For most of my childhood, television was off-limits. I was an avid tv watcher up until about 7 years old. Then, my mom found the Lord, and evidently, He only wanted her and her new husband to watch tv, so the set was moved into her and R’s room, and was forever off-limits to the rest of the kids. Back then, it was like coming off of excellent cocaine or something, but I’m thankful for it now.I spent hours upon hours with my nose buried in books, or building a fantasy world outside.
Unfortunately, the same rule applied to music and the use of radios throughout the house. Before their divorce, my dad was an avid country music fan, and my mother adored Elvis Presley. Chances are, if you came to our house, you would find the radio blaring before you’d find the television set on. So, the music rule was just excruciating to me.
I didn’t argue with my mom much…You payed a heavy price for speaking up, but the music problem warranted the reprisals, so on more than one occasion I would work up enough nerve to ask her to have my radio back. She wasn’t a woman to explain much, and would always tell me no, and if I asked why, she would tell me the devil was the author of all music.
Now, having been banned from all technological recreation, I knew that Bible of mine way better than a lot of pastors these days do, and I marched my 8 year-old butt into my mom’s room one day, and laid out all the psalms that talked about music, including the fact that the word “Psalms” basically meant songs. She was very impressed, and I was from then on allowed to listen to …Bill Gaither and Dallas Holmes. Don’t get me wrong. Lovely music. Just not the kind I was hoping for.
As I got older, and because R didn’t follow Mom‘s rules either, I was introduced to the BeeGee’s (my stepfather’s favorite group) and a little bit of country music in the car. But one day, I happened to find a Contemporary Christian station — (contemporary for the late 70’s early 80’s anyways), and I heard Bob Bennett’s Mountain Cathedrals. I listened with interest as Petra strutted their stuff, and Michael Card‘s Dragonslayer filled up my imagination and my soul. Ah Hah! These were Christians, and their music didn’t put me to sleep!
I began collecting their records and tapes, listening to them clandestinely at night in my room. John Michael Talbot, Amy Grant, Steve & Annie Chapman, Dino, Michael Card…until Mom caught me. And set up an appointment with our pastor because, according to Mom, these songwriters and singers weren’t real Christians.
Off we went for the appointment, me already grieving the extensive collection of music that I had sitting safely in my shoebox on my lap, and my Mom feeling secure that she was saving my soul from hell.
The pastor, a really wonderful man named Scott, listened with interest. Then, slowly, he got up and opened a cabinet behind his desk. Turned out, we had the exact same taste in music!! He assured Mom that these men were singing about Christ, and that I wasn’t being lead down the road to hell by listening to them. He even told Mom that as long as I was discriminating, there were rock-and-roll and country singers that I could listen to. In the end, he informed her that I had my own conscience, and she had to allow me to exercise it. Cool guy.
From that time on, I could proudly display my Christian, and non-Christian music collection. And I learned also that we have to let other people follow their consciences, not decide for someone else what they should or should not be doing.
PS: My ringtone on my phone is “Don’t Panic” by Coldplay…Thanks, Scott!!.