Posted tagged ‘Larry Norman’

Letting Go of My Cassette Tapes

June 8, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                June 8, 2016

                                

It’s been a difficult week. I took my carrying case of cassette tapes to Goodwill! It was comparable to that day several years ago when Carol and I took Lizi, our youngest, to college.

Carol has been cleaning up the basement this week. The trunk of our car was loaded with various boxes and forgotten treasures. I was okay with the old humidifier finding its place in the trunk, but then…then (dramatic music for effect)…she brought out the tape case.

I had forgotten about it, but then I started looking at all the products of music production that it held.

Twila Paris….Bohemian Melodies…Lake Wobegon Days…Whale Sounds…DeGarmo and Key…Cat Stevens…Andrae Crouch…Larry Norman…Keith Green! The last three are now dead, but hey!…their music never dies…unless, of course, its on a cassette tape.

I begrudgingly zipped the case closed and said a few holy words over it, sprayed incense in the air, tore my cloak and threw ashes on my head, and then drove the condemned to Goodwill.

I realize that neither of our vehicles has a tape player, and the one cassette player we have is somewhere unknown, but it is hard to let go of objects that I’ve associated with a certain period of my life.

Cassette tapes were from a time when Carol and I were raising three kids. There’s a sweetness to those memories. I would listen to Twila Paris as I prepared the Sunday message. When the music ended, I pressed the eject button and the tape door would open. I’d flip the cassette over and press Play. Good times and good music.

Life is littered with those Goodwill moments when we just need to let some things go. Pack them up and move on.

Churches usually aren’t very good at that. Sentiment runs high. Every congregation has a certain number of people who want things to stay the same. Like with my cassette tapes, I just wanted them to be there in case, for some odd reason, on a rainy afternoon I ever had the urge to hear whale sounds again.

Years ago there was a man in my church who had to travel most of the time. He would be gone for three or four months and then be home for a week. I got wind of the fact that he wasn’t going to come to church anymore so I called him. He said the church had changed, that it wasn’t the same. In essence, he wanted it to be there for him whenever he had the urge or possibility of attending. In his turbulent and fast-paced life he wanted the worship service to be the same as it had been in order to bring back to him memories of a period of his life that he longed to return to.

It’s hard to say goodbye, because we feel that we’re being insensitive. There are those who transition, it seems, with ease, and then there are those of us who hold on because we associate whatever we’re grasping with God. If it at one time was a vehicle of God we think it borders on blasphemy to get rid of it.

Churches are often hoarders out of a confused love for God. It’s like when I go to Best Buy and purchase a new Blu-Ray player, and then bring it home and sit it on top of my DVD player, which is still sitting on top of my VHS player.

Sometimes we just have to take the cassette tapes to Goodwill!

What Carol doesn’t realize is that I sneaked half a dozen tapes out of the case when she was out of the room. I think that’s okay! Bohemian Melodies, it seems, are few and far between these days.

Songs That Sing To Me

June 5, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   June 4, 2014

 

                                  

 

As a pastor I get tired of the “music wars”, the battles over how many hymns, praise songs, and contemporary music selections we sing in worship on Sunday morning. I doubt that David envisioned the polarizing that music would bring into a worshiping community when he sat with the sheep and composed Psalms as he strummed his harp.

The thing about music is that its eternal…if we allow it to be. How foolish it is to use music as a battlefield! We all have preferences. I’m not into rap, but I can still envision the Almighty tapping his toes to a song that has more rhythm than I could ever harness.

As I look back over my life I see songs popping up at different times that have stayed with me, and have melted into my spirit. Here’s three:

“Pass It On!” After my sophomore year of high school I spent a week of my summer vacation at church camp at Judson Hills Baptist Camp in northeastern Ohio. It was a great week that included living in a teepee, having a girlfriend, Clara, who lived across the street from me back in my hometown (A little awkward after we broke up a few days after returning to civilization!), and learning about God. At our evening campfire we would sing “Pass It On!” Forty-plus years later I can still hear the mix of the soprano voices of the young lady campers and the strange voices of the boys who weren’t sure if they were heading to the “bass section” but weren’t committed to being tenors either.

It was a defining summer that headed me towards considering the idea of one day being a pastor.

“Color My World!” My high school prom theme was also the Chicago hit. I can remember strolling through the gym with Mary Cronacher on my arm dancing to the soft music and realizing that young ladies smell good! Underarm deodorant became a friend of mine about that time. A guy couldn’t be a jock and be able to dance closely for very long with a young lady who had a scent of apple blossoms blessing my nostrils. I can still hear the brass of the band as they played that song.

“Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?”  Larry Norman’s song that was rocking and rolling as I was graduating from high school. Nothing like that had ever come close to the ivory keys of the church’s piano, and Norman’s long flowing blonde hair made it even more radical for our Baptist young people’s group. That summer after high school I learned that it was okay to not look stoic as you sang in church. Some of the parents of our youth group members were not so sure, and I would lay money on it that our church’s deacons’ meetings included some serious discussion about the road paved to hell by rock and roll!

Three songs that still sing to me and remind me of where I’ve been, the boy I once was and the approaching of manhood that they hummed me towards.