Life"
3. Hellbilly Deluxe 2, Rob Zombie: "Jesus Frankenstein"
4. Hypnotize, System of a Down: "Dreaming"
5. Hit, Peter Gabriel: "Steam"

And then:

Isaiah: 42 v 6
Psalms: 139 v 14
1 Corinthians: 13 v 8
Ecclesiastes: 3 v 1
Psalms: 132 v 1

And then:

Breakfast - Alpen: raisins
Lunch - Bacon sandwich: bacon
Dinner - Corn on the cob: the melted butter running up my arm

No, I haven's (quite) lost my mental faculties [that is next week]. As I walked the Dog of All Evil (aka The Mutt Mostly Malevolent or the Canine Concealing of Culpability) I did as I often do and plugged in my gadget of choice and listed to my music of preference. Except that at one point I had a dog on a lead and in the other a bag of warm-yet-stinky guano "du chien". This meant that I couldn't do that which the iPod allows, and to quickly nudge past a less preferred track to a more preferred one. The first of the three lists is the top five played tracks on my iPod (and for which I beg your forgiveness). The poo-bag caused to me listen to tracks on my iPod that I would ordinarily skip past.

As I wandered with the hairy bitch, I asked myself when it was that I last listed to an entire album of music as recorded by a whole single recording artist. An age, my friend. Not since the extinction of the dinosaurs I think. I therefore have a list of preferred songs and not preferred albums. This is fine but it is my opinion that a whole complete album has a flavour, a journey, a story, a beginning and an end - and they are journeys that I miss and many others do too. In so-doing, I become a person who listens to a narrower and narrower selection of the thousands of songs and things that I have stored so that I am in fast danger of listening to the same twenty or thirty tracks over and over again. So I stopped in my tracks and played an entire album that accompanied me for the rest of my walk. I took the first on offer which happened to be "Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler, and I remembered that which I had forgotten - that I loved the album as a whole.

You may well be able to guess where this is going. The second list is my top five verses from the Bible (the last one because it makes me smile, nothing more). I wonder if we don't always do with the Bible what I do with my iPod, and it may not be our fault, entirely. Many of us own those editions of the Bible that colour lumps of text for specific focus, and many of us are subject to a Lectionary which tells us what to read when. It's great because we get the highlights, the kernal, the epicentre of truths - but if we treated the Bible like that all the time, we fall into the trap of eating our meals in the style of my third list. I love the muesli Alpen and I love raisins but I would find little pleasure in a bowl of raisins. I live and die for a bacon sandwich but feel confident that I would turn my nose up at a bowl of bacon. I think it is fair to say that a corn on the cob a bowl of melted butter does not make. You get the idea. 

With the bible as with my iPod - how much do we miss by homing in on the favourite bits? How few challenges do we miss by relying on the instant fix of the "hit" which we know comes with the preferred rhythm or cadence. Have we missed the haunting instrumental that may go on a bit, or the tough experimental track that breaks free of the bonds of accepted style? I cannot remember the last time that I read a book of the bible from start to end, because I receive my biblical meals in bite-sized flavoursome morsels. So it is that my bible is shrinking faster than the ice-caps and in the end will comprise fewer and fewer words of wisdom and meaning, and I sense that the food I need is not that which I always reach for. 

1 comment:

  1. In the days when I had a proper job I had a colleague who was an avid collector of military music. He collected this stuff on vinyl (remember that) and owned some seriously expensive and up-market equipment for the playing of. Every evening he sat himself down, fired up his electronic overdraft, and listened to a selection of his music. Being a bit OCD he listened to it in accordance with a pre-determined plan (yes, surprisingly he did, and still does, have a wife!). One morning he was a bit sad when talking about his music and when I asked why, he said that, given a normal 3-score years and ten (plus a bit) life span and the amount of music he had amassed, divided by the amount he could hear in an evening, he would never again get to hear the favourite piece he had listened to the previous evening. (I managed to stop myself from hitting him very hard!)

    It's a bit the same with your Bible reading business. Do you really want to miss out on 1 Corinthians 13 just because there's a bit hidden in the darkest depths of Deuteronomy that you ought to be reading instead? I think not!

    If I start at Genesis 1.1 now, today, I will probably not get to Revelations and I'll never find out about Armageddon or all those lovely angels and their covered feet before I die (which could be of boredom somewhere around Deuteronomy!).

    What to do, dear Father, what to do?



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