Infinite loops and petty poetics

guitar.jpgThere has been some lively discussion over on Geoff’s (and Paul’s) blogs about the Third Day song, “You Are So Good to Me”. Before I get going, might I add that after a short background check this is actually a Third Day cover of a Waterdeep song. There! So now you know who to blame if you’re going to proceed down that avenue.

You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
And I will sing again

You are so good to me
You heal my broken heart
You are my Father in Heaven

You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song

You ride upon the clouds
You lead me to the truth
You are the Spirit inside me

You are my strong melody, yeah
You are my dancing rhythm
You are my perfect rhyme
And I will sing of You forever

You poured out all Your blood
You died upon the cross
You are my Jesus who loves me

You are my Father in Heaven
You are the Spirit inside me
You are my Jesus who loves me

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the song. Predominantly and perhaps foolishly they are mostly personal reasons, some of them quite silly:

  • As a general rule, I have no idea of how music works – I just like it (mostly), hence the lyrics about ‘song’ don’t have any deep undercurrent of meaning for me. I like extrapolating on definitions or tangents of words – this happens in my head and there’s not much explaining it, it’s just weird. The songs that really click are those that convey something very real to me, something that I can relate with, relate something to or have experienced in some way shape or form.
  • I don’t like the use of the word ‘sweet’ in almost any context.
  • I don’t like repetitive things – it begins to remind me of the hair-dryer sound I often wake up to in the morning (alas having a room opposite the bathroom!)
  • I hate the inclusion of ‘I will sing again’ or any phrase remotely close, it’s sloppy song writing – it makes little sense. Why not demonstrate it instead of weaving the instruction into the song? I look at phrases like this and am amused because I start thinking of being stuck in a never ending loop reminiscent to, ‘This is the Song that Does Not End’ – must I explain my utter loathing!
  • I don’t dance and have no rhythm
  • Rhymes make bad poetry

Bar the first one where I a few people might join me in severe lack of musical skill, they are pathetic reasons.

Of course the discussion happening across where more serious and deep theological discussions ususally occur has a lot more merit.

Striding on from some thoughts that I’ve thunk (sic) since, what is with theology and song?

Music is an almost constant in my life and for those who have grown up in Christian homes, you do get your musical kick-start in toe-tapping tunes (cringe), gloomy ballads, uplifting hymns, weird 80’s stuff that you can still appreciate ten years on, tedious Hillsong, baaaaad pop and the odd-but-rare musically brilliant song, this is where much of your understanding about God develops.

Music has clearly surpassed read poetry in this day and age – so this is what we emotionally connect to, this is what’s easy to remember, more respectable in social situations (than you know, discussing great slabs of scripture). It certainly doesn’t take precedence over what the Bible has to say but it’s the glistening reality.

Being in a post modernist society – like it or not – that emotional response, the feelings thing is somewhat important.

Is it all about evoking some emotional response toward God? Or is it about declaring his character? Do we sing from a gut full of joy, or do we sing because it’s the time for it and oh yeah, it sort of sounds cool?

I struggle most at church during the “worship”. After a year, possibly more of being forced to take a critical look at theology in all contexts of life this already cynical mind of mine is plagued by the first 30 minutes of my Sunday mornings at church. It’s not always bad, and I am in a church now where I can be quite comfortable with the majority of the songs, but it is an issue. It takes work and quite a lot of it to not let my mind, a) be generally distracted, b) not go ape over song lyrics. This is something I both appreciate and something I hate. It is hard to worship God in this way. The emotional high of past from getting caught up in inspiring music would sometimes be nice. I want to be able to sing it and mean it and feel it and know it to be true.

We can complain all we like about ‘bad worship songs’ and we’re good at it. We often have quite a just reason to, but what are we doing about it? We can of course eliminate the poor choices to satisfy the cynic but more importantly perhaps we can seek to stress the importance for people to think about what they’re singing, ground them in Biblical theology and explain that it extends beyond the sermon.

Who is God after all? Who are we in relation to Him?

What scares me is that our metaphors fall oh-so-short. I’ve had youth girls explaining that we are, ‘like a freckle’ on God’s face and awkwardly stumble with that understanding to attempt to explain what they thought about suffering. It all seems a little absurd.

Some things I read before posting this:
Top 5 Worst Worship Songs
Worship Leader: Trinity
Sources of Theology
Sources of Theology Continued
Words and Theology

4 Comments

  1. Timmeh said:

    Thud.

    It’s a bit like you just dropped a small thesis on your blog.

    I used to be shitty about songs…

    but then I realised how desperately I needed to worship.

    Do you honestly think God is more interested in you finding the perfect song… or in you lifting your voice and joining in?

    In myself, I came to believe that my nit-picking was just an excuse I created in my head to stay away from wierd scary intimacy with God.

    And then like you, I missed that feeling. Oh its just a feeling they say. Well why the bejeebers did God create feelings if he didn’t want us to feel things? Or does he want us to have feelings about everything ese in life except Him?

    Rationally, logically, we have to conclude that even irational illogical things like feelings are very very important.

    Is it better to ignore God completely than risk having an inadequate understanding. Would you say to Geoff… “look lets just have an imaginary relationship in case it doesn’t measure up to the dream”?

    If you want to get a better feel for how inadequate songs are… pick up the guitar in the corner of your loungroom, grab a pen… and set out to write something. Or write something, and I’ll song it for you.

    So I guess I’m being a bit of a smarty pants… but what I’m trying to get to, is that sometimes its worth pushing through the imperfections to get to the gold. I still don’t think God expects perfect worship from us… I think he loves the diversity of our imperfect worship. The question remains will you choose to worship?

    February 14, 2007
    Reply
  2. said:

    fair questions tim but is it possible for you to write a comment without sounding like a ‘smarty pants’? It’d help me listen if I didn’t always feel like you were nit-picking thoughts that say what I’ve said anyway. I’m not on about “inadequate” understandings not being okay. We’ll always have an inadequate response to God. It’s not about ignoring God. It’s about understanding where we should (if we can) best be coming from. It is about a choice of worship which is what I said so I’m a tad unclear as to why you felt you had to restate the point?

    February 14, 2007
    Reply
  3. said:

    there also can just be, “I want an emotional high” so I’ll go to xyz church for a bit. Truth – I’ve heard people say it. That’s not worship.

    February 14, 2007
    Reply
  4. Timmeh said:

    Yeah you’re right… and right about the smarty pants bit too

    i have a bit of blogging attitude this week. most of it showed up over in the G-zone. hmmm

    its a bit silly. Mostly just frustration becaues the boss keeps stuffing me around at work…. home again today because there’s not enough grapes.

    Sorry bec.

    February 14, 2007
    Reply

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