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Friday, December 29, 2006

Is God Messing with my Ipod?

I got my first Ipod (Nano, 2nd generation) for Christmas -- well, for some unidentified winter holiday (my folks didn't specify) -- and I'm a little weirded out right now.

(Sorry, somewhat lengthy) background: I'm a Jewish agnostic. I have a certain emotional tug toward belief in some sort of Involved and Caring Presence. I see no compelling intellectual justification for believing in the tenets of any religion I know of (despite the smooth and occasionally tricky arguments of C.S. Lewis).

One reason I'm not an atheist is my awareness of the dictum that you can't be angry at God without in some way believing in him. My parents are, by some definitions, Holocaust survivors (they fled just barely in time, and most of their extended families didn't make it). From the holocaust to tsunamis to horrendous diseases, I have a hard time believing in a God who is both good and anywhere remotely close to omnipotent. My own life, while not trouble-free, has been a very good one so far, and I sometimes feel, in relation to any God there might be, the way the favorite niece or granddaughter of Josef Stalin might feel. Grandpa Joe has always been loving and generous with me -- in between starving millions of peasants to death and so forth. How should I feel about Grandpa? How is it right to feel?

I must acknowledge the argument (was it Lewis who made it, or Jonathan Kellerman in Conversations with Rabbi Small?) that free will allows people to choose to do evil, and evil hurts the innocent -- that's what makes it evil. One can certainly find enough free-will choices behind the Holocaust, and various individual choices made the havoc wreaked by the 2005 tsunami worse, etc., etc. . . . I'm still not entirely won over.

So, finally, to the Ipod, which I'm playing mainly in my car (with a neat gizmo that uses the cassette tape player). I'm still learning how to use it. I accidentally turned off the volume during Tom Paxton's "Home to Me", and missed a few bars. I felt briefly wistful about it. Then I left the car and turned off the Ipod while Simon and Garfunkel's "Benedictus" was playing, and somehow messed things up so that when I got back to the car, the shuffle started over with something else. I was thinking about going home and playing "Benedictus" on the computer when the current song ended and up popped -- "Benedictus". Oy. Coincidence, or a tap on the shoulder?

A song or two later, along came -- "Home to Me". Alright, already! And the next song -- from Handel's Messiah, "I Know that My Redeemer Liveth." ALRIGHT, I GET IT!! Although, of course, I still don't know whether I do.

I have to admit that along with fear of being irrational, there is the fear of the implications of belief. . . .

The next song was Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" -- which could be interpreted theologically, I suppose, but I don't hafta.


Heidicrafts said...

Radiomacy. Or I suppose it could be iPodomacy now.

How did those songs get on your iPod in the first place? Selected by you or someone else? I don't have an iPod; I don't know.

At least when I experience radiomacy, it is random among the play lists of the stations whose radio buttons I have programmed. Which would make it not truly random, but the pool is large enough. How large is your song pool?

Mysterious. ;)

Karen A Wyle said...

I wondered if anyone would catch that -- about how the songs got there. I picked 'em. I like them for some undiagnosed mixture of reasons.

There are 184 songs in the playlist I was using.