Keith Richards: Higher than Higher Things?

Having finished Keith Richards’ biography Life, I can say with some authority that Keith is higher than Higher Things.

To begin with, though he kicked the hard drug, heroin, long ago, he still does drugs.  No more cocaine after his 2006 surgery on his brain for a clot, cocaine thins the blood, but he’s still smoking pot.  Apparently pot is to junkies what beer is to alcoholics.  It’s only….  So the aging, using Keith Richards is higher than the youthful, non-using Higher Things.

In another sense, Keith is higher.  He has a higher understanding of how new technology is to be regarded.  He says that the music of the 80s is so poor because technology was developed where you could record each instrument separately.  Everyone thought because you could do that, you should.  Keith says now they’re all remastering that stuff because music is meant be to be heard all at once.  Not recorded separately and mixed together.

Contrast Higher Things.  While I thought this conference was much better than the last one, I was dismayed at the unqualified embracing of technology.  The plenary sessions were preceded by free-for-all texting.  Teens were encouraged to express themselves, or all 152 characters of themselves, on the big screen.  The Higher Things staff reviewed each post, so my compliant is not against the messages but the medium.  Higher Things also emphasized the use of the smart phone medium to give evaluations on their presentations. This was to maximize the number of respondents, but it also, I think, served to minimize the type of respondent.  That was certainly not Higher Things intent, but I don’t think they considered that in their unconsidered promoting of technology.

And so Keith Richards is higher than Higher Things.  He takes a step back and says, “Hey, maybe all this technology isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Maybe it takes away from my message.”  I’m not concerned that Higher Things embracing of technology takes away from their message; I think it takes away from a certain type of kid.  Here’s how.  Richards writes of teenage girls screaming and fainting at his concerts.  I don’t think every teenie-bobber going to her first Stones’ concert shrieked uncontrollably and fell over, but I’ll bet CD’s to vinyl that there were many who came away from their first concert feeling weird because they didn’t.

I think there are youth, kids, teens who are troubled by the uncritical, unqualified embracing of technology everywhere they go.  I think these would appreciate presentations about such issues and a youth organization that went out of its way not to promote the latest technology. The clergy historically have been social conservatives.  This is where our collars and vestments come from.  They are the clothes worn by all hundreds, even thousands of years ago but discarded by the masses en masse as newer, “better,” more technologically advanced clothes were developed.

So this post is partly an old warning that he who marries the spirit of the age is destined to be a widow, but it’s also a not so old complaint of mine: the organization that becomes a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is destined to go where she goes.  Higher Things becoming an RSO is to me what Mick Jagger accepting a knighthood was to Keith Richards.  Richards was offended.  He regarded Jagger as a sell-out.  The very country that had arrested him and hounded him for years now wanted to knight him?  Richards thought it was the height of hypocrisy for Jagger to accept it.

But accept it he did.  As for Richards, he said he would accept no title short of king.  He would be King Richards the Fourth and make sure the Fourth was always I V.  That’s a high sense of humor and high principles, especially for a junkie.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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