You see, Beck released Song Reader not as a CD, or a download, or even vinyl, but as sheet music.
That’s so Gutenberg!
Let me be clear: Beck released Song Reader with the intention that the actual performance of the songs would be carried out by people who bought the music. They would determine the character of the songs, based on his suggestions and music (folks could then submit their performances).
It’s a lesson about so much: not only about how we used to consume music (sheet music used to be enormously popular in the early 20th century) but about what art actually is and where it “resides.”
But I’d like to suggest that Beck’s idea can teach us something compelling about the Bible.
N.T. Wright uses this great analogy about how the Bible for us is sort of like a script to a great play without a written ending. We’re stuck, right now, in the gap between what’s written and the ultimate fulfillment of our story (in Revelation 21).
And, as Wright puts it, it’s up to us to improvise.
Now, we don’t improvise in a way that is inconsistent with what’s written before; but we also don’t simply repeat the earlier acts. We symbolically “write” our own stories into the play, knowing that eventually the whole thing is going to be resolved by Jesus.
In this same way, Song Reader reminds us that we have the opportunity to take the “song” that’s been given to us—the command to love God and love others—and perform it in new and compelling ways.
Our song may not sound like everyone else’s; it’s really not supposed to.
It’s supposed to be our “performance” of what’s been given to us.
Are you singing? Are you playing?