Thursday, May 24, 2007

School of Rock Update

In my previous entry, I wrote about my plans to spend this summer studying who's who among the rock and roll greats. Here are just a few interesting tidbits I found interesting in my first week of research:

1. Queen has sold over 300 million albums since 1973.

2. Guitarist Rado "Bob" Klose, Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason, and Rick Wright formed a band in the mid-late 60's called "Tea Set," soon afterwards naming Syd Barrett as their lead vocalist and guitar player. When "Tea Set" discovered that they were on the same bill with another band with the same name, Syd Barret came up with a new name based on two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council... which is why you now know them as Pink Floyd.

3. Joey Ramone, singer and songwriter of the early punk band The Ramones, stood 6 feet 6 inches tall, suffered from severe OCD, Marfan Syndrome, and lymphoma, which ultimately took his life in 2001. He was listening to U2's "In a Little While" when he passed away.

4. Led Zeppelin's album (the title is a symbol; it was their fourth album) that released the colossal hit "Stairway to Heaven" has sold 23 million copies in the US alone. Despite the popularity of "Stairway to Heaven," the band never released it as a single.

5. John Bonham, drummer for Led Zeppelin (pictured above; he's the one at the top), died after starting an evening of drinking with four quadruple vodkas (that's 2/3 pint) and continued drinking late into the night. After midnight and a halted rehearsal, Bonham fell asleep and was found dead in the morning.

6. Aerosmith is the best-selling American rock band of all time at over 140 million record sales worldwide, and are also one of the few 70's rock bands whose original lineup still performs today.

7. The Doors did not perform with a bass guitar player. Instead, Ray Manzareck would play the bass notes on the Fender Rhodes keyboard with his left hand while playing other keyboards with his right.

8. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles' eighth album, was recorded in 129 days beginning December 6, 1966. The album was nominated for six Grammy awards in 1967 (of which they won four), is #1 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and in 2007 was named Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Most Definitive Rock and Roll Album."

More lessons from the School of Rock to come, check back soon...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Summer School of Rock

The Who, The Clash, Pink Floyd, The Beatles... all played a role in shaping rock as we know it, and I don't know anything about them. This is a sad, misfortunate truth, but I couldn't tell you when Aerosmith started (1969), or how The Ramones influenced U2, or that drugs were to blame in the destruction of The Sex Pistols. I've known my weakness for a long time, but I'm finally beginning to face my giant: I need a rock education. I know about the bands I listen to, but practically nothing about the bands that influenced them; I know where we are today, but I have only shadows of an understanding of how we got here.

That's why I am enrolling myself in a self-tailored/custom-fit "Summer School of Rock." I've made a list of over 60 bands and people who I will spend the summer getting to know more intimately. I want to study and memorize full biographies, discographies, career highs and lows, who influenced who, and cultural impact; I want to buy their CDs, download their hits, and immerse myself in their music.

People assume that because I went to music school I'm a walking Fleetwood Mac catalogue, or an encyclopedia of Jimi Hendrix facts. I went to Florida State, one of the top CLASSICAL music programs in the country. And while I'm proud of my alma mater and the education I received there, I learned a grand total of ZILCH about rock history. So, in college, while my friends were gaining a highly-applicable knowledge of Metallica, Audioslave, and Nirvana, I was locked in a tiny practice room on the 4th floor of the music building singing "Ein Jungling Liebt Ein Madchen" from Schumann's Dichterliebe Opus 48 (which I have never once been asked to sing since). The long and short of it is: I have a lot of catching up to do.

I'll write about my progress, and probably about some of the artists I find especially fascinating in future blog entries. Stay tuned.

P.S. I'll buy lunch for the first person to correctly identify the band in the above picture and post their answer here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The New Temple

Mark 14:58 "[Christ said,] I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.”

I have recently become convinced that one of our greatest weaknesses as modern-day Christians (I dare say the greatest weakness) is our failure to truly understand the Old Testament Scriptures. We’ll gladly read the story of David slaying Goliath or Joshua and the siege of Jericho, but when it comes to the more tedious writings and stipulations that are recorded between those great tales of war and triumph, many of us either read with confusion and a giant question mark (“How could this possibly be relevant to me?”), or we simply skip over those passages entirely.

Take the Tabernacle for example. How many of you considered the layout of the Mosaic Tabernacle this morning in your daily devotions? Not many, I presume. And yet, God gave Moses such an extremely detailed floor plan for how to build the Tabernacle (the tent where God’s presence would dwell) that 5 whole chapters of our Bible are dedicated to its record. The whole creation account is told in less than two chapters. Why would God do that? What can we possibly learn from 5 obscure chapters about a tent?

Before we look at how the Tabernacle is relevant in New Testament (NT) times, it’s important that we first understand how the Tabernacle was significant in the Old Testament (OT). The Tabernacle was the sanctuary of God; it was the holy place where God “tabernacled” (“dwelt”) among His people, the Israelites, during their years of wandering. Representatively, God humbled himself to sojourn with His people through the desert until they reached the Promised Land, where the temple would be built as a more permanent structure (the Tabernacle was a tent and thus a mobile sanctuary).

The furniture of the Tabernacle was set up in such a way as to require the worshipper to perform a series of rituals of cleansing and sacrifice before atonement could be made on his behalf (see diagram). Even after such pain-staking efforts, no one was allowed into the Holy of Holies except the High Priest– and even he was only permitted access once a year on the Day of Atonement. And so the first lesson we learn from the Tabernacle in Exodus is that God humbled himself, came to earth to sojourn with His people through a “dry and weary land where there was no water” (Ps. 63:1), and, by His presence, to lead them into the Promised Land of rest where an imperishable temple-house would be built in His name. (Sound familiar?)

But the lessons of the Tabernacle don’t stop there: consider the furnishings of the Tabernacle where the worshipper was required to perform rituals of cleansing and sacrifice (listed here in progression from the “Outer Courts” into the “Holiest Place”):

  1. Altar of Sacrifice: Before entering even the outer courts, a bloody sacrifice must be offered.
  2. Laver: In the outer courts the worshipper must wash his body with water.
  3. Lampstand: Inside the Holy Place, the 7-branch lampstand filled the sanctuary with light.
  4. Table of Shewbread: 12 loaves of bread on a table to represent God’s provision.
  5. Altar of Incense: Where the High Priestly prayer was offered on behalf of the worshipper.
  6. The Veil: Separated man from the “Holiest Place” where God’s presence dwelt.
  7. The Ark of the Covenant: Contained the stone tablets of the Law of Moses; God “sits enthroned above the cherubim”; the place where atonement was made and the sins of man were put away.

Remarkable details! But for what purpose? As holy as it was, we know that the Tabernacle was defiled, abolished, and then replaced by Solomon’s Temple. But even the Temple was defiled by a wicked and corrupt priesthood and was ultimately destroyed in the fall of Jerusalem in AD70. How can it be that these limited and corruptible rituals of worship could satisfy the “holy and incorruptible” God?

Could it be that the Tabernacle and Temple were instituted by God to teach His people that their depraved souls need more than the washing of water to make them truly clean? Could it be that the bloody sacrifices and atonement offerings were powerless to justify anyone in the sight of God (Gal. 3)? Could it be that these temporal systems were meant to instruct God’s children to look forward to a better “Temple” that was yet to come?

John presents Christ as the God-Man who came to earth and “tabernacled among us” (John 1:14). Even the literary structure of his book is intended to show us that Christ was more than just a new Tabernacle whereby men could offer atonement, but John teaches us that Christ was the true Tabernacle even from the beginning– the perfect fulfillment of those imperfect systems that came before. Christ is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29) and who offered Himself on the Altar of the cross (John 3); the Laver whose “living water” washes you completely- body and soul (John 4); the Lampstand, the “light of the world” who alone is able to keep you from dwelling in darkness (John 8 & 9); the Table of Shewbread, your provision, even your “Bread of Life” (John 6); He is also your great “High Priest” (Heb. 4:14), interceding in prayer for you at the Altar of Incense (John 17); Christ tore the “Veil” of His body so that you were permitted full access to God’s Holiest presence (John 18 & 19). Truly our God is the God of spiritual Israel, “enthroned above the cherubim,” who has written His Law not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh– even the hearts of men (2 Sam. 6:2; 2 Cor. 3:3). See also Hebrews 9 & 10.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” - 1 Cor. 6:19