Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two rants (sort of)

First, I was listening to Mercy Me the other day, and I generally enjoy their music. Not the most amazing thing in the world, but solid, and enjoyable when I want a break from sermons and classical music and soundtracks. (Occasionally, I do get in the mood for vocal music. Not often, but occasionally.) One of their tracks from Undone has an annoying innacurate statement in it, though: sung to God, "You are everything illogical, and that's okay." Well, beyond the fact that God being everything illogical would mean he would, among other things, be himself and not himself, etc.—I'm willing to grant poetic license some room to work with here—it's just a terrible line. God is not illogical.

Beyond comprehension? Absolutely. Not capable of being reduced to terms described by mere human reason? Certainly. Not merely logical? Without a doubt. But everything illogical? I know, it's not what they were trying to say (they were trying to get at his incomprehensibility and the greatness of all he has done, and how it defies human expectations or understanding)... but it is what they did say. And what we say means something, sometimes even the opposite of what we intend it to mean.

Anyone who has been in any kind of committed relationship—a deep friendship, a romance, you name it—understands that what we mean is not what the other person hears: what we say is. How we choose to phrase things is important. So, when dealing with songs, we should be careful in how we string words together, not merely saying things because they sound cool and sort of communicate what we are thinking or feeling. (That, as an aside, is part of what makes Jon Foreman so solid as a songwriter: every line clearly has some thought behind it, and it is not haphazard. The same can be said, in a totally different style, of Brooke Fraser. If you're not listening to at least one of them, you should be, so follow those links and get some good music.)

In part, this is frustrating because I am deeply committed to saying true things about God, and think that all of us ought to be far more careful in how we speak of him. That responsibility is only heightened when one has a large platform and an attentive audience—which Mercy Me certainly has had! It is also annoying because the song gets stuck in my head... and then I'm left with words ricocheting around in my brain that are not only theologically imprecise (which would already be sufficient to produce considerable annoyance) but deeply inaccurate. In other words, as egregious as their error was, it is made far worse that it was married to a sufficiently catchy tune and sufficiently well put-together background that it is a memorable inaccuracy.

Music is dangerous, people. Remember that. (But remember that dangerous can be synonymous with good. Think Aslan...)


  1. I seriously thought that said "think Asian" when I first saw it!

  2. Here's my conclusions:
    God is everything illogical
    Spock is logical
    Therefore, Spock is not God

    God is dangerous
    Dangerous is good
    Jack Bauer is dangerous
    Therefore Jack Bauer is God (illogical, therefore true)

    Suddenly my life makes sense...:)


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