Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why I Love Popular Music

I love Pop Music.  I have in fact put another dime in the jukebox.  I tend towards Rock in tastes, but some metal, some country (come on, who doesn't like David Allen Coe), some Metal, even some R&B and Old School Rap... even 90s Rap... love it.

Because so much of it is honest about pain and brokeness.

Oh, sure, sure - there are fads and streaks in popular music that glorify the wild craziness of the world - especially in "pop".  But some good Punk - all about social decay.  Grunge - Grunge is nothing but a giant shout that the LA Strip "Metal" of the 80s is a big giant lie.  And well... I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison.  How about that for some realistic pain and bitterness.

Which is why I'm always amused when I hear people rail again rock music and such - it's painting with such a broad brush -- it's like saying all food is lousy, or that every film glorifies violence.  Too broad a brush and mental laziness....

... and something else.  See, I used to chalk up these broad complaints to oversimplification, or just disliking an aspect of music.  But no, I'm beginning to think more and more than some of it isn't just a reaction against the glorification of lousy things, but I think the brokenness offends too.

I remember in Sem reading a book on ethics (of all things) that mentioned the song "Lost in the Supermarket" by the Clash, and it lambasted the song as an example of glorification of culture.  Um - no, it complains about how vapid and unsatisfying consumer culture is.  And it's always struck me as odd - in fact, I think I've written about it before.

But here is the nuance today.

Too many Christians can't stand the idea of things being broken and messy and wrong.

But that's part and parcel of the Christian faith.

See, as Christians, we confess.  We speak with God what His Word says about us -- that we are poor, miserable sinners, that we are living in a fallen, broken world, that we are hounded by temptation and disappointment and sorrow and that the world will always fail us in the end -- but Christ does not, and in Him we have forgiveness and life and salvation.

Good Rock Music proclaims the Law.

Too many Christians don't think the Law applies to them anymore -- or that it needs to be some sort of happy, advisory, watered down law that gives self improvement, that helps you have your best life now.

Nope.  The Law is this.  The wages of sin is death.  You are in a body of death.  You are in a sinful world.  And things will suck.  There will be pain and suffering in your life, and much of it you will cause.

Which is why every Sunday we cry out "Lord, Have Mercy!"  And every Sunday Christ gives us His mercy in Church.

Oh, and here's Johnny Cash (our brother in Christ) doing a cover of a song by Trent Reznor (who knows the futility of wayward living as well as the prodigal son)... behold the sinner driven to Christ when seeing his own brokenness.  The big sinner knows he needs a bigger Savior.

Of course, there's something else Johnny knew...


Steve Martin said...

Amen. It is painful to think abut all the damage I have caused myself and others , not to mention how I have offended the Lord. But the fact that I am a BIG sinner has led me to hear the Word of a HUGE SAVIOR.

Thanks be to God.

And thank you, Rev.

Myrtle said...

Okay ... uhm ... thank you for posting this. As an ex-evangelical from the Bible belt I still harbor deep guilt over listening to "non-Christian" music.

I have this play list that is all secular, but filled with words that are so comforting to me, so hopeful. Some are words I could imagine Jesus saying to me since they fit what I have been learning and some are words about profound brokenness and that being real and present for others. Some are words of hope that are not everything's-going-to-be-okay or God-will-make-everything-better platitudes but a reminder that good can come from bad and that light does shine in the darkness. One is a song about 9-11 that is so beautiful and so astounding that the writer in me just marvels over its craftsmanship. And, for the record, Johnny Cash's "Hurt" is on my list.

Anyway, when I am deep in the throes of innards writhing, I will play the list and let the music and words wash over me, to remind me, oddly enough. of the promises I have learned in the pure doctrine, of the truth of Christ crucified for me. But I do feel guilty listening that THAT kind of music.

Nice to know it's okay to do so.......

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Art is good -- even if isn't just a picture of Jesus.