A simple test

Back in the day when the Didact was a teenage atheist- my, how original, a know-it-all teenager who thought he knew all there is to know about Life, the Universe, and Everything!- and was in a non-denominational private boys' grammar school, every Friday afternoon the entire school would have an assembly in the main theatre.

All of us carried around this little black calendar book which, among other things, contained a number of Christian hymns. At those assemblies, we would be asked by the Headmaster to sing one of the hymns in the book.

Now, you can imagine how annoying this would be for an avowed atheist who, like most clueless mid-wit atheists at that stage of intellectual development, regarded Christianity with open hostility, if not outright hatred. It pissed me off beyond measure that I had to stand there, with like 700 other boys and teachers, and sing some stupid songs made by stupid men about a stupid "god" that didn't exist.

(In my defence, I was a lot younger and dumber back then. It's not a very good defence, admittedly, but it's really all I've got. Youthful indiscretions, and all that sort of thing.)

Despite my deeply entrenched dislike of organised religion, however, there was one thing I simply couldn't get around: there was this one hymn that I actually rather liked.

This is it, down below: "For All the Saints", by Vaughan Williams.

And listening to it means taking a very simple test.

If you can listen to this and find nothing worthy about it, nothing of beauty and grace and goodness, nothing of God's divine majesty in it, then you're very much an atheist, and the rest of us don't have a hope in the Devil's Imperial Hell* of saving you.

If, however, like that teenaged version of me, you can find something to enjoy and appreciate about this, then there is hope for you yet. Hey, I managed to figure it out, eventually. And my word, does this sound good now:



Jesu Domine, Rex et Redemptor
Per Sanguinem Tuum Salva Nos

*Hey Carey, get with the times and go metric already!

Comments

  1. I'll not give anymore than a millimeter of forward motion to this idea of going metric!

    It is a simple test, no? There's really no arguing the results, either. Not with any arguments reverberating with logic of any sort.

    I'm an angry man in the hands of a God merciful toward sinners. I'm a terribly unlikely candidate for worshiping this God I worship. I think there are times that this works out in my favor---I left the church years ago and spent many years angry at her. And yet, rather than throw God out with that anger, I decided to use the very act of stepping away to strip away years of dogmatic religion and to do my level best to FIND God, as He is, was and ever shall be, without the dogmatic nonsense. Now, I can see far more clearly the hand of God than ever I could in the midst of Churchianity.

    One reason I left is what these churches call, 'Worship' services now. Millions of dollars of media equipment in some of the bigger churches where I've played guitar all set to 'stun' and ready to entertain. Silly words that sound like odes to boyfriends go up on giant screens that repeat comfortable, calming colors. No simple gratitude. No simple repentance. No simple AWE at ALL. Nothing but entertainment. I could no longer continue to play music in these social clubs and, eventually, feminism creeping in has eroded any further interest that I might have in the modern church.

    But everywhere you look, there it is: the beauty and precision of God's Creation; to view it with anything more than the simple awe that is the correct perspective for the flawed human is to do both God and ourselves disservice. We think because we know a tad about physics and our universe that we can be 'smarter' in our relationship with God.

    But, no. The LAST thing a human seeking to worship God in the fullest needs is to try and be smarter. What we need is contentment-producing awe; simple adoration of a Mind that creates beauty for no other reason than for that beauty to be enjoyed by those He created.

    We're all just missing the point most of the time, aren't we?

    I'm glad you 'came around.' Atheism, when one has a heart to appreciate beauty in any form, seems to act more as acetate than intelligence. Everything is stripped away.

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  2. Now, I can see far more clearly the hand of God than ever I could in the midst of Churchianity.

    The most interesting thing about this is that it proves what Ann Barnhardt has been saying for a while- faith is not about Man's quest for God, it's about God's quest for Man. He calls out to us constantly, and if we're very lucky and very attentive, sometimes He gets through. It took Him a while with both of us, but eventually, we figured it out.

    One reason I left is what these churches call, 'Worship' services now. Millions of dollars of media equipment in some of the bigger churches where I've played guitar all set to 'stun' and ready to entertain. Silly words that sound like odes to boyfriends go up on giant screens that repeat comfortable, calming colors. No simple gratitude. No simple repentance. No simple AWE at ALL. Nothing but entertainment. I could no longer continue to play music in these social clubs and, eventually, feminism creeping in has eroded any further interest that I might have in the modern church.

    Man, I hate those. I've never seen the point. Those mega-churches just seem like one giant exercise in mutual mental masturbation. I've never understood why a man of faith should ever be ashamed to pray to the Lord, wherever he is, even if he is alone. In the end, He is our only refuge when all others are gone- why make a spectacle out of that?

    What we need is contentment-producing awe; simple adoration of a Mind that creates beauty for no other reason than for that beauty to be enjoyed by those He created.

    Yeah. One thing I've noticed after I finally accepted my faith in God is that the simplest things seem far more beautiful now. It's much easier to find goodness and decency in the world, even as things seem to be spinning all to hell.

    The Lord gave us the gift of reason among many others, but it's interesting to discover that, through reason, we discover faith- and through faith, we discover beauty.

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