Saturday, January 14, 2012

An Agnostic Writes Religious Songs

Many of you probably remember Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's 1970 Grammy-winning song “Bridge Over Troubled Water."  Radio stations still play it.  Apparently the song was influenced by gospel music, and some have felt inspired by the lyrics (although the key line about the bridge was actually inspired by a Claude Jeter song from 1958).  Nevertheless, one of the authors, Paul Simon, now age 70, remains an agnostic.  One of his recent albums, "So Beautiful or So What" contains many spiritual images including God, angels, creation, pilgrimage, prayer and the afterlife. One Irish blogger suggested it could be the best Christian album of 2011. Who would have thought an agnostic could do that?

Raised in the Jewish faith through his bar mitzvah Simon admits he had no interest in religion at the time.  However, he claims that there has always been a spiritual dimension to his music, and it was especially evident in this latest collection of songs.  According to a Religious News Service article "Simon says the religious themes were not intentional—he does not describe himself as religious. But in an interview with the PBS program “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly,” he said the spiritual realm fascinates him.“I think it’s a part of my thoughts on a fairly regular basis,” he said.  “I think of it more as spiritual feeling. It’s something that I recognize in myself and that I enjoy, and I don’t quite understand it.”

For those who recognize the power of natural revelation as doorway toward potential faith, Simon's story may offer encouragement.  The article notes "Simon said the beauty of life and of the earth often leads him to thoughts about God.'How was all of this created? If the answer to that question is God created everything, there was a creator, than I say, Great! What a great job,' he said. But he said he won’t be troubled if it turns out there is no God. 'Oh fine, so there’s another answer. I don’t know the answer,' he said. Either way, he added, I’m just a speck of dust here for a nanosecond, and I’m very grateful.'”

Simon has not yet arrived at faith, however, and we pray that one day he will.  God has granted to him sufficient exposure to the Word, it seems, but he is still resistive.  At age 70 time is no loner on his side.  In a day when entertainers become lost in the morass of self-indulgence, Simon's journey is taking him in another direction.  Hopefully that journey will end at Christ.  

To read more go to "The long spiritual journey of Paul Simon" on the RNS site.

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