A Melancholy Lament –OR– Things I Lost While Listening to Contemporary Christian Music

“Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

Today on the way to my son’s basketball practice a song from 1997 came on that I didn’t know I loved until at least 2003.I hadn’t really heard it until then. It was How’s It Gonna Be by Third Eye Blind.  And so it began. The rest of the drive was spent mourning the loss of the music, the people, and the parts of myself that I couldn’t reconcile with my conditioning.

I lamented the beauty and the pain, the melancholy and the truth that I had been conditioned to discount in “secular” music during the season of my life where my personal soundtrack was made up of CCM (for the uninitiated that stands for contemporary Christian music). Little did I know I had been bamboozled (mostly by other well-meaning bamboozlees) into exchanging a sanitized and tamed version of life for what I was told was a life apart from God and truth. In reality, what I was exchanging was a small and bland life for the technicolor version. (Not unlike exchanging the Chris Tomlin version of Where the Streets have no name for the U2 original).

It is funny, but we were talking at Novitas this week about asking the hard questions. The questions we were taught not to ask. The questions we were told were a slippery slope. And guess what? They were.

FLASHBACK: When I was in high school there was little I allowed to stop me from loving my friends. It did not matter if we shared the same faith tradition or the same family structure. I loved them and they loved me. Interestingly enough, the more I immersed myself in evangelicalism and the gospel of less of me more of you. (a “gospel” I could never quite stomach in the secret places of my soul)  the less inclusive, less loving and more judgmental I became. Funny, that I have now come full circle and have reconciled the cognitive dissonance I used to experience when I believed the Bible contained ALL the answers to EVERY situation and was without error. I still believe the Scriptures contain the answer: LOVE.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. -Romans 13:8-10
We have been doing a series of discussions/debates/meanderings at Novitas called the lies we’ve been told and the truth that sets us free. In this case the lie I was told was that there was a difference; a difference between sacred and secular, a difference between the redeemed and the damned, a difference between Jesus and the least of these. The truth that sets me free? There is only sacred. There is only redeemed. We are all reflected in the face of Jesus.

So yes, today I lament my losses. I lament the rejection of the poetry of Kurt Cobain that moves me to tears. I lament the loss of the connections I had with the friends of my youth. Friends I began to see as other when they were the marrow of life in my bones all along. I lament the loss of books and poetry and music and the people I floated by in my evangelical bubble thinking that what they needed was a bubble when what I desperately needed was a pin to burst mine.

Enter the slippery slope.

How I love the slippery slope.

I am going to let you in on a little secret, “they” are right about the slippery slope! It is slippery as all get out and it is the best ride going.

When you start asking questions and refuse to be silenced by easy answers, platitudes, accusations and apologetics, one thing happens…you have MORE QUESTIONS. Can this be unsettling at first? Of course. Is it the best thing that could have happened to me at this point in life? Without a doubt.

Because of the slippery slope, I am a better follower of the one who commanded us to love one another than I ever was when I thought I had all the answers. Funny how that works. Sometimes when we let go of the thing we have clung to the hardest we find the freedom we thought we already had.

In my uncertainty I am certain of one thing. Love wins. (Nod to Rob Bell) It is THE thing. The one big idea that if embraced could change literally everything.

So yes, I lament what I have lost. And yes, I rejoice in what I have gained. Perhaps it is like the prophet Joel said, God has restored to me what the locusts (of my evangelical years) have eaten. My bubble has burst. I can hear the music. And guess what? It sounds like teen spirit.

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7 thoughts on “A Melancholy Lament –OR– Things I Lost While Listening to Contemporary Christian Music

  1. Wonderful post! Yes, Love Wins! Unfortunately, some people who leave evangelical Christianity are never able to quite regain the “joy in believing.” I’m so glad your slippery slope was such a great ride. And I love that Calvin & Hobbes cartoon!

  2. Congratulations!

    “Everybody, look at Me, Now!” commanded the girl on the trampoline as I passed, and I loved her clarity. Perhaps you get your clarity back. Become as a Child!

  3. Julie says:

    So authentic, as always! Just what I needed today. Thank you.
    “Enjoy the ride of the slippery slope.”
    If we stop questioning and searching, won’t we stagnate?

  4. Andrew says:

    Wow…thanks so much for this post. I have gone through such a similar transformation and so much of what you said I really resonated with. It’s just really nice to know I’m not alone. I have a large family that is so scared of this slippery slope and I often feel so lost as to how to interact with them, as well as judged for who I am. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you!

    • racefangurl says:

      My mom likes Rich Mullins music. I kind of like it too. I’m a K-Love music girl. His songs were on K-Love when I was a kid.

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