We have had a rough start to 2020. A lot of news, and we are less than two weeks into the year! A couple of items stick out to me, that I am thinking about in particular.
First, the extensive wildfires in Australia are simply staggering. Several dozen human deaths, thousands of homes destroyed, and an unbelievable 10 million hectares of land have been burned.
But what stands out to me the most is the impact on animal life. Possibly one billion animals have died (or suffered serious injury) from the fires, including possibly 30,000 koala bears. The story about koala bears is difficult enough, considering the fact that koalas were already threatened with extinction. Heart-wrenching YouTube videos abound recording koala bear rescues.
How should Christians respond in leading efforts to care for God’s good creation?? (Here are some ways to help)
Secondly, the other story that jumped out this week is the death of Neil Peart, the legendary drummer of RUSH, the Canadian rock music trio, that has been playing music since the 1970s. So much of popular rock music has been riddled with lyrics that are far from being spiritually edifying. But once Neil Peart joined RUSH as their drummer and chief lyricist, Peart went against the grain. Neil Peart was known to be a sensitive thinker, a lyric writer who was not known for shallowness.
Neil Peart was also an atheist, having been raised in church, but leaving it at a young age, due to a growing skepticism. Peart became particularly enamored with the philosophy of Ayn Rand.
In 1997, Neil Peart took a break from the band, when his college aged daughter died in a car accident, shortly followed by the death of his wife, due to cancer. As a kind of therapy, Neil Peart road his motorbike solo across the United States, to work through his spiritual questions and doubts. Sadly, Neil Peart was not impressed with his experience with Christian churches, and his lyrics often reflected his disillusionment.
Neil Peart never came across as a “faith basher” to me, but his skeptical outlook on the world, and his negative experience with Christianity, as evidenced by some recorded interviews, like this one, is representative of some of the more thoughtful skeptics in my generation, as well as in up-and-coming generations. One of the reasons why I am so passionate about the study of Christian apologetics is because I believe that Christians can supply good answers to many of the tough questions posed by skeptics, like Neil Peart. Sadly, relatively few Christians seem to be that concerned about the Neil Pearts in our world, who are honestly looking for answers to life’s difficult questions.
Neil Peart died at the age of 67, after battling brain cancer himself, for the past three years. I wonder if in some quiet way, the Lord Jesus and Savior of the World might have revealed Himself to Neil Peart, in those difficult, dark days.
May we as Christians learn to have a stronger desire to love the Neil Pearts, among our neighbors, families, and friends, for the sake of the Gospel.
Here is Neil Peart talking about the early years of the band:
I have seen RUSH perform live four times. Great every time. Here is the master at work, live in Frankfurt, Germany.
With the whole band, performing “Secret Touch,” one of my favorites, from 2002’s “Vapor Trails” album: