Side comment – WordPress changed the backend yet again. Now it’s even harder to find the “New Post” button. What is with large internet companies radically changing how their websites are interacted with? I’m looking at you, Facebook! Anyways…
To the Rabbit Room article: Avoiding Convenience – A Word To Hymn Writers. I’ve known and listened to Fernando Ortega for years. I won’t pretend that I follow him or anything, but I’ve owned a few of his cds and enjoyed them. The article, to summarize, basically says that modern hymn writers are taking it too easy, reaching for the cheap instead of the majestic and glorious that can occur in hymn writing. And I’d agree wholeheartedly.
Look at his quickly made up example, which sounds perfectly like something you’d find in more popular churches or churches that try to hard to not be religious or orthodox:
God, you are a Holy God
I need your grace to see me through
I need your mercy to make me new
Let me live each day for you
Is that true? Yes. Is that good? Of course. But also sounds like something I sung in Sunday School when I was still single digits, although I doubt anyone under the age of 10 can really articulate God’s grace and mercy. Here’s the example Ortega holds up to that:
Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
A mouthful, sure. But WOW, what depth and insight into God and ourselves! The difference is night and dark, to use an abused example. I’ve been attending a church that has house churches on Sundays, and I may have surprised a few people when I got a little forceful (or rather, had a thought out opinion) that a hymn such as the one immediately above is not “dead religion” and is something of deeper meaning than the fluff written above it. People have preferences, and there is a time for everything, but speaking solely for myself, I’m much more comfortable singing hymns that have meaning than just endlessly repeated refrains or truisms.
I don’t think I’m comfortable attending churches where the prevailing attitude is “want God and not religion?” or “most churches are dead and boring” or “it’s a great place to bring my unsaved friends!” For each of those I could provide a sound rebuttal as to how that attitude is probably unbiblical and the exact opposite effect you intend will occur. To that end, I don’t think this church I’m attending is the right one for me. I chose it for reasons that weren’t sound or biblical, and in one or two cases in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit. Nearly every time I’m there I feel trapped and desire to be at another church. The sermons have little mention of the gospel or Jesus other than “God can turn your life around”, the sermons are always topical and scattershot at that, despite the topics being great for my age group. The people are great, music isn’t half bad, but the leadership, while all good people and inline with me theologically, are just a little too…fundamentalist, for lack of a better word.
This ties into the Rabbit Room article nicely, because we had a worship sessions during house church on Sunday. And despite the fact that I didn’t know the song at all, and could only see the projection lyrics through one eye due to a really tall guy in front of me, the lyrics I did read, I wasn’t comfortable singing, and so didn’t. I didn’t want to lie. I didn’t want to experience small false sense of worship. I didn’t want to dishonor God. I was genuinely uncomfortable with the lyrics. It was a great song for the women in the room, they all seemed to love it, but it took the cosmic boyfriend aspect a little too far. I don’t recall the song title or who wrote it, but it was very much “bride waiting on groom”. And I couldn’t sing it.
I used to mock those people who couldn’t sing hymns written after a certain date because of the questionable content. I get it now. Sometimes I can disconnect and still sing a long, but in my heart I know I’m deceiving others. I wish I hadn’t mocked those people years ago.
Yet I still don’t want to become those people and I am ashamed I am becoming that. Yet another aspect of myself that I absolutely despise.
Truth with love is a hard thing. Because sooner or later, truth always wins.
Then again, I’m the guy who considers Magnificent by U2 to be the best worship song written in the last 10 years! Your mileage may vary.