From Heavenly Harmony
Musical Chains of Gold
In the opening chapter of his 1969 book, An Antique Drum, Tom Howard describes two radically different ways of looking at the world, two opposing "myths" that inform perception, thought, and action. According to the "antique" mind, all experiences in the natural world—the created world—are meaningful because they are "images" or exhibitions or cases in point of the way things are. (The subtitle of Howard's book is The World as Image.) According to the new myth assumed by the modern mind, the things we experience in the world don't mean anything; they just are.
Howard playfully reminds his readers that the old myth was characteristic of the era conventionally regarded today as the "Dark Ages." Now that Enlightenment has come, we can put away childish things. Before, all earthly experiences—sights and sounds, colors and fragrances, birds and beasts, springtime and harvest—could be regarded "as epiphanies of what was true at the heart of the matter." That essential connection between the temporal and the eternal was the bond that established the value and validity of the mundane: the mundane was never merely mundane. Now, isolated in the immanent frame of a diligently secular age, the earth is not charged with the grandeur of anything (or Anyone).
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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