the weblog of Alan Knox

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Posted by on Mar 17, 2009 in definition, discipleship | 7 comments

I like Pink Floyd, but not in the same way that my friend (and co-worker) Gary likes Pink Floyd. He plays it often in the office. Last week, he played “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”:

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter,
come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

I had heard this song before, of course, but I had never paid attention to the lyrics. I asked Gary about the lyrics, and he told me the story of Syd Barrett.

He was one of the founding members of Pink Floyd and played with the band from 1964 to 1968. However, as the band became more popular, the pressures on Barrett caused him to have emotional and psychiatric problems. These issues were compounded by his increasing use of hallucinogenic drugs (especially LSD). People reported seeing Barrett on stage playing one chord on his guitar for an entire concert, or not playing at all.

David Gilmour was asked to play along side Barrett (since Barrett wasn’t functioning on stage), until Gilmore finally completely replaced Barrett. In 1975, He returned to watch the band record the album (no, it wasn’t a CD at this time) Wish You Were Here, which included the song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”.

As I read the lyrics, and heard Gary tell Barrett’s story, I couldn’t help but recognize the comparison between Barrett’s life with Pink Floyd and the life of the church. Just as Barrett got sidetracked, I think the church has been sidetracked. Just as Gilmour came in to work beside and eventually replace Barrett, other groups have come along side and eventually replaced the church (i.e. government, welfare, parachurch groups).

The church had a fascinated beginning. The people truly did “shine like the sun”, and their world noticed – either rejecting them, killing them, or embracing them. Today, the church seems irrelevant, and the world doesn’t care. The church has chased the wrong secrets (hierarchy, structures, philosophies, etc.) and has been “exposed in the light”.

Just as Pink Floyd was hoping for Barrett to return, I’m hoping the same for the church. I know the church is out there. God has never forsaken his church. The Lord is still leading his church. The question is, “Will the church be willing to turn away from the distractions and turn her eyes back toward Jesus? Will the church be willing to be seen once again as a raver, a seer of visions, a painter, a piper, a prisoner? Will the church shine?”

What do you think? Do you see a similarity? Is the church giving up its ability to shine? Can the church shine once again? If so, how?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-17-2009


    This is a tricky jar to open. How the church has evolved over time is complex. I have some ideas about how the church has become what it is today, which I’ll post later. The Pink Floyd song you mention is truly unique. To this day I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the first time I ever heard it on the radio. It was a lasting impression, for sure, and I was grabbed by it. I soon went out and bought the album. This is kind of like my conversion to Christianity.

  2. 3-17-2009


    There is definitely similarity here. In fact this is a really good comparison that you’ve made here.

    The church is definitely off track. It has become very inwardly focused. The Church can shine once more. I think there needs to be repentance a refocus of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church needs to once again learn how to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

  3. 3-17-2009

    To push the comparrison a bit farther you can look to Eric Clapton. He did come back but after so much pain from drug addiction and nearly killing himself he lost his four year old son. And now, well now he is unrecognizable from the guy on the Blind Faith album. So much pain and suffering has made him to be something else entirely. The Church will be the spotless Bride He is coming for. He will make Her to become what He is calling He to be. But it won’t come with a new praise chorus or a better discipleship training program. The Church will raise the Cross of Christ by going the way of the Cross. There is no other way.

  4. 3-17-2009

    I meant to say a refocus ON the Lord Jesus Christ.


  5. 3-17-2009

    I know people who feel that saying anything less than positive about “church” amounts to criticizing God. Due to an interest in “church history” for many years, however, I long ago concluded that what we call “church” is, unhappily, not the same organism that we find mentioned in the pages of Scripture or in the first years after Pentecost.

    This is not something that happened recently. Even though the organization/religion currently referred to as “church” has been around for well over a thousand years in its various forms, it is not what we find in the pages of Scripture. It is a different organization/organism. I would argue that it has not evolved, nor even devolved, but is a different organism, sadly.

    Does the original organism still exist? – Undoubtedly, here and there, in bits and pieces. Parts of it are undoubtedly present in at least some “churches”. But rather than think that the diamond has lost its shine, I think that it has been buried in a bag of rhinestones.

    I would love to see it removed from that bag of rhinestones and cleaned and polished for all the world to see it as it really is – a diamond, also known as the Bride of Christ. Some think that God will do this in the last days (which in our terms could be years or even centuries). If the world rejects it, so be it. But the world will be rejecting the diamond, not a cheap imitation.

  6. 3-17-2009

    Alan, I think how most of us “do” church in our cultural context might have something to do with this. In the first few centuries, Christians were persecuted, so met secretly, with only believers present. As Christianity took over culture (Europe, then to America) church was at the center of the community. The doors were open for anybody to come in.

    Today, with culture in decline, doors are still open. Focus changed from focusing on believers to focusing on unbelievers being in our midst (i.e. using church to preach to the lost, strangers visiting, alter calls, seeker sensitivity, etc.) Seeing how we interact with each other in church is what will cause an unbeliever to fall on his face and worship moreso that just hearing the gospel preached. Make sense?

  7. 3-17-2009

    Thanks for the comments here. I appreciate the way you all tweaked the analogy and offered your own twists and turns.