Prophetic Notes: Vision 3 - Half the World


I have long been a fan of the Canadian rock band, Rush. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart are all virtuosic musicians. My appreciation of this band comes from my father, who fell in love with Rush in the years of his youth. I grew up singing along to "Closer to the Heart" and "the Trees." For a long time, no road trip was complete without my father and I air-drumming to Peart's insane drum riffs in "Tom Sawyer" and "YYZ." In the past year or two, my father and I have seen Rush twice and I continue to be amazed at the sheer magnificence of their musical ability.

This next "vision" in my series, Prophetic Notes, is inspired by a Rush song that was never considered "classic." It is called "Half the World" and was included in their 1996 album, "Test of Echo."

test for echo

The lyrics are below and you can listen to the song here.

Half the World by Rush (1996, Test for Echo)

Half the world hates What half the world does every day Half the world waits While half gets on with it anyway

Half the world lives Half the world makes Half the world gives While the other half takes

Half the world is Half the world was Half the world thinks While the other half does

Half the world talks With half a mind on what they say Half the world walks With half a mind to run away

Half the world lies Half the world learns Half the world flies As half the world turns

Half the world cries Half the world laughs Half the world tries To be the other half

Half of us divided Like a torn-up photograph Half of us are trying To reach the other half

Half the world cares While half the world is wasting the day Half the world shares While half the world is stealing away

For those who are familiar with the discography of Rush, this song stands in contrast to the technically intricate and rhythmically diverse tunes of their work in the 60's, 70's, and 80's. For me, the simplicity of the melody allows me to focus more on the lyrics which are composed by drummer Neil Peart (who is considered by many to be one of the most talented drummers in the history of rock).

This song is first and foremost driven not only by the rhythm and the melody but by the verbs as well. As we are taught in seminary to engage in scripture, we are told by many a professor to look at the verbs in the text. Many times, as I am preparing a sermon, I will simply take a separate sheet of paper and write down each of the verbs in the passage to get a feel of the action of the text.

The brilliant lyrics of this song provide verbs which give voice to the separation in this world. It is clear that the members who make up the band Rush see the world as a world of divisions (for more on this theme, see their song "Subdivisions" to get an idea of this familiar Rush motif). Half of the world gives, half of the world takes. Half cries, half laughs, half tries to be the other half. It almost sounds as if this text belongs in the book of Amos rather than in a 1996 rock song!

What are the divisions in your life? What half of the world are you in? The one that laughs or the one that cries? The one that gives or the one that takes? Food for thought...


Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.