Guest blogger Rabbi Jennifer Krause is the author of The Answer: Making Sense of Life, One Question at a Time.
The British band Radiohead made music history today by releasing â€œIn Rainbows,â€? its 7th studio album, as an on-line digital download. But thatâ€™s not the newsy bit. The UK rockers decided they would trust potential fans and longtime supporters alike to be the ones to place value on the music this go-round. In that spirit, the list price for â€œIn Rainbowsâ€? on Radioheadâ€™s official website is: â€œItâ€™s Up To You.â€?
â€œIn Rainbowsâ€? debuted this morning on XFM satellite radio. It aired uninterrupted, track-by-track, for more than forty minutes. Since then, the station has been asking listeners to post reviews, and, as you might expect, comments range from â€œblown awayâ€? to â€œboringâ€? (and some other far more colorful language you can visit the site itself to read). With something as subjective as art, the array of reactions is no big surprise.
The same could be said for the way people feel at any given moment about religion: inspired, less than wowed, riveted at times, and tempted to reject it at others. But given that we live in an age some might call the Olympics of choosing, when being born into a faith doesnâ€™t necessarily mean that people will or must actively choose that same faith for their life, Radioheadâ€™s â€œItâ€™s Up To Youâ€? banner could just as easily be the tagline for Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, or Buddhism for any American.
One thing Radiohead does not do, though, is make single tracks from any of their own releases available for individual download on iTunes, for instance. So while people can place whatever value they want on â€œIn Rainbowsâ€? today, they are buying into a whole relationship, an entire story, nonetheless.
And therein lays the balance. There is nothing wrong with making choices, deciding what matters, assigning value based on what you deem truly meaningful and worthy of your time, your resources, and your attention. But even when you stumble upon tracks you donâ€™t like and things you must criticize, even if you decide you need to take a break from listening for a while, there is an undeniable beauty in being a part, and in taking active ownership, of a bigger story that forever belongs to you.