Ahh. Today we continue with our new theme of “The Roaming Reader,” begun a month ago in my last post, while I was still in Florida. It has been a hard month of adjustment for me. So, while I did write a draft of what should be the next article two weeks ago, I lacked the drive and clarity to revise and ready it for posting. This is not that essay. I have saved it and may use parts of it at times.
This post is supposed to center on the concept of “order” presented in Russell Kirk’s classic, The Roots of American Order. “Order” holds a ton of meaning and layers of application. So interesting. Order is ubiquitous. It exists in material reality and immaterial reality. When order is absent, its lack increases its importance. When order is compromised, a disequilibrium ensues. Order, disorder, and chaos.
Order is personal. Order is social. Order is political. Order is theological. Order rules biology, chemistry, physics, history, and the arts. Order is essential for life.
Let’s start with “order is personal.” For me. Returning home from the sunny south to the cool, often gray barely spring Indiana has left me sad and sadder. (Yet — anticipation– spring is budding.) Our roots in Fort Wayne are still quite shallow, so I don’t have a full world to return to here.
World. Now, there’s a word that brings us back to Russell Kirk, and what is order, anyway?
Kirk entitles his first chapter “Order, the First Need of All.” A need is something necessary for life. By describing order as the first need, Kirk relates “order” to “roots” — what is fundamental, essential, and vital.
Kirk writes, “Order is the path we follow, or the pattern by which we live with purpose and meaning.”
Kirk explains, “This word ‘order’ means a systematic and harmonious arrangement — whether in one’s own character or in the commonwealth. Also ‘order’ signifies the performance of certain duties and the enjoyment of certain rights in a community: thus we use the phrase ‘the civil social order.'”
Note the two layers Kirk identifies: order “in one’s own character” and order “in the commonwealth.” Throughout the 477 pages of his volume, The Roots of American Order, Kirk moves between these two layers and shows their connection to each other. Whenever I saw them as I read, I highlighted or marked them.
I copied and pasted the above highlighted paragraphs from the post I wrote several weeks ago that I didn’t publish. Order. It’s as fundamental as the oxygen we breathe. Without order, oxygen could not exist. I’m getting so basic, you may be rolling your eyes.
We take so much for granted in life, as we must — because we are finite (can we say, so very finite?) and because taking most reality for granted is necessary to sanity. We can’t think about everything. I think taking a huge amount of reality for granted is a backwards compliment to God. It demonstrates faith — our trust in His ways, His rule. His order.
Scriptures reminds us that ” He [Jesus] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Hold together. The KJV and NKJV translate “hold together” as “consist”. “…In Him all things consist.” Order. Jesus is the source of all order.
How do I know the “He/Him” is Jesus”? Textual context. Move back to verse 9 and read . By Verse 12 we are instructed to give “thanks to the Father,” and verse 13 extends the thought: “For He [the Father] delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son”, and verse 14 continues, “in whom [the beloved Son] we have redemption, and forgiveness of sins.” Then verse 15 declares, “And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” Verse 16 explains, “For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Verse 17 continues, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
“The beloved Son” holds all things together. Including me. His order (rule, pattern, arrangement of reality, beauty) holds me together.
Order is personal. Order is cosmic. The cosmic and personal ordering of the beloved Son, who is precious to me, holds me when I cannot hold myself together.
I’ll get back to Kirk’s American order, but for this post I need to focus on spiritual order, the order of my heart.
A strange thing happened to me a few months ago that relates directly and deeply to order. After my cousin, Sherrie, died (two days before Christmas) I listened to Mark Lowry singing his beautiful Christmas reflection, “Mary, Did you know?” I listened to him tell how he developed the lyrics. I studied the lyrics more carefully, reading the biblical text behind the lyrics, considering both what we know and what we don’t know about Mary and her culture.
Then I started listening to some Gaither music that is available on YouTube, something I had not done nor had been interested in doing. (Mark Lowry used to sing in The Gaither Vocal Band.) On my little laptop, I can control the volume, limiting the vibration and eliminating surround sound, while monitoring the length of my listening. You see, part of my physical disorder is hypersensitivity to sound and vibration (partly because sound stimulates nerve ending pain, which I always have, ebbing and flowing all day and night long).
So, over the last 20 years, I’ve been rather relegated to either home or back rows. If I’m out in public, I usually don’t last long. (I can handle more restaurant noise than I used to, but it still is disturbing and draining.) My tolerance depends upon my stamina and energy. Sounds that seem normal to others are often alarming to me. This is a sad disorder. My body is not tempered for this loud world. You recognize the social impact of this. I must be patient and acquiesce to this reality, but sometimes sadness can paralyze me emotionally.
My father’s family was/is very musical. My dad and his sisters loved Gaither music and I remember that my aunts loved to go to Indianapolis for Gaither Homecoming concerts. Cousin Sherrie was a lovely musician and oozed of song. Her clear, sweet voice, the voices of other relatives singing, and Sherrie’s distinctive piano style — all live (without vibration) in my head. So, why did Gaither music, suddenly, after Sherrie graduated to Heaven, grab my interest? It seems to be a consolation from my family in heaven, as part of that great cloud of witnesses, consoling and inspiring me– awaiting me and awaiting those with me whom I love.
This “seeming” was affirmed at Sherrie’s Celebration of Life service held on March 26 during which two videos produced by the Gaither team where included in the program. I had to leave the auditorium and stand in the foyer because the sound/vibration was too much for me (sigh), but I heard them and took them to heart: “No More Night” sung by David Phelps and “Knowing What I Know About Heaven” sung by Guy Penrod. Someday, when I have a glorified body, I’ll absorb the power of sound with great joy.
Music fully demonstrates the glorious attributes of order. Meditate on this. What constitutes music? All of its elements are orderly, capable of uniting the intellect, spirit, emotion, and affections. Music lives in both the material and immaterial worlds. Order in music is a divine demonstration of the Creator’s loveliness.
So, I’ll close by referring you to some Gaither Music below (and we’ll get back to books next time). Listen to it in segments, a little here and a little there. (This collection is over three hours long.) Pay attention to Gloria Gaither’s commentary and consider what insight or good you can take from it. Listen to the words of the hymns and songs. Always connect Scriptural backstory and texts into the lyrics (adding to, adjusting or correcting as you see needed). And I think that in these overwhelmingly confusing times, you’ll find with me much spiritual uplift and strength. Through music we can carefully hear His Beautiful Order resonating.
Your article on order was interesting and reminded me of how much I need order in my life on a daily basis.I love the Father music, too. Love you