The Common Good

Giving, Receiving, and the Ethics of Music

What if music were ethics?

You know, the art of listening and producing sounds as ethics? 

I'm just thinking on the old blog here. I'm preaching next Sunday and I'm thinking about listening and music and how we learn to be good to one another. Somewhere someone wrote "It is better to give than receive."

I've often wondered what this means. Is it simply an injunction to be selfless and only give? Is it simply saying that to be in a position to give is more comfortable than to be in the position of receiving?

Maybe "It feels better to give than to receive" or "It's better for you to give..." I don't know exactly. But it's got me thinking about music.

To produce music, to give it if you will, one must necessarily receive something. One must listen as one plays. One must receive as one gives. The give-and-take of making music is an ethical act. What if our lives were more like making music? Would that change anything?

Sing a new song to YHWH. 

All the earth, the hills, the seas, they make music together for God according to the spiritual writings. They give because they receive. They give and they receive in one single movement of grace and harmony.

What do you think? Is music an ethical act?

Tripp Hudgins is a doctoral student in liturgical studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, Calif. You can read more of his writings on his longtime blog, "Conjectural Navel Gazing; Jesus in Lint Form" at AngloBaptist.orgFollow Tripp on Twitter @AngloBaptist.

Photo credit: Horiyan/Shutterstock.

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