NOTE: Some scriptural references are used to support the speakers words. Other times, references are used ironically to counterman the speaker’s words. Use the context of the speaker and scripture to determine the proper meaning.

Parts 1 2 3 4

So it was that Mr. Magician completed his interview of all the towns people. They decided to do just one style of music for the first night, the most popular of course. It was the melancholy style that one over all (also the main style of the day). The only problem was finding any sort of musician to volunteer for this ordeal. Mr. Magician resorted to paying someone to play for the people. The best lot he could find was a singer named Caterwaul, a violinist named Cacophony, and a player of the lyre named Toneless.

Caterwaul was a stately women who dressed well above her means. Her husband, Acquiescence, usually had to work nonstop (accept the few hours he was allowed to sleep) merely to meet her demands. She had no qualms trusting in her own ability to sing. Thus, she sung in unremitting fortissimo. Her own voice to her own ears was was that of a choir of angels; however, to everyone else it sounds more like a festival of demonic cicadas. The voice was like a mixture of yodeling and opera, but a bit off key with every other note.

Caterwaul: Alright everyone! Let’s put this all together now!

The musicians began to strum and bow as Caterwaul belted out so loud the instruments could hardly be heard. Popularity turned to look at Mr. Magician and Numbers at this point.

Popularity: I think they are practicing three different songs right now.

Numbers: No, it’s the same song. There’s no way this will work.

Mr. Magician: Give it some time, this is only their first practice together.

Numbers: I don’t think all the time in the world could improve this bunch. Popularity, should we take another route?

Mr. Magician: Are the lyrics even that good? They seem not really to be saying anything at all.

Popularity: The lyrics are gold; I wrote them myself.

Mr. Magician: What are they about exactly?

Popularity: Oh, well they just make you feel better about yourself with themes from the Bible.

Numbers: That’s right, you don’t want to be too specific; otherwise you would exclude some people. We’re not about exclusion. There should be no obstacles for these people to come through our gate and state the magic phrase.

Mr. Magician: They should feel better about themselves? When I heard from the Evangelist, I was under such conviction and compulsion to change! (John 16:8) That’s what set me out on this journey, not feeling better about myself (Jer. 23:16-17).

Popularity: Ah, that’s what makes you better than that old Evangelist. You see, we have something better, not something offensive. We can get people through the gate without making them feel bad.

Numbers: That’s right. When you make people feel bad, they don’t want to continue to hear what you have to say. If you want to have all the people hear you out, you’ve got to make them feel good about themselves.

Mr. Magician: I don’t know…

Popularity: Just listen to this verse of the hymn, and you will most certainly agree.

The great sea is ever before me
Crashing waves as far as I can see
I want to fall into it as Your love
Soaring high above as a dove
You called me to overtake the grave
And you have made me so brave
Over me you crash your waves
Over me you crash your waves
Over me you crash your waves

Evangelist: Yes, I hear a number of problems with these lyrics.

A slightly noticeable furrow pronounced in Popularity’s brow. Numbers immediately vanished. Mr. Magician was shocked to see Evangelist there for the practice.

Popularity: Good sir, this is just practice, the townsmen aren’t allowed in at this time.

Evangelist: I’m no mere townsmen, I am a guardian to these men’s souls here (1 Pet. 2:25).

Popularity: Well, sir, these souls are in very good hands. Mr. Magician and I are leading them promptly to the wicket gate through our songs.

Evangelist: The Bible describes “waves” as God’s judgement (Genesis 6, Psalm 88:7), chastisement (Jonah 2:3) or at least as trials (Psalm 42:7). Not as God’s love, or something any Biblical author would chant to have crash over him (nor is it ever described as God’s love). Also, God may not decide to make you brave, but he may make you a coward so that you can depend on him more. Finally–

Popularity: Enough of this! We don’t need to hear it! (Prov. 18:2). Sorry, but these things seem so petty. So what if analogize attributes of God in a way the Bible doesn’t? People do it all the time.

Evangelist: All in all, these lyrics create self-dependency rather than a God-dependency. We cannot overcome the grave by ourselves (2 Cor. 1:9).

Popularity: We’ve never said that. Now please, stop accusing us of things just to promote your own name. The Bible does say not to judge does it not?

Evangelist: You are a fool above all fools! The only person promoting his own name around here is you!

And with that, Evangelist left the immaculate garden and went his own way.

Popularity: Could you not see the green in his eyes? His jealousy has finally reared its ugly head.

Mr. Magician: Yeah, I guess so. We are so much better off than that old man, he decided to attack us.

Popularity: You see, the old way is not always the best way. He’s just decided to defend some tradition rather than focusing on getting people through the gate.

Mr. Magician: That’s what really matters.

Popularity: Exactly. Now, if there were only some way to make this band sound any better.

Mr. Magician: I’ve got just the thing!

With a wave of his magic wand and a few magic words, wands appeared and magically floated in front of the musicians. A wooden box appeared in front of Mr. Magician.

Popularity: What is that thing?

Mr. Magician: Just watch.

Mr. Magician waved his wand over what he called his sound box, and (almost miraculously) the band’s sound improved. Caterwaul no longer sounded so overly gaudy and off-key. The instruments could then be heard in unison and at an excellent blend with the singer.

Popularity: What a wonder! You truly are an excellent magician! Your face will surely be posted everywhere, and your name will be passed on for generations for bringing people to the wicket gate.

Mr. Magician: What a gracious complement. However, you sir are the one who crafted such excellent lyrics. Tell me more about how you pull that off.

Popularity: Excellent question. You want lyrics that are repetitive and extremely emotional. The more elated they feel and the more they drone through the same lyrics over and over again, the more you can press them to the gate.

Mr. Magician: You mean, manipulate them?

Popularity: Never call it that, fool! –sorry. No, not manipulation. It’s a movement of the Spirit. You will see people after this concert and your speech coming in droves through your gate. Theologically speaking, people can only enter the gate by the Holy Spirit and the work of Christ. Therefore, we are not manipulating people, we are allowing the Spirit to work in their lives.

Mr. Magician: That’s much simpler! We make people feel elated about themselves, an then the Spirit moves (John 16:8) them through the gate while they make their professions of faith (Matt 7:22)! What a joyful scene this will be!