Saturday, September 1, 2012

Some thoughts on Popular Music and Theology...

I finished a class on the Theology of Popular Music and completed my final project last night: pick 10 songs from your play list and give, 1. why you like it, 2. what the song is about, 3. theological/spiritual assessment of the song. I'm going to be posting my 10 songs one at a time in various posts. I would appreciate comments and thoughts about what song would be on your list.

As in an introduction, though, for theology to engage the culture it's about inquiry. We ask questions. Music is very subjective. What a listener may understand from a song may be very different than what the artist intended. Both are making meaning. Yet, the music, the sound itself gives a meaning. The lyrics give another layer of meaning. In theological reflection, we try to listen deeply at the issues, emotions, feelings being expressed so as to engage in the dialogue. Music can sometimes give voice to the emotions and desires that lie hidden--What is the meaning of life? How do I deal with disillusionment? Who am I? In an Incarnational theology, we reflect on who God is by looking at who the human person is. So, here we go....

My first song:
by: Alanis Morissette
Album: Havoc and Bright Lights
Guardian-Alanis Morissette official video

Subjective: This song’s hard-hitting guitar intro and subsequent soft ballad strike deep in my soul. But, being an Alanis Morissette song, the lyrics play a significant, yet often confusing role considering her unique use of language and grammar, or the lack thereof. Reflecting on my own experience, I connect with this song about being a guardian for those we love, yet at the same time leaving them free to be themselves.
Objective: Considering that the album, Havoc and Bright Lights, of which this is the opening song, is released shortly after Alanis became a wife and mother, I sense that she addresses these life-altering choices. This song is different than the angst-ridden-music she is known for. She speaks of being a, “warrior of care, your first warden” and an “angel on call” yet does not see it as a burden, but a privilege. Authentic love naturally protects, shields from danger and wishes the best for the loved one.
Theological: Our concern for those we love is an admirable and god-like quality. We naturally want to protect them, guard them and defend them from harm.  But it cannot be a smothering concern that stifles the other. When we love others, we want to see them happy, but we cannot live their life for them. We must let them be free as God leaves human beings free. Our love, when genuinely selfless, is a God-like love which always allows the other to be the best of who they are and to grow to their full potential.

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