Thursday, September 27, 2012

Swaying To The Music

Dancing is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire. - Dorothy Parker
And we danced/On the wave of the Ocean Romance - The Hooters
 So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; nd when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, ‘How the king of Israel honoured himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!’ David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord.I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honour.’ And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.- 2 Sam 6:12b-16, 20-23
The best thing I did the past week was DJ the Homecoming Dance at my daughter's high school.  As an occasional professional disc jockey, there are few experiences guaranteed to make one know whether or not one is doing a good job than playing music for teenagers.  They will either pack the floor and scream at each new song, or stand around and mope.  There are always a few who insist the music isn't any good, or that no one is having a good time, or that because their request wasn't played, the whole dance was a waste of time and money.  You learn quickly you just can't please everyone, and that it's OK.  If you have a crowd of nearly five hundred, and over three hundred are dancing, with another 75-100 either on the way to or from the bathroom or getting a drink and someone comes up and says, "If you play this, you'll get people dancing," what else can you say but, "Sure.  OK."

At my daughter's school, the Administration isn't too pleased with the actions of some of the kids dancing.  It's called "grinding" and it is exactly as it sounds.  It sounds horrible, a bunch of teenagers for all intents and purposes dry-humping on the dance floor.  Except, of course, a moment's reflection should make people realize "kids today" aren't doing anything different from young people at any other time or place.  They're trying things out.  They're showing their disdain for the imposition of rules from above by flouting them in public.  They're expressing their joy at being physical creatures, sexual creatures who revel in the close proximity of another.

The principal used my microphone to announce that the grinding had to stop.  Before the dance began, however, he came up to me and told me that even if there was grinding going on, he wasn't going to stop the dance.  So, I wondered, why say anything at all?  If no punishment is going to flow, if there are no consequences for what the Administration insists are wrong actions, how, precisely, are they wrong?

Dancing is something we human beings enjoy.  Even if we don't do it well, the reality of translating sound in to movement, of celebrating our embodiedness is something that allows us the privilege to declare to the world, "Look at us!"  Part of being physical creatures is being sexual.  There has always been a sexual element to our physical existence.  There's no reason either to deny or denigrate it.  When it comes to young people, celebrating this particular aspect of life rises to the fore, as it were, when there's darkness and loud music and huge crowds and members of the opposite gender nearby.  Trying to stop it, or even curb it a little, is a bit like being King Canute demanding the tides move at his command.

As a Christian, it's a blessing to see and experience in all of life the moments when Divine Grace enters our world, even in the midst of sin.  We can no more separate sin from virtue than we can hydrogen from oxygen and still have water.  God created us as physical creatures and called it very good.  We live and celebrate that physical embodiment in any number of ways.  Including dancing in ways that announce our interest in and enjoyment of our sexuality.  Not only is there nothing wrong with this, it makes perfect sense.  Like David dancing before the parading Ark Of The Covenant, embarrassing Saul's daughter Michal, we should all take the time to act the fool, to offend propriety, because that just means we're human beings celebrating being human.

And that, my friends, is indeed a good gift from a good God.

Virtual Tin Cup

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