The Musical Divide
As the son, grandson and great grandson of activist ministers, I have been influenced to make religion an essential part of my daily life and examine its importance in the lives of human beings around the world. My research on religion taught me that music is a powerful vehicle in faith because it influences people to develop a deeper emotional bond with God. By singing to and about God on a regular basis individuals can experience a very personal and lasting connection to both the worship service and their Lord.
Many people believe that God has given human beings the gift of music to bring them together. However, throughout history, music has fueled religious differences. There is clearly a doctrinal divide among the religions of the world. However, I am convinced that the musical divide (because of the powerful connection between music and human emotion) is one of the major reasons for the intensity of the doctrinal divide and religious warfare. This deep musical divide in religion takes place because there is a lack of sensitivity to the “Musical Influences“ of others.
Whether we want to admit it or not, as human beings, we are a product of our influences in life. The language we speak, the food we eat, the people we find attractive, our political views, our occupation, etc. are determined largely by the unique mix of influences in our lives. This fact is at the heart of the religious music divide.
Throughout human history there has been a passionate debate about music. People argue intensely that their favorite music is the best music of all time. I have enjoyed telling people that my research on Intelligent Influence (for my book of the same name found on www.IntelligentInfluence.com) has enabled me to identify the “best” music in human history. When I say that to someone they usually look at me skeptically and ask me “What do you think is the best music?” I respond by saying “The best music ever created is the music that people hear between the ages of 10 and 20.” Most people take a second to think about my statement and respond with “You are so right! I never thought of it that way.”
This critical and challenging time in every human being’s life is a period when they use music to help them through the emotional, developmental and intellectual challenges they face when growing up. Most people on earth are influenced to fall in love (typically for the rest of their life) with the popular music on the radio, television, record/CD players and the internet that helped them mature through puberty to adulthood.
The religious music chasm is rooted in the way that people have been influenced to worship (or not worship) God (especially during the ages 10 to 20). The extent of this influence is directly related to the amount of time and intensity of the music a person is exposed to. Most people do not listen to religious music as much as they do secular music. However, the intensity of the music at their favorite religious institution subconsciously increases the power and influence of that type of music on their psyche.
Many individuals, who grew up in the traditional church, mosque, temple, synagogue, etc., are influenced to believe that the traditional music of their place of worship represents the only “true” religious music. Others, who attend more modern religious institutions on a regular basis, are influenced to feel that their modern version of religious music is the only way to connect with God. This “Musical Arrogance” is at the heart of the music-driven conflict between religious institutions.
The United Hymnal
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “Hymn” as simply “a song of praise to God.” A “Hymnal” is therefore a collection of songs of praise to God. Over the years I have developed a passion for writing and studying hymn music. In my research, I was surprised to discover that there was no Christian hymnal that celebrated traditional hymns; gospel and praise music equally. I therefore was not surprised to find that there is no hymnal that contains the songs of praise to God of the four most influential religions of the world-Christianity; Hinduism; Islam and Judaism.
I have been deeply troubled by the human suffering caused by religious zealots in each of these faiths. I feel compelled to attempt to do what little I can to bring people together through music. The Intelligent Influence framework has inspired me to create something that I call the United Hymnal (both electronically and in traditional book form) to enable people to understand the power of worshipping God through different religions and music.
This one of a kind hymnal will celebrate the music of different Christian denominations and reduce musical arrogance throughout the globe. My hope is that the United Hymnal will influence people to respect other religions, eliminate the religious music divide and prove to the world that people who truly believe in God have many things in common. If this hymnal is well-received, then another hymnal will be developed to celebrate the music of Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity and any other religion that believes in one divine God.
I recognize that as this project receives greater visibility it is likely to be criticized by those who use religious differences to gain political power within their religion. However, those who truly believe in God will understand the need for a hymnal designed to bring a divided religious world together through music. I clearly cannot do this alone. I am hoping to connect with people who believe in God and the power of bringing people together through music.
If you are interested in helping me create the United Hymnal please email me your contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org. My team will let you know where we are in the process of developing the hymnal and how you can help. Our goal is to provide the most powerful Christian hymns sung in the "Traditional", "Praise" and "Gospel" music styles in an e-book, on an app accessible on all platforms and on the website www.UnitedHymnal.org by 2016.
I look forward to working with you to bring the world together through religious music.