The Back Page – Quiet

The Back Page


Of all forms of pollution, that of noise is little discussed. Rattles, roars, and inane talk are ubiquitous
—roads, waiting rooms, factories, homes. God forbid that we should ever encounter quiet! Then we might
have to be alone with ourselves and think.
Therefore institutions install monitors and Muzak; individuals addict themselves to electronics and
earbuds. Deep down, many people don’t like themselves, but would rather not admit that. So they
distract themselves with constant muttering to avoid facing important, ultimate issues. An anodyne, a
narcotic, an escape.
Don’t get me wrong. Good music is one of life’s joys. But music is best when attended to, so that its
nuances can be appreciated, rather than demoted to dulling distraction or distant drone.
“Clamour shall clean put out the voice of wisdom,
The printing-presses with their clapping wings,
Fouling your nourishment. Harpy wings,
Filling your minds all day with foolish things,
Will Tame the eagle Thought: till she sings
Parrot-like in her cage to please dark kings.”
Or consider Screwtape: “Music and silence—how I detest them both! Ever since our Father entered
Hell, no square inch of infernal space has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all
has been occupied by Noise—the grand dynamism which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing
scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise. The melodies and silences of
Heaven will be shouted down in the end.”
By contrast, which way does scripture incline? He leads me beside quiet waters. I have calmed and
quieted myself. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. In
quietness and trust is your strength. The effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of Yahweh. Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and
get some rest. Pray that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness.
It is healthy to be still and know that God is God, to regularly climb the mountain, as did Jesus, and
be alone with our Father.

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