All we are saying is “give peace a chance”

Just finished watching the #BEDPEACE video which Yoko Ono has made available for this weekend via a free stream. It is a portrait of John and Yoko’s Bed-In in Montreal from 1969. Yoko writes “John and I were so naïve to think that doing the Bed-In would help change the world.” My response would be “yes” and “no”. I’d like to elaborate on a few points, if I may.

The Beatles Bed In for Peace and the whole counter-culture movement of the sixties is indirectly part of my youth and something that always strikes a chord within me. I was to young to experience the movement firsthand. I was only seven years old when the Bed-In took place. But later in the seventies when I began to get interested in music, I was always drawn to the music and culture that took place at that time instead of the contemporary music of the day. I had often secretly wished that I would have been born ten years earlier so that I could have experienced all these things firsthand. Maybe I was drawn to it because then events of that period had already achieved a kind of mythical status by the mid seventies. I’m sure there are many factors. But maybe it was better that I wasn’t born earlier. Perhaps my reaction would have been different.

Anyway, in 1980 I became a Christian of the evangelical variety and as was the case with many like me, I was drawn into the realm of conservative political thought, This in turn brought me into an inner conflict about many of the views of the sixties and in particular John and Yoko’s pacifism. I had accepted as true  and necsessary many of the things which they were campaigning against. I have since become more flexible in my thinking, which is in a constant process of reevaluation. Especially the fact that I’ve lived outside the USA for over twenty years now, has given me the opportunity to reflect on things from afar and from other perspectives.

Watching the video struck me and I was impressed by several things. John Lennon was very intelligent and had an excellent grasp of human nature and the problems of the world. Quite remarkable, since at the time he was not yet thirty years old. He was not advocating a kind of class warfare. He realized that the problem lie in the heart of all mankind. He realized that a revolution by force would not solve things but simply replace the existing regime with a new one that would end up repeating the same mistakes. His hope was to do something different, to change the hearts of people and bring change from within. This is where I would disagree with Yoko. They were not naïve in thier analysis of the problem but right on.

Where I would agree with Yoko is in another area, their solution to the problem. The change that is required in the heart of mankind is not something that can be achieved by a simple refelction and change of the will. It requires Jesus Christ. The nature of mankind must be radically altered and this can only be achieved by God. But for this to occur we need as individualy to recognize this and ask for his forgiveness and life changing power. A conversion must take place which takes usfrom the kingdom of darkeness into the kingdom of light. As admirable as their efforts were I think they were naïve as to the solution.

I think many valuable lessons can still be gained from their approach: we require change,  the system is not the problem but our human nature, it is our responsibility to take action the solution won’t come from othersin the sense of a system or structure. In my opinion the action that is needed is for us to get on our knees and come before God. Yes, “power to the people,” but the power comes from God.


Knowledge and Wisdom, Notation and Music

Recently I spent several days at a monastery in quiet contemplation and learned a few things about knowledge and wisdom. Shortly thereafter I spent a few days using LilyPond software to score some music for our worship team. Putting both of these together has giving me a better understanding of the differences between theological knowledge and wisdom as demonstrated in mature Christian living.

The analogy goes as follows: writing a musical score is something completely different than playing or listening to music. Using the LilyPond software required a fair amount of technical knowledge. On the one hand one must understand something of how music works: keys, sharps, flats, timing signatures etc. On the other hand a form of scripting not unlike a computer program was needed for the software to produce a nicely formatted PDF file with the musical score. Now here’s the kicker, all that knowledge and effort did not produce one single note of music played.

A musical score is not a song. A song requires a musician who knows how to translate the musical score into reality so that others can enjoy it. The person who wrote the score may or may not be able to do this. And as is often the case the truly gifted musicians are not as gifted, when it comes to having a technical knowledge of music. That being said, there are also many who excel in both areas. Simply put, excellence in one area does not imply excellence in the other.

This is where I see the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge and especially theological knowledge has the ability to describe, document, categorize and explain life. Yet theological knowledge does not “play” life. Wisdom is found in a person who, just like a musician, can take the musical score from the theologian (pastor etc.) and implement it into the realities of life, so that knowledge achieves it’s God given goal.

Unfortunately many Christians (myself included) confuse discussions about the technicalities of musical scores with the playing of a beautiful song.