I went to junior high and high school in the 1980’s. I grew up listening to Michael Jackson and Madonna on the radio. I remember watching music videos on MTV and “Night Tracks” and enjoying Duran Duran, Human League and Men Without Hats. My sister had a boyfriend who somehow got his hands on music that I couldn’t even hear on the radio, and I discovered a love for Depeche Mode, Erasure and O.M.D. He would make her an audio mixtape, and then she would copy them for me and I would listen to them over and over. (Dear FBI, I really hope the statute of limitations gives me a pass here. Thanks.) I went to scout camp once and another scout introduced me to Alphaville. I still remember getting chills the first time I heard “The Jet Set” pumping into my ears as we sat in our tent. (Just a sec, l’ve got to listen to that again…yep, still a great song!) When I was feeling down I would listen to Howard Jones’ “Things Can Only Get Better”, and I really would feel better. In 1989, the year I graduated from high school, the B-52’s came out with their “Cosmic” album which I couldn’t quit listening to, and then in 1990 Depeche Mode came out with “Violator”. That still might be my favorite album of all time.
My friends listened to rap like the Beastie Boys and Grand Master Flash, or harder stuff like Van Halen or Guns ‘n’ Roses. I grew to like that kind of music as well. One of my friends used to make fun of the Thompson Twins, so I figured not all of the music I liked was acceptable to the group I hung out with. I kept my love of what was called “new wave” to myself.
The other day I was in a coworker’s office and I overheard the music she was listening to. She’s from India, and although her Indian music sounded interesting and intriguing, my ear wasn’t used to it and it didn’t seem like something I would choose to listen to. Maybe if I listened to it more I could develop a taste for it, or maybe it’s something you have to grow up with. And maybe she would say the same thing about my 80’s new wave and 90’s alternative music. Our favorite music becomes a language that others may not appreciate as much as we do, because they grew up with something else.
I think religion is a lot like music. You might grow up with a certain religion, and that’s what speaks to you. You try other religions, but none of them resonate with you quite the way the religion of your youth does. Or maybe if you’re open to other ideas, you might find you can learn from other religions and add new concepts to your beliefs. Or maybe some religions are so foreign to your spiritual “ears” that you know it would just never work for you. Perhaps as you grow older you find your beliefs evolving. What once was familiar and comfortable seems strange, because your understanding has evolved into something different.
Is 80’s music “true”? What would that even mean? No, of course it’s not true. It works for me, but one of my kids complains he prefers to listen to something else. In the same way, I don’t see any religion as strictly true. There is truth in any religion as long as it inspires its followers. If no one found use in a particular religion, that religion would disappear because it wouldn’t have any adherents. I don’t feel the need to try to persuade people to accept my religious beliefs, just like I won’t try to convert them to 80’s music. If someone wants to know what I believe and why, or what music I like and why, I’m happy to talk about it, but I won’t expect to change their minds. Hopefully they won’t expect to change my mind either. The world is better off that way, don’t you think?