Thursday, February 03, 2011

Catchy Songs, Dreadful Lyrics

James McGrath tagged me in a meme about CCM Praise songs that we have trouble with.

The one song that immediately came to mind, which is not actually a "praise" song is the Newsboys' Wherever We Go. It's actually quite catchy and was played incessantly on Christian radio stations when it first came out.

I still listen to predominately Christian music stations, so I know most of the CCM bands out there, and this particular song always rubbed me the wrong way.

It's kind of cute, but the lyrics always make me cringe, especially this part:
Wherever we go, the dumb get wise
the crime rates drop
the markets rise
It's a curious thing
But it's just our thing
Bullies make nice, crooks repent
the ozone layer shows improvement
It's a curious thing
And it's humbling
Wherever we're led
All the Living Dead
Wanna leave their Zombie Mob
It's a touching scene when they all come clean
God help us, we just love our job
Maybe it's supposed to be tongue in cheek...but I know the evangelical circus very well, and someone, somewhere actually believes this stuff, that by merely being Christians, their very presence will improve crime rates, economic troubles, and global warming.


As far as praise music goes, most of the time I am not really bothered by lyrics that truly don't make any sense when you sit down and actually think about them, or which represent God in a way that I personally don't agree with.

I am much more forgiving with worship and praise songs because I kind of see them as "love" songs...which can sound insipid, schmaltzy, and downright co-dependent in nature when you're not in love with anyone.

I don't like to mock the truly earnest. Bad praise lyrics may make me inwardly turn up my nose, but taken as an inherently limited way to express the inexpressible, I'm willing to let a lot slide by.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I am not a fair critic as I am not a CCM fan in general. Tracy is, and Ben far more so - makes his living at it and all. (So you really should watch his Zach Hendricks and Matt Brouwer videos

The attitude that "we fix everything by our mere presence" troubles me as well. There are truths behind it, both in the theological aspect of God's love being like oxygen and the root of all good things, and the historical aspect of the development of Western Civilization, however much some try to paint Christian influence as a drag or poisoning on same.

But this variation is especially disquieting, as it suggests that we don't have to do anything but show up, and magic emanates from us. I also know people who believe something close to that. And it certainly has infected politics, where some percentage of Christians believe that merely electing believers to office will usher in justice and general prosperity. I don't think anyone believes that if you press them on it, but they behave as if that is their default belief.

Every group does it, of course, and some even more obviously than Christians. But it is more painful when it is one's own.