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08 July 2011

Imitator or Fan?

I haven't always liked Boston (the band; I don't even know what to think about the city, having never been there, and I'm not much for any kind of baked beans). In the early '80s my brother would plug an eight-track tape of Boston's eponymous album into the stereo of his '77 Mustang II (it was the best-looking Mustang II I've ever seen, hands-down), and I'd plead with him to change it. The organ, in particular, was incredibly cheesy and 1970's-sounding, and I was into anything but retro music. I hated it. At some point not too much later, though, I realized that the band was phenomenal and their music style was incredibly unique, and at that point I became a fan. (Have a look below; who wouldn't be a fan?!)


On the way home from work not long ago I was listening to "Hitch a Ride" with my 12-year-old daughter (who was introduced to Boston's music while playing Guitar Hero III, I believe). As the first solo instrumental wound down and the acoustic guitar began to pave the way for the upcoming incredible guitar goodness, I commented to Alaina, "This has always been one of my favorite guitar solos." We then proceeded to listen to -- you guessed it -- one of my favorite guitar solos. It's still amazing to me after all these years.

As the song wrapped up I casually thought, "Tom Scholz is really one of my biggest guitar influences." The other side of my brain would not let this statement go unchecked and immediately fired back, "Oh. Really? Name a song you've recorded that gives any indication of sounding like Tom Scholz." The first side of my brain thought for a moment and grudgingly conceded to the second. "Okay, so maybe I just like Tom Scholz's playing a whole lot." Both brain sections agreed.

There is a major difference between liking someone and being influenced by him. If I like someone, then that's that. If I claim to be influenced by him, there will be some change in me associated with my listening to his music. Otherwise there wouldn't really be any influence. If I say that one of my musical influences is Floyd Cramer, but you listen to every one of my songs and realize that there's not a shred of his style, feel, chord voicings, etc., then you'll wonder why I said he was an influence. On the other hand, if I said that Floyd Cramer was one of my favorite pianists, you could easily believe it even after listening to all my Floyd Cramer-less songs.

There's a major difference between liking Jesus Christ and being influenced and changed by Him. Many people -- most people alive, surely -- would agree that Jesus was an incredible teacher and gave moral lessons that are excellent. Others will not only like Him and His teaching, but will actually follow Him and will become imitators of Christ -- imitators of God. (This is all over the Word; places like Leviticus 19:2 (and 1 Peter 1:15-16), Luke 6:35-36, John 20:21, Ephesians 5:1-2, 25-26, Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 12:2-3, etc.)

It's pretty easy (and sometimes unfortunately it feels satisfying) to pinpoint this in someone else's life, but how about your own? Who are you? If you had to take a good, hard look at your life, would you find that you're a Jesus imitator or simply a Jesus fan?


Tony M said...

Very thought provoking. I have nothing to add, just wanted to say this is probably one of your best posts (at least in recent memory). I think I'll have to re-read this at least a dozen times - reminder, let it really sink in, etc.

Dean Lusk said...

Thanks, Tony! That means an awful lot coming from you. By the way, I made it most of the way through your "Lucky Cars" post while eating lunch yesterday. Plan to finish it up today. (It's a two-episode novella.) :-)

Jeff said...

Dean, this is great stuff. I will most likely be "influenced" by it, as I foresee myself posting paraphrases already in the near future. Citations will follow, lest you fear"copyright infringement to be the imminent result. ;)

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