Tag Archive: spirituality


The House That Rock Built

Last week I took a vacation to the Lake Erie area, in the vineyards of Geneva, OH. My vacation spot being only an hour away from Cleveland, I of course took a trip to the absolute pinnacle of musical geekdom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

For disciples of rock like me, going there is a spiritual experience. I imagine it as similar to a theologian going to St. Paul’s Cathedral, a Civil War buff going to Gettysburg, or an art student going to the Leaning Tower. Walking up to that glass pyramid electrified my very soul, and for the briefest of prophetic moments, the entire world crystallized into its perfect form. God spoke to me, and all he said was, “See?”

Some highlights:

  1. Elvis had a really shiny suit – and was a Denver police officer.
  2. The double-neck guitar, despite its over-the-top ridiculousness, was very popular at one time. The Rock Hall has on display those owned by Jimi Hendrix, Mike Rutherford of Genesis, and Alex Lifeson of Rush, and they never fail to make me giggle as if to say, “oh you guys!”
  3. Soul singers in the ‘60s really knew how to dress.

    Sam Cooke's coat and hat. One word - stylin'.

    Sam Cooke’s coat and hat. One word – stylin’.

  4. Rock stars make their signatures as illegible as possible.
  5. There’s a section about protests to rock and roll. Statements from politicians, Christian leaders and activists are written on walls, followed by statements from musicians as a sort of response. The best one is from Eminem, from his song “Who Knew”: “Quit tryin’ to censor music, this is for your kid’s amusement / But don’t blame me when lil’ Eric jumps off of the terrace / You should of been watchin’ him, apparently you ain’t parents”
  6. Jimi Hendrix’s family had a really ugly couch.
  7. How did people NOT know Rob Halford was gay the second they laid eyes on him?

    "Not that there's anything wrong with it!"

    “Not that there’s anything wrong with it!”

  8. I now have to listen to every single song on the list of Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.
  9. The Rock Hall NEEDS a restaurant. A microwaved cheeseburger and tater tots that taste like cardboard simply aren’t enough for hungry museum-goers.

My third trip to the Rock Hall also made me realize two things. The first is that I already know a ton of information about the science, history and art of rock and roll. The second is that as much as I know, it’s only a miniscule fraction of what I have yet to learn. Rather than daunt me, that thought fills me with exhilaration like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

Next: isolation and other fun activities

Jesus People

According to my dad, my parents were NOT hippies – they were Jesus People. Hippies and Jesus People have a lot in common, like a mellow and positive attitude, a fashion sense that included bright colors, long tassels and hemp, and a liking for patchouli, most likely to cover up the odor of an unwashed body. But while hippies were very loose and open about spirituality, they were generally opposed to organized religion; they saw it as a way to keep people down.

Jesus People, on the other hand, found true freedom and liberation in Jesus Christ, something they didn’t find in the hippie culture, despite the advertisement of it. Hippies were wary of Jesus because of his association with Christianity, a thing of oppression (as they saw it). But Jesus People were much more interested in Christ as a person than they were in Christianity as a religion. They loved him. It is possible to be in love with someone who’s been dead for 2000 years, because to Jesus People (and to Christians in general) he’s not dead. He lives within each one of us, growing and improving us from the inside out. It’s like The Matrix – the concept can’t be fully explained; you have to see it for yourself.

Jesus People used to wear these buttons that said “One Way.” It refers to following Jesus as being the only way to heaven. When a member of the Jesus Movement saw a stranger that they thought might be a fellow Jesus Person, they would hold up their index finger (“one”). If the stranger did the same, they both knew that they had something in common, and that they would see each other again in heaven. It was like they shared a little secret, something the rest of the world wasn’t in on. It’s like when I was living in New York, regularly wearing my Red Sox cap on the streets of Manhattan. Most people didn’t care, but one time I saw another guy wearing the same cap and caught his eye. We exchanged no words, but gave each other a little nod and smile as I passed by.

It may seem like Jesus People were some exclusive organization with a rigorous membership process to weed out the fakers, but that’s not how it was. It’s important for us of this pluralistic generation to understand that Jesus People weren’t enforcing their individuality, or proclaiming their distinction from everybody else. They weren’t saying, “I’m different and I like that.” They were saying, “I’m saved, and you can be too!!!” The message of Jesus People was what the message of modern Christian evangelicalism should be: the more the merrier. And that should come without exceptions, addendums or provisos. This is an invitation regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation; if you have lungs and a beating heart, you can join this club.

As for Jesus People themselves, most of them grew up, got married and had kids, and generally settled down into a typical American existence. However, most of them (including both of my parents) never lost that zeal and passion for the word of God, or that all-or-nothing mentality that’s an essential part of their Christianity. And since both of my parents are such freakishly awesome people, it must not be a bad thing.

Even so, Jesus People are part of a bygone age, and their way of thinking about things is just different that ours today. They touted the “one way” philosophy, a thing that’s not only stuck around in Christianity but gotten more intense. While I’m certain that there’s only one road, Jesus’ road, I think that road might be a lot wider than a lot of Christians believe it is, or maybe than they want it to be.

I’m completely aware that people are gonna quote the “way is straight and narrow” verse from the Bible to me. Here’s my response. Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel, “…narrow [is] the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I posit that certain Christians would prefer it to be “only YOU guys find it, and screw everyone else.” It’s narrow, yes, but only in comparison to the other road, the one that leads to destruction, and the number of people who choose it. Perhaps another way of putting it is that those people aren’t even on a road; they’re lost in the forest being eaten by the bears. The only way for us to find them is to go into the forest and risk getting eaten by the bears ourselves.

Oh jeez. I try to write about Led Zeppelin and I end up preaching about evangelism. Sigh… more about IV next time.