Friday, September 21, 2012

Singing about Jesus without Singing about Jesus

Can you write a song that is redemptive without mentioning Jesus? Well, actually you can. Our youngest son releases his debut album, Sound Manifesto, on October 2 (available for download on iTunes or available on CD through Amazon…I know, a shameless plug). I personally love every song on the album (shocker there, right?!). But there are a couple songs that are particularly redemptive...without even mentioning Jesus. One of those songs flowed out of a literature assignment from The Westminster School at Oak Mountain, where Michael was classically educated before heading to Belmont. Edgar Allen Poe published a poem in 1849 called “A Dream Within a Dream.” The theme of the poem focuses on the insignificance and brevity of an individual’s life and experiences, especially when considered in light of the continuum of time. In particular, Poe seems to be somewhat despairing that neither his life, nor any of his experiences or “dreams” have any ultimate meaning whatsoever. In the eighth track on his upcoming album, Michael redemptively tackles the question raised by Poe: “O God! Can I not save/One [dream/experience] from the pitiless wave?/Is all that we see or seem/But a dream within a dream?” Before he tackles the question, however, the song begins with Michael addressing Mr. Poe: “Hello Mr. Poe/I’d like to know/Where were you goin/When you wrote that poem?/The one that says life’s just a dream/Well, your despair is bursting at the seams./You seemed to have a lot of bad days./So now I have some things that I would like to say." The song is redemptive right from the start. How? Because Michael makes clear he is taking Mr. Poe seriously, man-to-man, image-bearer to image-bearer, whether Poe acknowledges a Creator or not. Michael affords Mr. Poe the dignity of knowing he has been heard by another. His lyrics say to Poe: “I care about what you wrote. I want to understand you. I hear your despair.” There are few postures we can take before our fellow man that treat them with more respect and honor…and love. Then, in a line that shows incredible empathy and understanding, Michael writes: “You seemed to have a lot of bad days.” Sometimes the greatest act of love toward another is to identify with their pain and suffering. I am often guilty of trying to “fix” people instead of simply acknowledging their “hard days” and empathizing with them. See, you really can write a song that is redemptive without mentioning Jesus…reflecting Him and representing Him will do just fine.

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