Society Magazine

"Isn’t That Exactly How We Imagine God?"

Posted on the 08 March 2015 by Brutallyhonest @Ricksteroni

Charlie Lehardy has a thing or two to say about Whiplash, the academy award winning film, and God.  It's good stuff:

Terence Fletcher is a sadistic, Machiavellian jazz instructor who believes the only way to create the next generation of musical greats is to push young musicians to the breaking point, and beyond. Andrew WhiplashNeiman is a drummer who believes he has what it takes to become great. Wanting to learn from the best, he joins Fletcher’s jazz studio, where he discovers that the pursuit of musical perfection will cost him more than he ever imagined.

In Damien Chazelle’s beautiful and disturbing film Whiplash, we are asked to consider the cost of reaching for greatness. Greatness must begin with talent, but talent must be refined and forged by hard work until it has become something rare, something approaching perfection. Is it possible that the pursuit of artistic perfection is so intrinsically righteous that it’s worth any price to get there?

Yes, says Fletcher. He justifies his harsh teaching methods this way: “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job.'” In Fletcher’s view, music is being ruined by mediocrity. Greatness can only be achieved when someone demands absolute perfection from us, and is unwilling to accept anything less.

Whiplash certainly raises interesting questions, but while watching this battle unfold, something else became apparent: to his students, Terence Fletcher is God. Not merely god-like — God incarnate.

Like God, Fletcher gives and Fletcher takes away. At a word, he lifts a student out of obscurity and places him among the elect; at another word, he casts that same student into the outermost hell where he is utterly forgotten.

Like God, Fletcher knows all. When he enters the studio for rehearsal, no one dares make eye contact. Every musician in the room feels naked and ashamed before this frightening man. They are each perfectly aware of their shortcomings, and they know too well that Fletcher knows them even better than they know themselves.

Like God, Fletcher will accept nothing short of musical perfection from his students, and his furious wrath is quick to consume those who rush or drag or simply can’t perform to his expectations.

Isn’t that exactly how we imagine God?

God is holy, perfect, just, infallible — everything we are not. We are his errant children who constantly fail to live up to his standards. We don’t play in God’s key, we can’t seem to keep up with his tempo, we can barely sight-read his music. We aspire to goodness and love, even greatness, but we always end up dropping our eyes in shame, painfully aware that no matter how hard we try, our Teacher is grievously disappointed with our performance.

And like young Andrew Neiman, when we are faced with the horrific prospect of living under God’s terrible judgment and always falling short, we respond by pushing ourselves even harder to try to earn his approval.

If that’s how you see God, and many people do, you’ve misplaced the most important pages of the musical score.

Finish with Charlie and be encouraged.


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