Fair Warning: The thoughts expressed in this blog initially were intended for a wider audience yet over time I’ve grown to have a much stronger motivation to write more often and hopefully better if the audience is very simply my kids. I think this will help sharpen my focus and truly share something that is on my heart all of the time. Plus, I can leave a series of notes to them on faith & life..at least from their Dad’s perspective.
You will hear many messages from our extraordinary culture. There are many good ones and many bad ones – you will learn over time that our culture tugs at you in many different directions but one consistent direction is away from God. It’s all part of a very secular culture that we should not expect to live up to Christian values. It’s ok. We knew it would be with this way and will only continue to devolve in that direction. One of the places you will hear these messages is in music: some is very good and some is very bad. Many artists are very talented and they either write their own songs or sing songs from other professionals. In either case there is one inescapable fact – a worldview is being promoted. You see, everyone has a worldview; there’s no getting around it. Our worldview is shaped by our upbringing, environment, education and religious or irreligious values. Because we believe God is the beginning and the end and the center of all things; if we were to boil it down to its essence we might say everyone has a Theology. So a person writing lyrics for a song will express some kind of ‘theology’ in their work – their worldview is on display if we read their lyrics and listen for it closely.
Here’s one example that I’ve been hearing on the radio lately.
The first stanza is by Matt Maher, a Christian artist (and Catholic) who sings a song Turn Around (written by Rhys Morgan, Stuart Creighton, Tommy Lee James). He gave an interview where he spoke about the need for repentance and how it is not a one-time thing but a continual thing we do throughout our entire lives. In the lyrics he also reminds us that following Christ is all about repentance: literally to change the way you think, to change direction.
If you’re scared that you don’t matter
If you’re lost and need to be found
If you’re looking for a Savior
All you gotta do is turn around
No one listens to you anymore
And your heart has broken down, you don’t need to move
Love has come to you, all you gotta do is turn around
All you gotta do is turn around, turn around
You don’t have to
Take the broken road
You can turn around
And come back home
A helpful contrast to this idea and a very nuanced one is a song sung by several artists, including a very popular Country Music (ahem, the “new” pop-style Country Music) band called Rascal Flatts. The song was co-written by Marcus Hummon, Bobby Boyd and Jeff Hanna in 1994. In their lyrics they describe repentance and redemption a little differently.
I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true
Now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
You see, if we take these lyrics to heart we might be deceived into believing that God “blesses” the broken road of sin and disobedience ultimately deciding to bless us. In fact, God tells us He redeems all things but he still disapproves of that broken road and tells us to repent and change directions. We should always remember that broken roads don’t lead to God – they lead us away from Him. That’s why they’re broken and that’s why He tells us to take the narrow path that leads to Him and not the broad road, that leads to destruction.
Your Mom and I have led our family into a more confessional and sacramental expression of Christianity in the Catholic Church. If you will regularly confess to the Priest (which means, “to agree with God about sin”) and do your penance you will be reminded continually of your need to confess, repent, and be sanctified by God’s Amazing Grace in Christ. God doesn’t bless any broken roads and they don’t lead straight to Him. You don’t have to take the broken road, you can turn around and come back home.
P.S. Rascal Flatts’ theology is wrong but their songs are generally good and I like them even though it’s a new pop-style Country Music that sometimes hurts your father’s Oklahoma ears.