Composers Not Computers

I used to have my alarm set to wake me up to the song, “The Final Countdown” by the band Europe. I guarantee, regardless of your age, you have heard the melodic anthem of electronically generated sounds in some sort of bad movie, commercial, or TV show. If you know the song, you know why I would wake up to it. Its epic! If you don’t believe me just try it. I would raise from my pillow in the first few parts of the introduction and as the drums kicked in, I would stride forth to begin my day, brushing my teeth like a maraca to the chorus now soaring throughout my room. If you ever want to start your day off like you are a superhero, set your wake to “The Final Countdown.” Perhaps if I was braver I would carry around a giant boom box wherever I went to play music according to my life and my mood.

I love music.  In fact think it would be very hard to find someone who hates music. Have you ever asked someone their favorite band and they responded, “Oh, I don’t have one, I hate music.” That would just be bizarre. Now granted, some have more eclectic tastes, where some like only a specific genre. I think every genre is beautiful in its own right. I have woken up to 80’s rock anthems and at the same time gotten pumped up for an athletic event by Beethoven’s Cannon in D.  Music can trigger memories, emotions, and inspiration.

We use music to remember, to give thanks, to worship, to honor, to express, or simply to create. It doesn’t just have to be professionally recorded music. We hum in the shower. We sing to our children. We create, whether on pots and pans on the floor while mom does dishes, or perhaps in more developed manner. In any case, regardless of preference, ability, we all have a connection to music. Trust me, my mother-in-law is tone deaf and yet she has over 30,000 songs on her computer. Music evokes. It pulls things out in a story that otherwise might go unspoken; masked emotion, underlying tension, suspense, joy, fear, anxiety, celebration.  In scripture we can often find this narration perhaps citing a voice, “like thunder,” or, “a small whisper.” How about all of the times we encounter choruses of praise and joy?

I believe one of the reasons we have such a connection to music is because of the way we were created. As I have studied more books and responded regarding the creation of the universe and more so, the movement and perpetuation of that creation, I have encountered a perception that I am fearful of. It isn’t a reliance on evolutionary theory or a problem with how old the earth is. I am not overly concerned with the dinosaurs nor big bang theories. What concerns me is how all or any of these theories are applied to life.  Often they make us seem more like computers. We should live this long, we should have about this many kids, we have been in existence since such and such a date… I have brown eyes because of this, we descend from these creatures because of that, the world operates because there are rules and regulations set to make it operate this way. Take those numbers, divide them by x multiply them by y, and so on an so forth. My life however doesn’t seem to run like a math equation. I don’t see the world around me running like one either.

            One of the greatest stories ever told is found in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. I say story here not making a claim on historicity, but more so making a claim on the way we should read it and tell it to others. Like it or not, Genesis doesn’t read like your freshman biology book, and there is a reason for that. The story is telling us about more than just order, more than just about phylum and species.

When I read through the first two chapters of the Bible, I don’t read through to try to get a sense if God is for or against evolution. I am not overly concerned with his “ability” to create in one day or several and I haven’t spent much time on safari looking for the original Garden of Eden. What I learn is about who this God is, and who He made us to be. The story of Scripture is filled with this insight time and time again. Each time we read of who God is, we are met with a refrain of who he created us to be. For example: God is love and we are created to be loving or God is King and calls us to be those who live in his Kingdom.

The language in Genesis is artful it is poetic, is flows more like notes on a page rather than numbers on a spreadsheet. There are similarities between the two- the measurements, the intentionality, the precision – but both with their stark difference as well. I wonder as we engage scripture as it sets the trajectory for the story that is begging and If we stopped spending our time arguing over things God didn’t find valuable enough to come right out and say, we would see the things that he does tell us plainly. I have looked but I haven’t found a footnote that says, “on the eighth day God said ‘do,’ or, ‘do not listen to Darwin’s theory of evolution.” I am not sure he cares all that much and honestly, how much would that knowledge really affect your daily life? How much time to you stay awake at night reflecting on the ramifications of evolutionary theory?

What does tell us, or show us in fact, does actually have huge ramifications for our life. You should lose sleep over this. God shows us that he is a composer, not a computer. God is like the leader of a massive orchestra, calling things to being, moving, shaking, inventing, creating. Sometimes, I read through that story imagining the music that would accompany such a screenplay; the rise and fall of the melody, the heart stopping bass, the drums (of course). Think of Darth Vater without the brass anthem backing his every step. Would the absence of that theme change how you see iconic villain?

Look at a sunset; look at a mountain range or an oceanfront. Look out your front door for crying out loud. The evidence is everywhere. God is a composer.

What we learn next is equally as astonishing and consequential. God created us to be composers, not computers. God created us to dream dreams and live them out. He created us to imagine the world into a better existence. He created us to be reflections of his own image (Genesis 1:27-28). We are called to compose. Music enhances any story. It brings the story to life in a way that noting else can.

Sure, we do that with the arts, with music and dance, and paint, but the way we are called to create is far greater than only the arts. We are called to compose a soundtrack to the life we live. We are called to compose as our creator created us to compose. By the relationships we build, by the job we pursue, by the life we create, God calls us to compose. Maybe that is why I like movies more than books. A book leaves more room for imagination, but a great movie is accompanied by a great soundtrack, a soundtrack that emphasizes and enhances. It is as if the characters are willing the surrounding music into existence as they pursue the story they are living.

I guess that is why I find propositions for the existence of the world that exclude God not all that compelling. The God that we read of in the story of history, the God who created you, and the very air you breathe, doesn’t act like a computer. He isn’t a computer, simply following some unwritten rules of the universe, acting according to the sum of various cosmic equations. He is a composer, like a master conductor in front of a world-class orchestra. And as creation moves foreword, as you write your worn story, you are adding to the soundtrack.

What does the music of your life communicate about the story you are living and writing? Is the music emphasizing, enhancing your story? Is there any music at all? If the story you are living is the sum total of the life that you are living, the soundtrack is the way you are living it. God created us to be composers, to will into existence a beautiful harmony that accompanies a story we were destine to live.

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