Law—and the Best of the Human Spirit
“The real value of a human life … lies solely within the human spirit combined with the human brain,” Herbert Armstrong observed in his book Mystery of the Ages. “It should be stated at once that this human spirit is not perceived by the most highly educated psychologists, yet it is the very essence of the human mind.”
This is a tremendous reality that truly opens up our understanding as to how our God-given human potential can be released and fully developed in association with the Spirit of God—the very mind of our Creator!
Yet, even without the Spirit of God’s own mind in association with it, that human spirit is capable of greatness.
Witness God’s observation at Babylon that, having obtained earthly unity, “Behold the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Genesis 11:6). The trouble at that time in history was that, though the unity of command the human leadership enjoyed was unfettered, it was a unity born of a wrong spirit—a spirit channeling human endeavor into a direction diametrically opposed to the development of man’s God-given human potential.
So God put a stop to it all (verses 7-8).
But Herbert Armstrong recognized that it was possible—through the careful education of the human mind and the development and fine-tuning of skills and talents—for a single human being to reach great heights of expressing the very best that the human spirit was capable.
To showcase this, he created the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. Under the auspices of aicf, Herbert Armstrong brought the very best of human talent to Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, California, that many might benefit from enjoying and being inspired and uplifted by such talent.
Based on that precedent, Gerald Flurry established the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, which continues the legacy of showcasing world-class talent at the gemlike Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond, Oklahoma.
The two most recent performances at Armstrong Auditorium happened to feature America’s own unique contribution to world music—jazz. World-class saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet recently gave a scintillating performance at Armstrong. A week later, one of our own faculty musicians, pianist Mark Jenkins, featured together with a lineup of Edmond jazzmen and some of our own college talent in a performance rated highly by the audience.
As a lover of the jazz genre since my childhood, my mind was still dwelling on the success of those two concerts when news came this week of the death of my singular most outstanding hero of the American jazz scene, the venerable Dave Brubeck.
Brubeck became a household name following release of his iconic album Time Out in 1959. That was my final year at high school, and Time Out featured at just about every teen party as the year wound to a close.
The Dave Brubeck quartet had a profound effect on my own involvement in music at the time, and I formed a lifelong appreciation of the smoothly lyrical sounds of which a good quartet of the same makeup—piano/keyboard, bass, reed and drums—was capable of producing when obeying the God-breathed laws governing music.
My dad, when not backing a big band as drummer between the 1930s and ’50s, led a group of the same composition, based on an earlier example of the Benny Goodman small ensemble. For me, the Brubeck quartet took off from where the Goodman quartet left off.
The point is that, upon hearing of the death of Dave Brubeck on the eve of his 92nd birthday, I realized that one of the most influential of human spirits, especially in the jazz form of music, had ceased to be.
My disc library is heavily dominated by Brubeck. The fascination of his music—which featured some quite unusual time signatures and effective use of harmonic dissonance—was his ability to experiment with the musical form but always stay within the laws that control listenable music that’s beneficial to the human spirit.
There is a reason for this.
Brubeck understood that to be beneficial, to be uplifting to the human spirit, music needed to synchronize with the human body’s natural rhythms.
In his obituary on Brubeck for the New York Times, Ben Ratliff commented that “Mr. Brubeck once explained succinctly what jazz meant to him. ‘One of the reasons I believe in jazz,’ he said, ‘is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same anyplace in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born—or before you’re born—and it’s the last thing you hear’” (December 5).
We live today in a highly agitated and agitating society. Whole generations have grown up listening to music that is based on principles directly opposed to Dave Brubeck’s understanding that to be truly enjoyable, music must align with the beat of the human heart which controls the natural body rhythms necessary for true wellbeing.
Back in the 1960s, four young mop-haired Liverpudlian teens created a sound based on what is called the anapestic beat. That beat runs directly counter to the natural rhythms of the human heart. Ever since, the overwhelming majority of popular music themes has been set to that beat. How much has this contributed to the production of the most highly stressed, agitated and soulless generation in man’s history?
You see, it doesn’t matter what it is that man produces, if it is not in natural synchronization with the body rhythms that God placed within the human being for a purpose, the result will be negative.
Our editor in chief, Gerald Flurry, wrote a booklet called No Freedom Without Law. In it he clearly exposes the principle that the absence of God’s laws in any endeavor mounted by man will produce catastrophe.
Be it music or man’s continually unsuccessful search for peace with his fellow man, unless those endeavors are underpinned by God’s immutable laws governing human behavior, they are destined to end in abject failure.
Dave Brubeck hit upon a marvelous truth that governed his musical compositions and playing. The result was the production of a pleasing harmony when he sat down to perform with a group of musicians. When dissonance occurred it always sought and found a resolution in the natural rhythm of the heartbeat.
That same degree of harmony, at a very minimum, is being enjoyed today in their human relations by those who truly understand and apply God’s laws in their lives. It’s the type of harmony that leads a person to truly experience the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
You too can extricate your mind from the natural agitation and stress that a lawless society produces by determining to simply obey God’s laws in every aspect of your life.
To find out how that is possible, study that booklet, freely available on our website, No Freedom Without Law.