Three Points on Optimism – Part One: It’s About the Heart

On May 18, 2015, I had one of my most memorable experiences. You may or may not be aware that my favorite band is a quaint little Canadian trio that goes by the name of Rush. Now, I am not one of these crazy, rabid fans that see them multiple times on every tour. That would be awesome, but I recognize that I have a thing called “a life”. Tickets are not cheap, and I need both of my kidneys, and don’t want to promise my first born as an offering. But I splurged and bought two tickets, for myself and good friend Chad Cooke, to Rush’s R-40 tour. This particular tour was also rumored to be their farewell tour, so it was kind of a moral imperative that I attend this event.

I was not disappointed. In fact, at the risk of sounding pagan, it was a religious experience. I had seen them 6 times previously. The first concert I ever attended was Rush, on their Power Windows tour in January of my junior year, 1986. I, along with my best friends Dwight and Rich and Monte, had 2nd row seats. We were spoiled from the beginning. Never again did a concert live up to this one. Well, almost never…

R-40 setlist began with Rush’s most recent album, Clockwork Angels, and ended with Rush’s eponymous album. This made for an interesting flow. After the 20 minute intermission, they started with Tom Sawyer, and honestly, from here on out was my favorite part of the show. In a way, this concert was a kind of worship for me. I know, borderline idolatry you are accusing me of right now, and I wholeheartedly agree. My heart was swollen in my chest, and my eyes were teary. Lump in my throat. The only thing I can think of that would justify this feeling, which some would condemn in me as sinful, is that this is just but a taste of what God has in store for me, for us, when we enter our final home. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” If I can watch a Rock and Roll band of the world, and have feelings of ecstasy and transcendence, just think of what God has in store for us!

There is one song that holds some special significance for me. On their fifth studio album, A Farewell to Kings, the third track. Closer to the Heart. A fan favorite that brings out the cigarette lighters and cell phone screens. Here are the lyrics:

“Closer to the Heart” by Neil Peart

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart

Philosophers and ploughmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
You can be the captain
I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart


Listen to Closer to the Heart by Rush on @AppleMusic.


When I hear these lyrics, I think of a kind of unity, a kind of harmony amongst men and women of all stripes. The lowly and the lofty. The simple and the learned. All people living together, working toward good purposes. Together. “Molding a new reality.” A life lived closer to the heart. The heart is known to be the seat of the soul. It is where our mind, will, and emotions reside. It is our inner life. I could go on and on with spiritual allegories, and someday I will write about this at length. But for now, to set up the next post in this series, I just want to highlight the idea that society has for era after era attempted to create societies that reflect this kind of Utopia, many with disastrous results. But Rush hits on something that many philosophers and those in high places miss. It begins with the heart.

Keep that in mind when reading the next posts in this series. The next one will be about a “recent” (18 months) movie that closes with a scene that brought this idea to my mind. Until then….Pax.