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Thoughts from a Musician's Heart


These thoughts began whirling through me a few weeks ago. Nothing new, nothing that hasn’t been said innumerable times before. But this time, my heart was pierced.

Patrick and I often scoured old second hand book stores—treasure troves of the past which were cluttered, dusty, and always home to a resident cat. Occasionally I’ll notice a book on my shelf which I have never read. “Main Street” by Sinclair Lewis is my latest “new” read. The novel is an insightful sociological satire of typical small town American life, including Christianity. All I know about the author I read in the introduction. Lewis refused to accept the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction stating that it was awarded not for its literary merit but because of its popular ideas. He was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. Lewis’ career was successful, yet he, an atheist with two failed marriages, a son killed in WWII, and a long battle with alcoholism, spent his last years alone. We often read such biographies of artists. This time I wept.

Soon afterward, Modest Mussorgsky entered my thoughts as my grandchildren and I explored “Pictures at an Exhibition”. The famous red-nosed painting of the composer always makes me think “this man was not a happy soul”. Mussorgsky’s “non-normal” artistic life and alcoholism led to his death at age 42.

Bear with me as I take the liberty of tying a string around these two men and Vincent Van Gogh. (Vincent is one who forever lives in my heart and whose gift to the world cannot be measured.) Here lies a bundle of three amazing God-given talents, diligence, perseverance, weird ideologies, crazy lifestyles, abuse of alcohol, and art. How many more musicians, painters, poets, actors, sculptors, and the like could be tied into this bundle?

Certainly, all of the above descriptions can and do apply to any people group. But speaking as an extremely passionate musician, I believe artists hold the record for being from another planet. We are super-sensitive and tuned to a beauty that tears our guts, sadness that tears our hearts, excitement that bolts us to the heavens. The artistic person has an inborn drive to create. We spend hours and hours alone holed up in a practice room or studio, honing our skills, striving for the perfect phrase or perfect words or perfect image to present something that is beyond our five senses and the physical world. Jealousy, judgment (of others and ourselves), competitiveness, arrogance, despair, and feeling rejected or criticized or grossly misunderstood are often part of the package.

It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

Tragically, much of the Christian church has moved through the centuries from supporting the arts to viewing the Great Arts as unrelated to faith in God. The “typical” artist and the “typical” Christian churchgoer have no clue how to relate to one another. Each scratches their heads, wondering if the other is from another planet.


(From a Musician to Musicians on Planet Music)

Vulcans relate to Vulcans, Bajorans to Bajorans, Klingons to Klingons.

Musicians, please relate to your musician friends and colleagues!

They desperately need

to know that God the Creator, the Great Artist, the Great Musician loves them, and

to know the Truth behind the beauty or passion or transcendence of music.

Our world is spinning away from belief in God.

Please, let’s get out of our personal comfort zone, or timidity, or fear of rejection, or fear of seeming like a bigot.


Pray for discernment and guidance.

Show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22)

Be sincere, accepting, and respectful.

The Name of Jesus may be a hindrance. Wait for God’s time.

No person can know where another spends eternity.

Perhaps Vincent, Sinclair, and Modest could have lived knowing they were in God’s loving hands if Christian artists had reached out to them with the love of Jesus Christ.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:35)


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