Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What I learned about living a missional life from Genghis Blues

The power of trully loving people and the culture they live in can have an immense effect. Few examples about this power of loving people is more clear than in the documentary Genghis Blues (1999).

Let me explain.

In this film, Paul Pena, is a blind musician most famous for writing the song "Jet Airliner" with Steve Miller band, although he has performed and played with many famous bands through out the decades.

Pena discovers a unique sound on his short wave radio which he later identifies as Tuvan Throat Singing (native to the people of Tuva). He loves the sound and discovers that he wants to learn everything he can about throat singing and the Tuvan people. (Tuva is located in outer Mongolia).

Pena begins to learn how to throat sing on his own (throat singing involves isolating two or more notes at the same time on your vocal chords) as well as begin learning fundamentals of the Tuvan culture and their language. He begins to develop a strange love for these people. Even learning their language stems out of a developed love for their culture, because it requires him first to learn Russian because there is no English translations directly into Tuvan.

It is in the vein of this shear dedication and fascination that teaches him to love the people of Tuva, their culture, and their language before he even meets one Tuvan. Yet in time, he does travel to Tuva, in time to participate in their annual throat singing competition, as the first even non-Tuvan to compete.

The people of Tuva receive Pena with great praise and respect, even nicknaming him Earthquake for the deep quality of his throat singing. The people here are deeply attracted to this old blind man because he has gone to so much effort to deeply love them. The people desire nothing more than to spend time with Pena, to integrate them into their culture, and listen to anything that Pena has to say to them.

Pena made a lasting impression on the people of Tuva, even in a very short trip. I think people have a lot to learn about how to impact a culture through genuine love of the people, and a desire to integrate into their cultural landscape.

2 comments:

pseudolus said...

Terrific movie. Paul was a musical genius, under appreciated and under valued. May he rest in peace or kick some rock and roll ass wherever he is today.

Bill said...

I was really moved by this film (enough to blog about it too --- thanks for the comment, RC). The Tuvan singing is just amazing to hear. In addition to seeing this film, and in the vein of what pseudolus says, his 70's music is quite amazing too. If you dig Stevie Wonder, Hendrix, JJ Cale, the Stones etc. etc., than his album "New Train" is must have.

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