“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.”

Though this “matrix” predates my hearing it by nearly fifty years, I first heard it during a press conference Donald Rumsfeld gave in February 2002 during the run up to the Iraqi invasion. He received a lot of… commentary regarding this statement. I have come to learn it was coined by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in their development of the “Johari Window.” Rumsfeld heard it when he worked with William Graham from NASA. It was a primary matrix NASA used in that agencies’ work. It has come to frame much of my own thinking regarding just about everything.

It is helpful for everything from the mundane to the eternal. As I was working on my recent complete recording of Muzio Clementi’s Op 36 Sonatinas, I used the earliest handwritten edition I could find. In my teaching days, I used this edition to introduce my students to the problem of editorial… help. In every sonatina there are discrepancies between this very early Artaria edition and all other modern editions. We would be faced with the question of which was “right.” Talk about sowing doubt in a young person’s mind! Which is exactly what I wanted! (My wife will confirm my propensity to prefer the question to the answer any day.)

I hoped that my students would come away with a degree of skepticism whenever they met an overly confident opinion. There is a strong inverse relationship between confidence in your own ideas, and the knowledge about and the understanding of opposing opinions. Another mundane example from the music world… The Palmer edition of Bach’s Two-Part Inventions and Sinfonias has a wonderful chart in the introduction comparing about 20 different tempi taken by various editors, commentators, and performers. The average distance between the fastest and slowest is 100%… the average! And this is Bach which nearly every late intermediate and better student plays, and this is the best we can do? Clearly some of the best minds cannot even come close to agreeing.

Over the past ten years I have recorded at least a dozen complete hymnals and portions of many more. These hymnals have come from traditions as disparate as Baptist and Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Seventh Day Adventist, and everything in between. In the same way you can tell a lot about a person by what is on their bookshelves, you can learn a lot about a faith tradition by the songs they sing. As a biographer who spends a great deal of time getting to know and understand their subject; coming away with an appreciation of their strengths and their weaknesses, I came to appreciate the subtle differences between these many denominations.

I was recently asked by one of my viewers which church I attended. This is a very complicated question. I grew up in a United Presbyterian (UP) church which moved to the PCA during my high school years. In college I attended an independent church (quite Reformed) near campus. I then worked at a small Bible Church, a Presbyterian Church (I think it was PCA), then attended a Bible Church, then another Presbyterian church (UP), spent sixteen years working at an ELCA church, then an independent church (a church plant of my college church so very Reformed), worked at a United Methodist church, and now we attend a very small country Baptist church. I think that is everybody. Some people who move around like this do so because they do not understand the differences between these traditions. I can assure you; I knew exactly what I was getting myself into.

I never had any problems worshiping with these people. I was at times frustrated by the very thin gruel coming from the pulpits. But that didn’t change the fact that we were worshiping our Lord and Savior, even if our full understandings were different. I came to realize that people can look at the same Scripture and come to very different understandings.

So, let’s get back to Mr. Rumsfeld’s quote. Last week, I wrote about the amazing things recently discovered in astrophysics. Unknown unknowns became known, which brought up so many more now known unknowns. The mystery of the universe is our Father’s world! Scientists actually have to extend grace to each other as new things are learned. It is expected that you will adjust your theories to new information. How much more so it should be in our faith journey. The fact that humanity has looked at Scriptures for thousands of years and still cannot agree on the truth they contain, should give us pause, not confidence. Clearly, we can only see dimly the full truth. Speaking harshly about our brother or sister’s understanding which differs from our own, I am sure breaks our Father’s heart.

These are all affiliate marketing links. I receive a small commission from Amazon if you make a purchase. This costs you nothing and goes a long way to supporting this channel and website. 

Here are some of my favorite Hymnals:

Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook: http://amzn.to/2zSRdpL

Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DEOl1H 

Broadman 1940 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2C1WuwK

Methodist 1939 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2CfJ1Wq

Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DDvbJC

Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin:  http://amzn.to/2DQ6gUy

Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945 http://amzn.to/2Dx97nA

Book of Psalms for Singing https://amzn.to/2ygM00b (1912 Psalter is unavailable)

Hymns Ancient and Modern https://amzn.to/3dfaHIY

Here are my new projects:

Trinity Hymnal 1960 https://amzn.to/3ZU7esg

Lutheran 1909 Hymnal https://openlibrary.org/books/OL25240909M/Evangelical_Lutheran_hymn-book

J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales  http://amzn.to/2DSy5f9


Dictionary of Hymnology:  http://amzn.to/2BxPabk

American Hymns Old and New https://amzn.to/3fqkkVU