At Cornerstone Bible Church in Asheboro, the sermon dealt with Judaizers, a subcategory of early Christians who believed that gentile followers of Jesus must be circumcised in order to be saved. In the days before HMOs this was strictly a question of theology, whether the Law of Moses applied to Christians of non-Jewish descent. He used as an illustrative example the commonly held belief that some works of art, particularly rock and roll music, must be cut off from the mind and the soul in order for the modern follower of Jesus to be saved.
Flash back 24 hours to a memory of Ben Griffith singing animatedly and playing the accordion. He performs the classic What I Want Is A Proper Cup Of Coffee, which I know from the folk rock duo Trout Fishing In America's 1991 album Big Trouble, though it is undoubtedly much older.
"All I want is a proper cup of coffee, made in a proper copper coffee pot,
I may be off my dot, but I want a proper coffee in a proper copper pot.
Iron coffee pots and tin coffee pots, they are no use to me!
If I can't have a proper cup of coffee in a proper copper coffee pot, I'll have a cup of tea!"
It's a joyful celebration of youth energy and silliness, which the kids call randomness, in much the same vein as They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies (you can bet Saint Peter will ask them about that name.) I'm inclined to get defensive when people describe my favorite pastime/job/calling/release as demonic. I know that some people say naughty words, but that's true in any profession. It's a sick world, as preachers are fond of reminding us, and if the art we create reflects that, maybe someone should seek out the root cause, instead of shooting the messenger to avoid thinking about it.
The preacher went on to say that while he got rid of all his Eagles albums, he kept Stevie Wonder. Of course, Stevie Wonder is an exceptional rock star because of his social consciousness and sense of responsibility to his fans. On tour with the Rolling Stones, right after Talking Book (the one with Superstition,) he said "Some of it has actually turned me off, I mean, there's a lot of bull that goes down in the business. People blowing money on cocaine when they could be giving it to those who need it." But secular music is inextricably entertwined with adolescent love-type emotions and the greed that hovers near huge piles of money. Even Stevie wonder has children out of wedlock and legal battles with his record label.
I love coffee in whatever kind of pot. It's mostly pyrex these days, or plastic, or styrofoam, but the smell and taste and warmth make for a multisensory extravaganza of pleasure. The effect is enhanced by the risk of first degree burns and stained clothes. These negative aspects cannot be removed from the experience because the taste and the staining color come from the same seeds, extracted in a process that necessitates dangerously high temperatures. Coffee drinkers must take the risk to get the reward. So it is with all of life. Good and bad are two imaginary points on the same infinite spectrum. Bad boys like the Rolling Stones elevate Stevie Wonder to the status of role model, and without Stevie for comparison, the Stones do not seem that cool.
Where does that leave us? The Judaizers would probably say all rock music must go. I believe that rock, like any other music, unites us and allows us to commune with one another on a very high spiritual level, and for this reason we should keep it all. The sermon was about Paul and the original Apostles uniting against the Judaizers, overcoming their differences for the sake of saving all who can be saved. They decided that petty differences must not be allowed to divide us. And that, I think, is a message worth repeating.