The Parable of a Sound Engineer

For the past three days I have been recording an audio version of Every Job a Parable at a Calgary studio called The Beach. I love doing new things and this was a blast (although pretty hard on the vocal cords!).

Several times, as I was speaking, I found myself reliving conversations with people and re-experiencing vocational epiphany moments. When I read the bible verses my voice slowed slightly and took on a more reverential tone. When the pace of a story picked up, so did I. When something funny was being relayed, words were laughingly enunciated.

Unlike my times of preaching, I found myself noticing all of these things. It was probably the sound studio atmosphere; totally soundproof with only your voice feeding back to you via your headset. (I told the sound engineer that I wanted to get one of these headsets for the rest of my life… because I sounded more authoritative to myself when I wore them! 😉 ).

During breaks I got to know Ryan; the sound engineer. This guy was a pro. Sitting in a sound proof room next to my sound proof room, facing a wall of speakers, he followed along word for word, catching the smallest of mistakes on my part…  “You said politics instead of policies…  You added an ‘s’ to ‘manage’…  you pronounced that word a little too muddily… etc, etc…” I couldn’t believe how he seemed to catch everything. At times I would go on for pages without error, and then he’d suddenly cut in and say, “We need to do that last sentence again, you missed the word ‘on’….”

As we spoke about the nature of his work I found myself exegeting it as though it were a parable (how could I not?). What made Ryan good at his job was the intense focus with which he was able to listen. He didn’t listen to empathize or be moved by the story. He listened to hear precisely what was being spoken, and that was all. “When I record a band I can isolate and listen to just the kick drum or any other voice or instrument… even as the whole band is playing.”

Hearing him say those words I said, “You could come to our church and teach us how to listen!”  If only we listened to God’s words with a sound engineer’s level of precision. Imagine being that tuned in and focussed on every syllable, every tonal variation, every change of pace.

What was interesting in the book recording process was that Ryan never looked at me. He faced in a perpendicular direction, so as not be distracted by any visuals (I’m guessing)… because ‘all that mattered to him’ was the voice.

Imagine listening with that kind of intensity. Perhaps this is why we close our eyes when we pray.

In the bible God is a God who speaks. Our faith is born out of a very oral tradition. He who made our ears hears. And surely this sound engineer is made in the image of a God who hears in perfection… and records every word.