This is the same guy who introduced me to my favorite new music group/band so I paid attention, found the performance on You Tube and watched it. If you have not seen this and want to…stop reading now. You may want to either go watch it or don’t blame me because I’m about to spoil it for you.
The song is a combination of Rap and what I would call R&B, whose lyrics confront the issues of sexual identity and the questions this raises in our culture about equality. It is a bit critical of the voice of faith. And yet the entire set is meant to look like a church; vaulted ceilings, stain glass windows even a choir with choir robes. And then near the end there are something like 33 couples of all kinds, white and black, gay and straight, interracial and bi-racial all kinds of different couples standing in what looks to be the church isle. They are all invited to exchange rings, a promise is invoked for them and right there in California, on national TV with Queen Latifah presiding they are married.
There are hugs and kisses and more music and tears and then fade to commercial.
After watching this I asked my friend in Nashville through Facebook what he thought of this. I’m always interested in his thoughts because he sometimes surprises me. He said first that; “No,” he was not offended. But neither was he as moved as was the guy from my church. He saw it as a way to shock and get attention something of an expression of Civil Religion. I thought it was something like the “civil” wanting to be religious. Personally, I’m in-between my two friends.
If as they say, “Imitation is the most sincerest form… or best form of flattery,” then I suppose we should be grateful. And yet most of the imitating I’ve seen that attempts to flatter is ironic at best and cynical at its worst. So which is it in this case? And what do we do when something like the Grammy awards gets our attention and either moves us to tears or lulls us to sleep or somewhere in-between?
I’m not saying that we need extravagant sets and people dressed to the nines and Madonna making a dramatic appearance in church to have our views on any social issue made legitimate or our awareness raised. But these things remind me that our culture as a whole is watching, and paying attention to us.
Songs like these are not written in a vacuum, the experience that is related is not made up. Sometimes we are reminded in the middle of our living room; in the middle of a TV show that there are hurting souls out there. If we listen it also says even though we may by association be in part a cause of the pain, we also in the imitation are a part of the hope, and maybe the healing that is needed.
My friend in Nashville calls this an opportunity for the door to be opened to talk about the gospel. My friend in Eden Prairie, I think, is saying that by being moved he has in some way had a doorway open for him. Either way there is something of God speaking in this, even if it’s a little harder for some of us to understand the lyrics of God’s song.
Keep the Faith!