Heaven it ain’t!
by Terry Camsey, Major –
Funny how stuff pops into your head out of the blue sometimes, isn’t it?
Today, for some reason (which I hope will become clear to me, even as I write this column), I was reminded of a television program that I saw—must have been at least thirty years ago—when I lived in the United Kingdom.
It concerned a couple of young people (in their late teens or early twenties) who, when the program opened, were in what was obviously a waiting room. They didn’t know why they were there, only that they were getting very bored.
After what seemed to be an age, a guy appeared, telling them that he was their guide and that it was time to move on. They couldn’t wait to get going.
He led them through various rooms, none of which really interested them, until finally they landed up in some kind of large living room in which there was a crowd of older folks dancing to an old wind-up record player.
The music was old, the people were old, the dances were old, but the old people were having a whale of a time.
As you might expect, however, the young “tourists” soon got bored with the whole thing and asked the guide when they were going to move on. “You’re not moving on,” he told them, “this is it!”
It took a few moments for the penny to drop and then they realized that they had died and gone to…what was hell for them, but heaven for the old people!
My sister is visiting from England and at lunch today we happened to get on the subject of music and the fact that what is “meat” to some is “poison” to others. That television recollection immediately came back to mind, and thus I find myself at the computer keyboard putting these thoughts together.
It occurs to me that there must be many kinds of music in heaven if people are really to feel that—for them—it truly is heaven. Someone once suggested that there would only be one kind of music in heaven and that it would be some kind of bland music that neither offends people, nor significantly inspires them. Certainly the subject is a conundrum that we shall not solve this side of the grave.
But for us on Earth the thinking does point up that, whether we like it or not, each generation has its own likes and dislikes so far as music and musical style is concerned. And, not just music, their language is different (I am talking about the way that different generations use the English language, never mind foreign languages—foreign to who, or is it whom, I wonder). Their mode of preferred dress is different…in fact, different generations are significantly different. So much so that to please all, even in a worship service, is nigh impossible. Those that have tried realize, more often than not, that they land up with two sets of dissatisfied people.
That is also a challenge since, surely, older people who have given their entire lives to the Army deserve to be able to worship in a style they are comfortable with. But do they also deserve the right to dictate to younger generations that they, too, must like what they like? My sense is that they do not.
Each generation must be reached in a language (musical and otherwise) with which they resonate and respond. And every denomination, including ours, is always only one generation from extinction. Some less than a generation away! Lose a generation and you risk the Army!
In the face of such a challenge, cross-cultural ministry—even within races or ethnicities—assumes a whole new importance.
What say you?