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The Teacher Trumps The Who

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  • The Teacher Trumps The Who

    I really love the song “Eminence Front” by The Who. Great sound. Great lyrics. Eminence Front is about the futility of life and putting on a façade (an “eminence front” that is a “put on”) to try to avoid the reality of things. I think Pete Townshend and The Who were talking about the rich and famous in particular, but I also believe the story can apply to all people.

    The eminence front or façade talked about in the song is set up by having a good time: the sun shines (and people forget), the spray flies as the speedboat glides (and people forget, forget they’re hiding), the girls smile (and people forget), the snow packs as the skier tracks (and people forget, forget they’re hiding).

    What’s all this talk about “people forgetting” in the midst of the party life they’re having? Pete Townshend tells you in the next verse. In particular, people are trying their best to forget the reality of life, namely, that they’ll get old eventually (that big wheel spins, the hair thins), that they won’t be famous forever (the news slows), and that wealth can disappear in an instant (the shares crash, hopes are dashed).

    This song reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes is also about the futility of life and ways in which so many people try in vain to mask this fact through what the world has to offer. In Ecclesiastes, we’ve got Solomon, a king (son of David), who has the resources, fame, and curiosity to try everything “under the sun.” And he does try it all. But in the end, Solomon concludes that all is vanity (meaningless). First, he immerses himself in study. With respect to this pursuit, Solomon concludes that this actually makes things worse: “with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (1:18). He then pursues various different pleasures. “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll” is probably how we would describe what a modern-day Solomon was doing during this period of his life (“whatever my eyes desired, I didn’t keep from them.” 2:10). This also “proved to be meaningless” for Solomon (2:1). King Solomon then goes on to oversee the undertaking of various projects such as building houses and making reservoirs, then seeks to amass great treasure (2:4-7). Again, he concludes all is vanity: “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (2:11).

    However, unlike Pete Townshend and The Who, King Solomon offers a solution.

    First of all, Solomon tells us we should enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life and to take pride in the work that we do (9:7-10). This is an amazing conclusion in my opinion considering the source. We’ve all read stories of people who have had almost limitless wealth warning that money will not bring contentment and happiness. But in this case, King Solomon not only had limitless wealth (he made a hobby of collecting gold and silver and “the treasure of kings” for a time), but he set out to try everything else that the world had to offer and ultimately determined that everything came up short. Sex? He had a harem, baby. Partying? Did that. King Solomon had his own singers for entertainment, and he even owned a number of vineyards to make sure he never ran out of wine for his parties. In modern-day terms, this would be like having a few of your favorite bands living on the grounds of your estate and an awesome microbrewery in your backyard. How about intellectual pursuits? Solomon concludes that this actually made things worse, as discussed previously. So for a person with this background to say that all this is meaningless and far more meaningful is the enjoyment of the simple things in life, well, this is just amazing to me. And it would behoove all of us chasing after any or all of these things to take note of what this guy who had it all is saying.

    Secondly, King Solomon tells us that if we want to escape the futility of life, there is nothing more important than reverence toward God. I believe this is worthy of some reflection. If like me you believe that a creator of the universe must exist- that there necessarily must be a non-contingent being that has always existed to explain the existence of all of us contingent beings and everything else in the universe, you are then forced to come to many other conclusions. To provide a couple of examples, you are forced to conclude that such a being is very powerful (omnipotent most likely) and highly intelligent (omniscient for the most part with some limitations that are a result of the free will that God gives to all of us- self-imposed limitations for all practical purposes that are necessarily the result of making a universe that is non-deterministic). And if He is highly intelligent, there must be purpose to it all- it makes no sense to me that a highly intelligent being, indeed a being with a level of intelligence we cannot even begin to comprehend, would do things just for the hell of it and without a purpose. In other words, if there is a God, given the nature of such a being that necessarily must be, then we better take Him seriously.

    C.S. Lewis put it this way: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

    • Nagunae
      #5
      Nagunae commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Article: The Teacher Trumps The Who

      Thank you Scooby_Snacks and Silvermist! I'm actually a bit surprised that this was published. I initially wrote it as a Facebook post, mainly targeting an audience of old college pals who would all be familiar with the lyrics to "Eminence Front" from The Who but not necessarily with the book of Ecclesiastes. It's good see that this has a wider appeal than to a group of middle-aged former frat brothers!
      Last edited by Nagunae; Jun 3 2013, 02:12 AM. Reason: Wanted to check the box to subscribe to this thread.

    • bdh
      #6
      bdh commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Article: The Teacher Trumps The Who

      Originally posted by Nagunae
      I'm actually a bit surprised that this was published.
      Almost didn't However, when I was able to set aside my personal dislike for the who, I realized this article had a lot more meat in it than potatoes.

      You write well! We want more

    • Nagunae
      #7
      Nagunae commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Article: The Teacher Trumps The Who

      Originally posted by bdh
      Almost didn't However, when I was able to set aside my personal dislike for the who, I realized this article had a lot more meat in it than potatoes.

      You write well! We want more
      Thanks for the compliment! I will write more.
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    I really love the song “Eminence Front” by The Who. Great sound. Great lyrics. Eminence Front is about the futility of life and putting on a façade (an “eminence front” that is a “put on”) to try to avoid the reality of things. I think Pete Townshend and The Who were talking about the rich and famous in particular, but I also believe the story can apply to all people. The eminence front or façade talked about in the song is set up by having a good time: the sun shines (and people forget), th...
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