The Road You're On

The Road You're On


What does Robert Plant have in common with John Bunyan?

posted by Gayle Trotter

What does the Greatest Metal Vocalist of All Time have in common with a devout Protestant writer of the seventeenth century?

Led Zeppelin lead singer and lyricist Robert Plant wrote the iconic 1971 rock song Stairway to Heaven.  This song is every classic rock station’s perennial number one song on the top 500 countdown.  Why does it have such durability and popularity?

Stairway to Heaven weaves a story of a woman trying to buy her way into paradise.  While none of us knows exactly what heaven is like, we know we long for a better place, where things make sense, justice is served, and all our tears will be wiped away.

As Plant’s protagonist yearns for heaven, the song concludes:

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.

John Bunyan’s allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which is to Come is considered the most significant religious work of English literature.  The allegory’s protagonist, Christian, sets out on a journey to the Celestial City after hearing of its existence.  He confronts distractions, detours, and dangers on his way to his destination.

Several of Christian’s way stations have entered our lexicon, including Vanity Fair and the Slough of Despond.  Who hasn’t made a stop in Vanity Fair or in the Slough of Despond?  They are part of the human experience, and Bunyan’s story has never been out of print.

Both Plant and Bunyan used their creative genius to describe the human condition as a journey on life’s road.

Almost 300 years apart, Plant and Bunyan each produced a work reminding us that we are on a journey, and it is never too late to change direction.  Both tell a central story that is common to human experience, an awareness that our lives are not complete, our purpose is not fulfilled, and we have not yet made it to our destination.  Reactions to this story have varied through different cultures and eras, but the nagging feeling persists that we cannot see through the veil covering the answers to our deepest longings.

The Road You’re On will travel this well worn path, seeking something better.   We are all on a journey.  We will explore faith, politics, and culture along the road we are all on.  Over time, as we discover that we have slipped into Vanity Fair or the Slough of Despond, we may decide we want to change the road we are on.

Join me on this journey, and we will learn from each other.  I’ll share where I’ve been and where I’m heading. I hope you will do the same.

There’s still time to change the road you’re on.



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