I’ve been mulling for several days on a particular passage of Scripture, Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi (a town in Macedonia). He writes:
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Today, he might tell us to give up the junk food of the mind and start using our minds and hearts on something worthwhile. How sad it makes anyone who notices that we have today an incredible degree of freedom and utterly squander nearly every single bit of it.
When I study family history, I often ask such questions as, “Did my ancestors, Jacob and Hope Hayes, who were contemporaries of Beethoven, ever hear a symphony by Beethoven or a concerto by Mozart or a partita by Bach? Did they ever get to experience the sense of someone’s music filling their breast, expressing their deepest joy or longing or sorrow?” Hardly likely for them but I have multiple recordings of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and can experience it 24/7. So can you.
O, I know all the usual arguments about music being merely a matter of taste but I think not. There is a difference, an inherent difference, between Mozart and the Monkees, just as there was a difference between Joan Baez and Chubby Checkers, between Simon and Garfunkel and Elvis. (Alright, no need to point out how old I am.)
Art helps us see and particularly helps us see into reality. Those who use the tools of art – whether sound or color or clay or word – but have no insight into life, give us no vision, no understanding, no wisdom. And the one without wisdom is, well, is a fool.
A people addicted to Big Macs is physically obese. A people addicted to junk art is clogging its spiritual arteries. Paul was right. We need to dwell on that which is right and good and true. We are what we contemplate.