Leave it to me to find a way to interweave one of my favorite theologians with one of my favorite rock bands. But I have found a way. Actually, I noticed the coincidence a while back, and I believe that I even mentioned to a good friend of mine. But it’s time to post it. I was doing a BRICK yesterday (in triathlon that refers to a workout which consists of a bike followed by a run) and heard a particular song on an old playlist (it is a proven fact that you can train at greater intensity and for a longer duration while listening to music) and decided to put it out here.
The song is Best of Both Worlds, and, in my humble opinion, it is on the list of the greatest rock songs of all time. Great guitars. Sammy instead of Dave. Classic Van Halen sound. And who would guess, great lyrics that don’t focus on sex. Of course, Van Halen is partially known for lyrics with double meanings, the second meaning of which is often sexual, so I may be missing the boat here by refusing to look for the second meaning. Anyway, here’s the lyrics:
I need everything this life can give me.
Come on baby close your eyes.
Let Go. This can be everything weve dreamed
It’s not work, that makes it work, no.
Let the magic do the work for you.
Cause something reached out and touched me.
Now I see that all I want…
I want the best of both worlds.
And baby I know what its worth.
We can have have the best of both worlds.
A little heaven right here on earth.
There’s a picture in the gallery of a
Fallen angel looked alot like you.
We forget where we come from sometimes.
I had a dream it was really you.
You don’t have to die to go to heaven,
Or hang around to be born again.
Just tune into what this place has got to offer.
Cause we may never be here again.
Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis talks about how God is responsible for all truth, wherever we find it. And that wherever we find it, we should claim it. It is God’s truth whether it comes from scripture, church, a pastor, a rabbi, Buddha, Gahndi, Torah, New Testament, the Florida Gators, or a rock band. So I am claiming it.
NT Wright talks about how Christ referred to God’s kingdom as something that was both at hand and continually coming. My Jewish friends reading will not understand this, and I understand that they have no need for it, so they will have to accept my apologies for being so blatantly New Testament here. But NT Wright makes some important points for us as Christians, and this song speaks to it in a way. Dr. Wright returns to the more classically orthodox belief that Christ’s return will mark completion of a work that is currently underway, that being heaven (God’s realm) and earth (our realm) continually coming together. The culmination of that is God’s restoration of all of creation to himself and in the state that he originally intended. This makes much more sense to me than the current mainstream dualistic Christian belief that God is going to wisk those away who have jumped through the right hoops to some spiritual eternal existence with him while the bulk of mankind is sent to an eternal hell for punishment because they missed a few of the hoops. It also places our focus on what we can do here and now to make this world a better place rather than focussing on the avoidance of something, namely sin. When we spend our lives avoiding and sterilizing we forget to go out and do. I don’t think God intended that.
So Van Halen captures this thought first in the title. I want the best of both worlds, heaven and earth. Later in the chorus heaven on earth is even mentioned. I like that. There is also a bit of a sense that there is something unexplainable out there with words like “let the magic do the work for you,” and “something reached out and touched me.” But I perhaps like the bridge the best, and I especially like the line that you don’t have to die and go to heaven or hang around to be born again. We get so focused on what is out there in front of us and predicting what it actually is that lies out there in front of us that we forget to live now. We forget to “just tune in to what this place has got to offer because we may never be here again.” We fail to see how imposing our Christian religious beliefs on others can actually be very offensive and elistist. And then we hide behind the excuse that we are giving them ultimate truth so who cares if they are offended. Great stuff to remember, and I think about it ever time I hear this song.
So I may be reading a lot into it. I’m sure Van Halen wasn’t researching NT Wright when they penned these lyrics and then made a eleventy billion dollars off the song. They may actually be talking about sex. So maybe I out to be trying to find a way to link it to one of Rob Bell’s other works, Sex God. Either way. Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.