Well, I have finished up what I had proposed to do several months ago. I have thought through and posted commentary on Derek Webb’s album Mockingbird. It was a good exercise for me. As I already make an attempt to listen to lyrics in whatever song I am listening to, this discipline caused me to listen and interact with what was being said. It is easy to hear words and pasively listen. So much of our culture has been shaped by music, it is uncanny. If you look around at the trends in our society, I think you would probably see the music culture blazing the way with either songs or interviews with those artists.
Pertaining to our evangelical context, so much of the music is fluffy and light-hearted. It is like cotton-candy. It is bright and nutrition-less. Sugar no fiber. What I have appreicated about Webb’s music is that he does not shy away frmo difficult topics. He has jumped into the deep end of politics intersecting with theology. Unlike so much of our theology-less music you buy at your local Christian bookstore, next to the Precious Moments Bibles and Veggie Re-Interpretations, Webb has pressed on us and asked us to think about why wevote for who we vote for. It is one thing to be pro-life. It is another thing to know why you vote pro-life. So many have jumped on the bandwaghon because ti is the right thing to do. And it is! But they could not give two good swats at why it is wrong to abort a child. Unfortunately all of our John 3:16 posters will only strike out in the political circle.
On the whole, I really enjoyed Webb’s album. I did not feel like he was ever being a wanna-be prophet. Rather, he challenges us to THINK. Why is there so much confusion as to whether Creed or Lifehouse are ‘Christian’ bands. Could it be that our criteria for music is so low? That is, we hear someone mention “God” and we assume that they are a Christan band. Are we grasping at the wind so that we can be cool in the music arena. And when men like Webb push against the status quo we label him a blemish rather than a friend. At least his music is giving a message. Far from grunting and throwing in some ambiguous statements about eternity, Webb gets in your face and asks you to give a reason for the hope you have within you.
While I disagree with Webb’s proselytizing of pacifism, it is not without warrant. There have been plenty of theologians who have espoused such a view. The main argument I have against Webb’s pacifism is the fact that when Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies, he was speaking to his disciples, and not the world’s discioples. When we are commanded to turn the other cheek in forgiveness, as a model of Christ who did not revile when he was reviled. One of the beauties of the Christian view of politics is that the government is a gift from God for the meting out of justice in a fallen world. If there were no retributive justice for those who raped, murdered, lied, etc., then the world would implode. The rod of the government is wielded for the protection of the righteous and punishment of the wicked – a foretaste of that glorious day when the saints will be vindicated.
When Webb says he will speak out against a rod not wielded well, he is right. However, governments that are capable will be held accountable for the sin they left unpunished. That’s right. Large, strong governments that look the other way when dictators’ sons rape and burn women will be held accountable for what they did not do. There will be a reckoning. I do believe on many levels that what has happened in the Middle East has been due to poor planning. I am sure that there was plenty of planning, but I don’t think there was planning in accordance to the territory that was invaded. That is, there was a misnuderstanding of Sunnis and Shias. That’s enough for now, I am trying to finish up my interaction with Mockingbird, not give a strategy for bringing about justice per se.
I continue to be amazed at Webb’s vulnerability on the mic. I am sure that even in his vulnerability about pride, he has to guard against the pride in being vulnerable. I know my own heart and am sure it is there for him as well as it would be for me. It is a struggle for those who are in the business of teaching God’s Word (and that is a role I think musicians are in) that sounding provocative and edgy can be a way of ponying up to our own pride and greed.
We are reminded by Webb that Christian love is naything but boring…it can be downright tantalizing.
We are challenged to live a consistent ethic of human life – a reference to a 30 second musical interlude I did not comment on until now. That is, we must be indicted for listening to sermons that give us ten ways to be a more successful Christian when there are ten chapters of Scripture we are ignoring. We will be held accountable for sitting in our newly renovated sanctuary while the inner sanctum of our lives is full of dead men’s bones. While we start the latest building campaign and there are poor men around the corner we are not reaching out to, we will be held to give a reason such oversight happened. May God help us to live such an ethic where the words we listen to and speak are overflows from our lives as a church and Christian.
The Full Series:
Mockingbird: The Album & A Dialogue
“Mockingbird”: A Dialogue
“A New Law”: A Dialogue
“A King & A Kingdom”: A Dialogue
“I Hate Everything But You”: A Dialgoue
“Rich Young Ruler”: A Dialogue
“My Enemies Are Men Like Me”: A Dialogue
“Zeros & Ones”: A Dialogue
“In God We Trust”: A Dialogue
“Please Before I Go”: A Dialogue
“Love Is Not Against the Law”: A Dialogue