The Power of Music

Have you ever heard a song so powerful that it made you stop and just think for a few minutes?

Just about all of us have, I’m sure. Some couples have an “our song.” When it plays they are taken back to when they were first dating and a feeling of romance wells up between them. Sometimes a song will fit just perfectly with a friend or family member, and every time you hear it, you think of that person. Music can bring back a flood of memories, both happy and sad. Some will expose emotions long thought sealed up in a room somewhere with the intent that it never again see the light of consciousness. Some will tear open new wounds on top of old ones. Some will be uplifting and make us joyful and happy. Some will lull us into a melancholy state while other will make us want to sing along and tap our feet to the beat.
 
Kenny Chesney wrote and sang a song about just that.

Music is very powerful. Chesney mentions his friend who died in his teens in a number of his songs. You can tell that he really loved the guy. Music is cathartic. For both the singer and the listener. It is expressive on levels few other forms of communication can match. It has rhythm, tempo, and rhyme. It has volume, attitude, and emotion. It has style, character, and power. It is a way to exorcise our demons and express what we are feeling in any given moment. With music, was share our lives, or live vicariously through others. It memorializes forever that which we want to be remembered for all time.

There are two songs that readily come to mind that evoke vivid memories for me. Tanya Tucker’s song It’s a Little Too Late reminds me of my high school days when my best friend’s girlfriend was coming on to me. Books & Dunn’s Only in America reminds me of a particular high school graduation.

Not my own.

My wife and I ran a small, private, Christian school of 50 – 60 kids for several years. This particular school year was a horrible one for us in the way it ended. I had just been diagnosed with a neurological disorder. Not Huntington’s, but something quite similar. The medication I had been taking quit working. When I gave the graduation address to a standing room only crowd, I sounded like an absolute idiot. I could barely maintain a coherent thought and getting the words out of my mouth was quite challenging. Very embarrassing. My wife was sick with a fever of 105.2. We’d decorated the hall for the reception of over 300 people, but didn’t attend it that year. In fact, we didn’t even help with cleanup the next day. My wife ended up in the hospital with a serious kidney infection, made all them more frightening in light of the fact that she has only one kidney.

Why does that Brooks and Dunn song call forth those memories? My whole address was based on that song. Every year we did a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of our kids from baby right on up through high school graduation wearing their caps and gowns. That song was the first that was supposed to play during the presentation. It was also the foundation for my address. But it didn’t play. Nobody heard it. So on top of sounding like a blabbering fool, my audience had no frame of reference for what I was saying. Meanwhile, my wife was sitting in the front row looking like death warmed over. That evening couldn’t have ended soon enough for either of us. 

I could probably list songs I have put in other PowerPoints for other graduations, but I would never be able to tell you anything about what happened during those evenings that was in any way associated with the music I had chosen.

Think about the power of music and the way it influences your life, how you feel, or your outlook on your own existence. What do you listen to when your in different moods? Are you looking to pull yourself out of a bad mood, maintain a happy one, or wallow in the pits of self-pity and regret?

Remember when Bubba shot the jukebox because it played a sad song that made him cry? Have you ever changed the station because you didn’t like the effect the song was having on you, how it was making you feel, or what it made you think of?

It’s all fair game. We’ve all done each of those things.

The Near Death Experience

In coming posts I’m going to discuss my views on things supernatural. These topics tend to generate a lot of disagreement, and therefore some vociferous debate. Fine, I can deal with that.

My first subject is the Near Death Experience (NDE).

If you do a search for near-death experiences on Amazon, you’ll get over 35,000 hits. Granted, some of those are going to be duplicates of one sort or another, but even if you remove those, it’s still going to be a whole lot of matches.

Raymond Moody, MD was the first to coin the phrase near-death experience in 1975 in his book Life after Life.

The International Association for Near-Death Studies describes an NDE as follows:

iands

near-death experience (NDE) is a distinct subjective experience that people sometimes report after a near-death episode. In a near-death episode, a person is either clinically dead, near death, or in a situation where death is likely or expected. These circumstances include serious illness or injury, such as from a car accident, military combat, childbirth, or suicide attempt. People in profound grief, in deep meditation, or just going about their normal lives have also described experiences that seem just like NDEs, even though these people were not near death. Many near-death experiencers (NDErs) have said the term “neardeath” is not correct; they are sure that they were in death, not just near-death.

Near-death experiencers (NDErs) have reported two types of experiences. Most NDErs have reported pleasurable NDEs. These experiences involve mostly feelings of love, joy, peace, and/or bliss. A small number of NDErs have reported distressing NDEs. These experiences involve mostly feelings of terror, horror, anger, isolation, and/or guilt. Both types of NDErs usually report that the experience was hyper-real—even more real than earthly life.

The IANDS web site is very informative and worth exploring. www.iands.org. There are many others that also deserve a look.

Opponents of NDEs say that they are just a natural part of the dying process. The neurological connections and chemicals in the brain going haywire and everything that the person experiences is an elaborate hallucination. This is an easy thing for someone who does not want to believe in a life after death to grab and hang on to. Especially for non-Christians.

proofofheavenI’ve read a lot of books on NDEs. The best one I’ve come across is by Dr. Eban Alexander, MD. Doctor Alexander is a neurosurgeon who did not believe in God. He thought that NDE’s were not real. Not that the people who experienced them were lying, but that their brain was simply enduring the dying process. He was a scientist and a surgeon. He specialized in the body’s brain and neurological systems. When you say, “It isn’t brain surgery!”, to him, it is. He knows how everything works. He knew for a fact that NDE’s were not out of body experiences of the realms of heaven and hell and encounters with angelic and demonic beings.

His own NDE changed his mind.

The name of the book is Proof of Heaven. When you search Amazon for NDEs, this book is at the top of the list. It’s well worth the read. There are a lot of video presentations and interviews of Dr. Alexander available on YouTube. His web sit is www.lifebeyonddeath.net.

Now, before you go expounding on Esquire’s article by Luke Dittrich debunking Dr. Alexander, read this rebuttal to his editorial by Robert Mays. Mr. Dittrich is less that honest and forthright in his own treatise of Dr. Alexander’s experience. He is someone who is so biased against NDE’s that he will resort to the most underhanded methods in an effort to disprove them and discredit Dr. Alexander.

Near Death Experiences aren’t all light and love. Some of them are dark, tormenting, painful, dismal, and utterly hopeless. Proof of Heaven is the story of one such hell experience. One of many. Some of these are saved from their torment and a heavenly experience follows before they return to their bodies. Others are brought out of hell and only experience the light and God’s love before their bodies are reanimated.

Some of the most interesting and convincing accounts are called veridical NDE’s. These are accounts of NDErs who see and hear what is happening on the earthly plane during the out-of-body experience, can remember what they experienced, and their stories can be verified. Some of them are outlined here at IANDS. These most dramatically prove that an NDE is not just the brain hallucinating while it is dying. Maria’s Shoe is Kimbly Clark Sharp’s story. She was a nurse in Seattle and one of her cardiac patients in CICU had died for some time and returned. She told Sharp she had experienced an NDE and told her there was a shoe on a ledge outside of the hospital on one of the upper floors on the other side of the building. Clark’s own NDE account, as well as Maria’s Shoe story, are described in her book After the Light.

On the other side, whether in heaven or in hell, time has no meaning. Some people are out of their body for only a few minutes, but reading what happened to them, you would think that it could not possibly take place during that time frame. Others are gone for an extended period of time, but their experience seems to last only moments. They arrive in heaven, are greeted, and immediately sent back. The spiritual realms exist outside of our own time and space, or dimension, if you prefer.

Although the details vary widely, the one thing that is common throughout them is that God’s ever-present, unconditional, greater-than-ever-experienced love is pervasive throughout. God knows our sin and loves us anyway. He doesn’t judge us, He lets us judge ourselves, and we are honest about our own condition. The love God has for us is expected to be practiced by us towards everyone else. Not just people we think are worthy, because we are not worthy of God’s love. To everyone. That’s consistent with what Paul tells us in I Corinthians 13:13, “The greatest of these is love.” Without that, you have nothing.

This is a very light touch on the subject; much more could be written.

I believe in them. Why? I see sufficient evidence to show that they are exactly as they are presented – Out-of-body experiences and subsequent journeys to heaven and/or hell, complete with encounters of heavenly and demonic beings. I do not have any reason to doubt the veracity of their claims.

What do you think?