In the days of my teenage youth, there was a late-night radio show I would occasionally try to catch because it would feature new music and/or new bands. The show was called The King Biscuit Flower Hour. The show would air Sunday nights. Sometimes, if I tuned in too early, I would have to sit through another radio show, The Cosmic Muffin. The Cosmic Muffin was an astrology show offering horoscopes for the week. I really had no interest in horoscopes, all I was interested in was King Biscuit. However, there was one thing that always stayed with me about The Cosmic Muffin, the host, Darrell Martinie, would sign off with, “It is a wise person who rules the stars, it is a fool who is ruled by them.”

I figured these words of wisdom could be applied to other pleasures such as music. For that matter, one may substitute just about any political, social, or cultural influence.  Plug in the substitute, it would read, “It is a wise man who rules the music, it is a fool who is ruled by it.”  Music has been and is still very influential on youth and society. Although, social media and gaming may now have taken the lead in that category.

Lent is an opportunity for the renewal of our mind. It is a time to discern God’s will through meditation and prayer. To stay focused on renewal, it will be necessary to put aside the pleasures that distract us.

Since the 1960’s, American music culture has been overtly political, and morally rebellious. Modern music has encouraged bad behavior and influenced ideologies. Of course, I do not want to paint with a broad brush. I am sure there has been secular music that has inspired good deed-doers and pioneers. But there is no doubting that influential musicians have held wide-ranging, often controversial, cultural and social positions. Some early influencers of music culture and ideology were Bob Dylan (who said the answer to war was “blowing in the wind”), The Rolling Stones (they asked for “sympathy for the Devil”) and most famously, John Lennon (he “imagined” a Marxist utopia). As sure as time marches on, artists will influence the masses. Midnight Oil sang about global warming, Pink Floyd wanted the Berlin Wall to come down, George Thorogood “drank alone”, and Cyndi Lauper told us girls “just wanted to have fun”. (I could go on – you get the picture.)

However, today we are bombarded from multiple directions. Political and social messaging is aimed at forming cultural values, values that are not compatible with Christian morals. Political and social messaging is generated by political parties, the mainstream news, Hollywood, professional sports, large corporations, and institutions of higher learning, all in an effort to put themselves “On the right side of history”.

This point is where we learn from Saint Paul. Paul calls out the Roman church in Romans 12:1-2:

  “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2

Paul, appealing to the church in Rome, warns that evil threatens those who belong to Christ. He asks them to “discern” God’s will. They are being tested by evil forces. Two thousand years later, things have not changed. Evil has and continues to threaten those who belong to Christ.

Paul asks the Christians in Rome not to “conform” to this world. Again, we see Christians today are no different than those in ancient Rome. We are exposed to the pressures of culture, pressures of this world. Evil presents itself within culture in an appealing way, which pressures the Christian to conform.

Our lives are made new as our minds are made new. For the gift of grace is so great, to honor Him we “present”, or give ourselves entirely, to Christ as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1, ESV). A new mind will know and understand what is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, ESV).

Lent is an opportunity for the renewal of our mind. It is a time to discern God’s will through meditation and prayer. To stay focused on renewal, it will be necessary to put aside the pleasures that distract us.

As we enter the Lenten season, let us ask God for the courage and self-discipline to enter the desert, a place where culture is void and the world is filtered. Let us journey in; repent, fast, pray and worship, so that we may come out with a “renewed mind”.

The Lord’s Peace,

Deacon Doug Stomberg

Deacon Doug Stomberg
Deacon Doug Stomberg

Deacon Doug Stomberg serves on the Diaconate of Holy Communion Anglican Church. In addition to his many years of ministry experience, he is a passionate writer, critic of secular culture, a skilled machinist, a loving husband and father of two sons.