Thursday, December 27, 2012

Storm, part one (no music in Alabama, Iran, or England)

John Bredehoft of Total Plumbing Services is not the only Bredehoft with an Alabama connection. Several of my relatives hail from Guin in Marion County, northwest Alabama, which is where you will find Liberty Christian Academy, a ministry of the First Free Will Baptist Church in Guin. Students at Liberty Christian Academy must meet conduct standards that are foreign to many of us:

A sense of the need for spiritual growth in the light of these principles has led Liberty Christian Academy to adopt the following standards which are conducive to the environment that will best promote the spiritual welfare of the student. The school, therefore, requires each student...whether at home, school, or elsewhere... refrain from swearing, attendance at movie theaters, indecent language, smoking, drinking, alcoholic beverages, the abuse of drugs, gambling, dancing, involvement in rock music, touching or over familiarity with the opposite sex.

For those who thought that the movie Footloose was a complete work of fiction, read that last paragraph again. But these sentiments are not unique to Guin, or to the 20th and 21st centuries. If you go back several centuries, you can find similar views in certain Christian circles.

The Puritan minister Cotton Mather wrote in the 17th century that dancing was a creation of the devil, and warned that a “CHRISTIAN OUGHT NOT TO BE AT A BALL” [capitalization from original].

But before you completely condemn Liberty Christian Academy and Cotton Mather, note that they did not ban ALL music.

Ali Khamenei, the supreme religious leader of Iran, has made several pronouncements regarding music.

Q: What type of music is forbidden?

A: Music performed exclusively in debaucherous (lahw) circles is forbidden.

Q: What is the ruling on teaching various musical instruments to children at or near the age of puberty?

A: The matter of teaching music relates the basic ruling on music. In a general sense, the teaching of music is not compatible with the goals of an Islamic order. To teach music during the most suitable ages for learning is not devoid of corruption and sedition (mofsedeh).

Q: With regard to the teaching of music, I note respectfully that, replying to the above question, you stated in writing that the teaching and propagation of music is inconsistent with the goals of the blessed order of the Islamic Republic. Is the above ruling one of guidance, or an official governmental ruling? It is worth noting that some responsible parties recommend the teaching of music, especially for the youth. My humble question is: What is the concensus opinion between yourself and those who favor the teaching of music to the youth?

A: The teaching and playing of music to and by the youth causes them to deviate and results in corruption, and thus, is not permissible. In general, the propagation of music in not compatible with the goals of the Islamic order. It is not permissible for people to use their own preferences and inclinations in the name of culture and the art of teaching and training the youth.

These restrictions on teaching music to youth are not restricted to Iran. They can also be found in England. There you can find the story of an eight year old girl whose mother remarried. Her new stepfather "banned music from their household, claiming it to be an unholy waste of time." Since the girl loved music, this became too much to bear, and she left home at age 17. Several years later, in 2005, the girl (now a grown woman) spoke about this decision.

Despite the times when my step-father did help with my homework and attempt to lift my spirit, which I am grateful for, the values of my mother and stepfather in general were very different to my own and this certainly led to tensions. I continued to live at home for almost 10 years but during my A-levels I knew it would be best to leave. So I began living at my father’s house.

I felt very unhappy about leaving my sister because I knew my decision would be hardest for her to accept. I had to rely on the hope that, remembering how diffi cult it had been for me, she might understand. Luckily for me, she does and I know we will always have the bond that first made me feel less alone all those years ago. As for my mother and stepfather, our relationship actually improved dramatically once I had moved out. I feel closer to both of them now than I ever did before. I think this is partly because there is less stress on the family as a whole.

The 2005 interview does not mention retrospect, a curious omission.

To be continued.

(Postscript: if you were a member of the Empoprises Public Community on Google+, you would already know what I'm going to be saying in the next post, and what the "storm" is that I'm talking about in the title.)

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