Yet there is something in us, some testimony that rebels. Eternity in our hearts. Denying the numinous doesn't remove its existence. Andris Nelsons, CBSO conductor, said, "All of us need music and culture - it's food to the soul." Some great composers, he said, address civilisations, but Tchaikovsky (of this evening's concert) speaks to each of us personally, to our hearts.
I believe we have a physical body and a soul. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, whether or not you believe in God, I think people believe that there is a soul and a body. You need food for your body, you need to eat and exercise to satisfy your physical body, but there is a soul that needs to be satisfied too, and it can be satisfied of course through love, but for me music is the most beautiful form of satisfaction. Even going to a rock concert can do this, I wish I had time to go, but classical music fills me up and makes me happy. [Nelsons in a BBC interview.]Thus music could so easily become an idol for me - for joy, glory, beauty, harmony; it stirs the soul. But music is not the highest goal or satisfaction. It is but a pale whisper on the outer edges of the reflection of the outskirts of the glory of God's creation. And music is a punishing idol. Nelsons remarked that never very far from a musician is the question, "To be or not to be?" It is an unending, unquenchable search for joy if limited to music. Is this it?
So how do I avoid idolatry when I feel the pull of the numinous in God's creation? Perspective. Looking through the created to glory in the Creator, for one thing. For another, just as I went into this evening's concert, I heard news from one of my CUs who ran a lunchtime event today for non-Christians - far beyond anyone's expectations, two dozen non-Christians came, and engaged with good questions, and asked for more such events. As I left the concert hall, I heard further that several non-Christian friends then also came to the CU meeting later, and one of these students may yet read Mark's gospel with a CU member. Beauty, joy, and truth? The numinous? Light? "This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." [John 17.3]