A Momentary Lapse of Reason

I wouldn’t call Pink Floyd a religiously inclined band, but I would call them existentially aware to a fault. With the ambiguity that suffuses almost every Pink Floyd song ever (with and without Roger Waters), with the edge-of-the-abyss or edge-of-enlightenment vantage point that calls into question the idea that material success and/or conformity to societal norms will bring happiness and peace, the album’s title would make more sense as a question than as a statement. Is asking deep, existential questions a momentary lapse of reason, or is it breaking away from a socially agreed upon shallow insanity?

Taken one way, Pink Floyd’s music brings only despair. They ask life’s deep questions, but there are no life affirming answers. Is there nothing more than existential emptiness? If that’s what true reality is, seeking it is indeed a momentary lapse of reason.

That doesn’t mean the questions aren’t good and true, but it does mean that the answers cannot be insubstantial or quickly offered and accepted. Any sunshine-and-roses platitude that refuses to acknowledge the darkness within and the darkness without is worthless. The genius of Pink Floyd is offering this truth set to music.

But what happens when the deep questions are asked, and when darkness and despair cry out my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1)

God answers not by erasing the pain, but by taking all of it into a holy and loving embrace. Some call it transfiguration, some transformation, some epiphany. The bold may even call it resurrection. Whatever the word used, it’s more than enough.

[Pink Floyd, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Bob Ezrin & David Gilmour, producers; recorded November 1986-March 1987, London, EMI/Columbia records, 1987. This may or may not be a Pink Floyd album, depending on which side of the argument you fall. It was released after Roger Waters left the band, with legal issues before and after its release.]

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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