Soul Calculation

The other morning, I was downstairs early (as
per usual) catching up on the news (also as per
usual). Somewhere in some story I was reading,
there was a link to a video of a live concert. The
video included KISS at the Brooklyn Bridge
playing “Rock and Roll All Nite.” If I remember
correctly, the concert was in the mid 1990s.
Needless to say, I was disappointed. I will return
to my dissatisfaction in a moment.
Growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s,
my friends and I were huge KISS fans. In the
summers, in fact, we would do entire “air”
concerts in the garage at one of my friend’s
houses (other neighborhood kids would actually
attend these performances, believe it or not).
Jimmy was Gene Simmons (he had the tongue for
it). Randy was Ace Frehley. Cris was Peter Criss
(he had the name for it). And, although I as of yet
had no hair on my chest, I was Paul Stanley. We
did not wear the prescribed KISS makeup, but we
were otherwise remarkably energetic in our
shows. And we were convinced that we were
great. It is difficult to remember now, but I believe
our KISS fandom ultimately lasted only a few
summers.
As a middle-aged man, I now realize that our
air band was not great. In fact, we were awful.
None of us at the time knew how to play a real
instrument. But we boldly faked it “in the air,” even
though we had no true concept as to what it was
that we were faking. Watching that mid-90s KISS
video the other morning, I came to the conclusion
that KISS was also not that great (no offense
meant to any KISS fans who may be reading this.
Different strokes and all…). In reality, I thought
their live performance terrible. It was not at all
what I remembered from my youth. What I was
expecting to hear, based upon my ancient
knowledge of their discography, was not what I
actually heard. Admittedly, some will correctly
argue that live shows often fail to meet expectations because of fans’ familiarity with the
tracks on studio albums. But still, it was bad.
Really bad.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. As the years go by
and as we age, we often look back on our lives
and remember occurrences in ways that do not
coincide with reality. We imagine ourselves in
circumstances and situations that we think are
accurate, but frequently are not.
Time has a way of distorting what happened
in the past. This can be positive or negative. For
instance, it is not unusual to hear a dad regale
his children with tales of his former athletic
prowess—usually with misplaced facts and
“misremembered” events (probably guilty here).
At the same time, it is all too common for us to
reflect on what we have done poorly in our past,
and to experience again the shame and the
overwhelming sadness that we originally felt as a
consequence of our now-historical erroneous
choices. This latter habit is not healthy for our
spiritual—or for our emotional—wellbeing.
Being nostalgic is a customary human
endeavor. Each of us relishes the thought of
“reclaiming the glory days” that we may have (or
may not truly have) experienced earlier in life.
Memories can be cathartic and therapeutic,
regardless of the reliability of our recollection.
Past triumphs remembered often serve as a
timely tonic for present trials.
Alternatively, habitually evoking our personal
fiascoes tends to drag us into the realm of
spiritual lethargy. When we reside principally in
the world of our past humiliations, or even our
current humiliations, we are apt to set aside the
gifts that God has bestowed upon us. We tend in
our gloomiest moments of self-reflection to turn
inward, away from the colossal gifts that God has
granted us in Jesus Christ. By our own
selfishness (and make no mistake: selfishness is
absolutely at work when we regularly probe our
memories for evidence of our prior crimes in
order that we might wallow in the misery of our
defects), we limit the work of God in the world. In
those instants, we unfortunately—and often
unwittingly—reject the call that we have accepted
because of our faith in Jesus.
Let us not do that. Let us be the people of
God. Holy, forgiven, equipped, and forwardlooking. Let us be saved persons who know
without a doubt that God has a plan for his world,
and that we are summoned into that plan,
“forgetting what lies behind and straining forward
to what lies ahead.” –Ricky

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