It is Wonderful, Isn’t It?

Am I the only one who does it?  I feel a little embarrassed, but I can’t help it. Over and over, I click on the button, thinking that no one else in the world would be this foolish.  I’ve tried to stop, but I can’t.  I’ll probably still be doing it when I’m ninety.  While it’s not really something to be ashamed of, I can’t help being a bit reticent to admit that I do it publicly.  How to do this?  Perhaps, if I started as they do in the AA meetings…
Hi.  My name is Paul.  I’m an addict of beautiful music.  Once I start listening, I just can’t stop.

I got a new music CD last week.  I ordered it because I heard one song that I really enjoyed.  When the album…I mean…CD arrived, I popped it into the CD player and was instantly carried away with the vocal talent of the artist.  Oh sure, there were a couple of songs I could have done without, but that’s always the reality of purchasing a collection, with song choices which anyone but me selects.  Funny…I don’t think I agree with anyone one hundred percent of the time.  It’s probably a good thing.  
Since the CD arrived, I have played through it more times than I can count.  I’ll probably do that for the foreseeable future.  I like what I like.  Beauty is to be enjoyed.  I’m planning to do just that.
On second thought, I don’t need this Twelve Step thing.  I don’t have a problem at all.

I don’t mean to make light of the real purpose for the support groups, or of their value, but it provides a passageway into my thoughts tonight.  I listened again, just moments ago, to a beautiful version of the old song called “What a Wonderful World” sung by a relatively unknown (outside Christian music) artist named, David Phelps.  I’m not advertising for him.  I don’t sell his albums…er…CDs…No!  It’s an album!

Will you let me follow this rabbit trail for just a moment?  I have been brought up short by customers on any number of occasions when I have called a CD an album.  “No, I don’t want a record.  I want a CD!”  I’ve even been stopped by a young person when I called an MP3 file an album.  I do know that we used the word to describe those black vinyl disks which spun on a turntable and had a needle that rode in the grooves to produce music (when they weren’t skipping and popping).  It was appropriate then and it is still appropriate now.  An album is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: Album (noun); one or more recordings (as on tape or disc) produced as a single unit.  I’ll keep calling them albums.
I did have a goal in mind before I went off on that tangent, but I’m back now and we’ll head on down the original path once more.  As I listened, enraptured, to the rendition of “Wonderful World” that Mr. Phelps was crooning, a thought suddenly struck me.  “No!  I’m an Evangelical Christian!  I’m “in the world, but not of it.”  It’s not a wonderful world!”  My mind took the thought and ran with it for a moment.  I cannot like this song. It praises something from which I must keep myself unsullied.

But, that’s just the way that cults get started isn’t it?  We take an idea, expressed in specific words in our teachings, and we apply them, using a completely different meaning of the words. With that misunderstanding of the words, we change the application of the idea and we modify our entire lives to fit that errant interpretation.  I think that perhaps a little more consideration is called for here.  And, nearly as suddenly as that negative thought had hit, my brain stepped in with a more logical thought and reminded me that the subject matter is two completely different entities.  The “world” from which I am to be aloof is the reprobate culture which has emerged from man’s fallen nature.  The “world” the writer of the song describes is the physical world which was created by God Himself.  Tell me how I should hate that.

I remember seeing the movie from the late 1980’s, “Good Morning Vietnam”, years ago.  The most poignant moment in the movie for me was when the protagonist, played by the very funny Robin Williams, broadcast the same song I’m speaking of tonight.  The recording was by Louis Armstrong and the dichotomy was striking, as the movie’s writers intended it should be.  The happy voice of Satchmo coming over the airwaves, singing about the great beauty of the created world, set against the stark ugliness of war, had just the effect they were hoping for.  The reaction, for most people, was, “It is not a wonderful world!  Look at the atrocities, the killing, the conflict of man against man!  How could a God who created such beauty (if He did) allow such horror?”

In naked opposition to that fabricated reaction is the factual realization that it is we ourselves who are responsible.  Our evil hearts have brought such hideousness to a world, which was once (and still is, truth be told) beautiful.  Only one thing will change that.  The change comes from the inside.  It doesn’t come by force.  It doesn’t come by hatred.  It doesn’t come by recrimination.  The ugliness that blights the landscape of creation will be made beautiful once more by Grace.  Nothing more, nothing less.  From the ashes of destruction come great beauty.  

What a wonderful world we live in.  The skies declare their Creator in their beauty.  The mountains, the woods, the rivers, the seashore…all are declarations of who He is.  

It’s okay.  You get to enjoy beauty.  No guilt, no reservations.  The Creator Himself looked at it and said, “I am satisfied.  It is good.”  

“And, I say to myself, ‘What a wonderful world.'”  

Satchmo would add, “Oh, yeah!”

“For the beauty of the earth

For the glory of the skies,

For the love which from our birth

Over and around us lies.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,

This our hymn of grateful praise.”

(hymn~”For The Beauty Of The Earth”~word by Folliot Sandford Pierpoint~1835-1917)
“Nature is too thin a screen.  The glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere!”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson~American poet/essayist~1803-1882)
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© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved. 

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