Quite a few of you out there will recognize those words as the opening line from the song Do-Re-Mi, from the musical Sound of Music. In it, the governess Maria was teaching the children in her charge the very basic concept of music. And through that song, many countless children have taken their very first steps into learning about music theory. From a simple song, she taught that music can be notated so that it can be enjoyed by others than just the hearer. And it can be played on a variety of instruments.
When I was I kid, (I am loathe to admit it), I started out learning how to play the violin. I could easily be the punchline for the old joke, “I wanted to learn how to play the violin in the worst way, and I succeeded!” So much so that I packed my violin up and did not touch it after seven years. I eventually gave it away as an adult with one stipulation, under no circumstances was the receiver ever attempt to give it back to me or any member of my family! (It is not that I do not appreciate the music of the violin, it is that my best efforts to play the violin reflected the difficulty it takes to master such an instrument).
Today I play both the guitar and the drums. I am thankful that my school orchestral music teacher taught us music theory on how music works along side how to play the instrument. (Ironically, she too was en route to be nun.) For those of you who might not realize, a guitar has six strings and violin four strings. Where you place your fingers on each instrument to play the same note varies greatly. Funny thing though, even though I have not touched the violin in over forty-five years, there are still times I want to place my finger on the guitar as if I was placing it on the correct string for the violin.
That is how I feel about my own journey in questioning the roots of Evangelicalism and how I feel about Jesus. Even though I instinctively know that I need to be something different, I still want to repeat the same pattern as I was taught in my youth. The unspoken theology by many is that change does not require hard work and does not take conscious effort. Even in my last post I used the term “modern church” when I should have written “the modern evangelical church.” I have not stopped following Jesus, only changed the instrument in which Do-Re-Mi is played out upon. The Do-Re-Me of Jesus is “to love one another.”
I have recently read what I would consider the most profound and clear explanation that puts words, things I have felt about Evangelicalism for the longest time. It was written last year by Colleen Batchelder as part of her Dissertation for her Doctor of Ministry. I am not saying I fully embrace all her conclusions, but it is enough to know where I am on my journey and why I no longer feel at home in Evangelicalism:
I am not sure I am yet to fully embrace the term as “Exvagelical” as I am not sure yet if the culture is something I will be able to adjust to. I suppose then I will have to invent a new term if no one else has yet: “I am a Spirit Filled Exvangelical.” Somehow adding the phrase “spirit filled” just seems like I am putting a fresh coat of paint on a house that does not need painted, but the rebuilt from the foundation of Christ. But the reason I am not sure I like the term Exvangelical is that it is still being defined by what I am in terms of the past not instead of terms of who I am now in the present. I share the same concern for Exvangelicals that I do for Harry and Meghan, that they are solidifying themselves as “the royals that were,” instead of who they are now. So if I go back to the foundation, than I am a Christian, even if not Evangelical. And like the violin, from youth, it was ingrained over and over again that Evangelicalism is the modern form and guardian of historic Christianity. Though the paper is lengthy, it clearly and historically shows why it is not. And it clearly lays out why others do not hear the word Evangelical when spoken, but instead they hear in their mind, White Evangelical, and the baggage associated with it.
But regardless of which generation and culture you may come from, the Do-Re-Mi still remains:
- John 13:35 ESV – 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I have not stopped singing Do-Re-Me, but just trying to figure out which instrument I am best suited to able share my music with the world.
So as always, love much my friends!