Saturday, June 7, 2014

Singing Into Our Navels

There are a few reasons why I don't like most Christian music. I won't go into all of them here, but lately I have heard a few songs that have reminded me exactly WHY I don't always find Christian music inspiring. Here are a few sample lyrics I heard recently:
All is well! All is well!
Praise the Lamb! All is well!
He holds the keys of Death and Hell!
Jesus reigns, and all is well!
My first reaction to this?
WHAT ARE YOU SINGING?!?! THINGS ARE NOT WELL! Are you living on Mars? Have you watched the news?  One man just shot, stabbed and used his car to kill six people in Santa Barbara.
Another woman killed her three young children in their home.
Forget the news...just look around you ---
I just lost my neighbor to Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
A co-worker of mine has a brother who's cancer just keeps coming back.
My Mom just lost her sister.
California is having a MAJOR drought and we are entering fire season.
Oh, and have you been to downtown L.A. lately?  I have. I couldn't get over the sea of homeless encampments, mountains of trash and endless graffiti.


I can live with the hymn, "It is well with my SOUL", but I cannot live with the simple statement that all is well. I know what the author means - he/she means that in the big scheme of things all is well (see the line about "holding the keys to death and hell" = Big Picture). His/her point is that all is in God's control and therefore ultimately, all IS well (even the wrongs will be righted by God), but I can't imagine saying that when we live in a world where "all creation groans..." (Romans 8:22) as greed, selfishness, dysfunction and sickness rule.
Don't get me wrong.
I am not a Debbie Downer, nor do I stay locked up in my house all day holding my knees and rocking because the world outside my window is not well. I am, in fact, perversely positive and optimistic. Most know me as funny, upbeat and friendly. It is not an act. I really am, but I am also realistic and tired of Christian platitudes about how "all is well" especially when they are said within earshot of someone who is suffering, or lonely, or in need. Nothing brings hurting people to Jesus like telling them all is well. Really! Jesus gotchurback. (Read that again with sarcasm in case you missed it.)

Here's another lyric I heard recently that made me cringe:
I think I'll let God be God
Givin' up control
Think I'll relax, step back
It's time for letting go

Well isn't that great? You're going to let God be God. How thoughtful and wise of you! Thank goodness you made that decision otherwise he couldn't be God! There you go, nice and easy, good boy, let go, c'mon-you can do it...let God have the's OK there big fella...
You are going to LET God have control?
This song is actually a hilarious contradiction.  If you you are "letting" God be God, aren't you still acting like you are in control?
How about this instead:

I think I'll stop playing God
Think I'll step back and say
The world is not in my hands
Never was anyway

Just a thought. I cringe to even say the words that I am going to let God be God.  Makes me want to ask myself, "Who do I think I am anyway?"
And that is the problem I have with most Christian music today.  Besides the trite platitudes -it is ALL ABOUT ME.  About my pain - my journey - my desires - my love - God rescue me, God help me, God come to me, God be with me, God take this away, God I feel this, God I want that, God give me this...
What about taking the focus off ourselves and singing about God?  
With Love and Life for All
A Light in the Darkness
A Comfort to the sick and struggling--
A respite of PEACE in this weary world
This world--
That is NOT WELL.

Maybe if we stop singing about our own needs and desires, we might find ourselves a little less miserable---and a little bit more, well -  WELL. It's amazing what happens when we let go of that false sense of control, that self-obsession, that self-analysis, that "selfie" mentality. Maybe we'll feel better if we take off our rose colored glasses and focus our eyes a little bit higher than our own navels. It's better to sing with your head up anyway; as any good vocal coach will tell you--it lifts the diaphragm. You never know, this might help us stop singing in that super-soprano old-lady-in-church voice.

-Hope Horner, 2014
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1 comment:

  1. Very well put. Focus on self in actually not in tha Spirit of Jesus. Another criticism that I make has to do with how derivative 'Christian' music often is, i.e. take the latest popular style and substitute religious words.