Respecting – and praying for – non-believers

I grew up in southern Ontario (Canada), and lived in a couple small towns for several years before moving to Willowdale on the north side of Toronto.

Willowdale, or North York as it’s now called, is home to the Canadian rock trio Rush. Part of my misspent youth was spent as a fan of the band, buying what were then called “albums” and playing them on ancient devices known as “record players.”

I began following Rush almost completely by accident. A couple years ahead in school, I was only ten years old in seventh grade. In my school, we kids defined ourselves based on our musical tastes (regardless of their level of deplorability).

At the time, my arch-nemesis, a bully by the name of Rick, was a fan of Kiss. I had read an interview where Gene Simmons, the Kiss front man, had declared his desire to be God. Being pretty sure the position was already taken, I ruled out Kiss as a viable option for defining my still-distant adolescence. In my class, the only other respectable band was Rush. So I declared myself a Rush fan one day, hardly knowing who they were.

My allegiance being duly sworn, I was duty-bound to begin listening to the music. Finding it satisfactory for the purposes of appalling my parents and gaining a dollop of much-needed respect at school, I embraced Rush fanhood.

As time went on, not only did the music grow on me, I began to respect the musical and song writing abilities of Rush’s lyricist and drummer Neil Peart. Known for his extraordinary on-stage musical talents, Neil spent most of his off-stage time buried in books.

Take a look at the video below – which, I assure you, is the tip of the iceberg in terms of this man’s extraordinary talents. Is there anyone who can watch and truly believe Neil Peart doesn’t possess a gift?

Unfortunately, Neil and I would part company on the source of the gift. I would attribute it to God, but Neil would probably scoff at the thought. Yet one question has gently nagged me for the many years since leaving my Rush fanhood behind: imagine what good could result from Neil Peart putting his talents in the service of the Lord?

We might never find out, of course, but I still pray for Neil every time I think about him, and admire his God-given talents. Neil Peart: fellow Canadian, incredible musician, gifted lyricist, and perhaps even future saint. It could happen, there are precedents. Saint Paul, pray for us!