Last night at the college fellowship group I help run, we talked about music. I love music! I love singing it and playing it and listening to it. Since becoming friends and then roommates with Elizabeth, my musical repertoire has gotten vastly larger. Whereas my musical roots are mostly contemporary Christian and country, hers are heavy metal, rap, and of course 80s. She has opened me up to a lot of things that I would not have listened to in the past, and hopefully that is a two-way street. Some of it I like a lot, and some of it I can tolerate.
Our main goal last night at Nine.Thirty.Seven. was to give students a taste of the wide variety of Christian music styles there are nowadays. We weren't trying to say that they ought to be listening only to Christian music, but just to give them some options that would be more positive and uplifting than much of the music on the radio today. It can be said of any era that some of the music is really bad, and some is really good! The thing that worries me is how little we think about the music we listen to. Several months ago, John Mayer had a song out called "Waiting on the World to Change." I really like John Mayer's musical style, and initially I really liked that song. But the more I listened to it, the more I felt unsettled. The premise of the song is that the state of the world is very poor, and we would like it to be different, but things are out of our control and so we just have to wait for it to change. This is ridiculous! And it typeifies an American attitude of today, that we should just whine and complain about things being horrible instead of actually doing something about it.
Another song that I've been thinking about recently is called "Famous Last Words" by My Chemical Romance. It's a good song, generally positive and not derogatory, and for a while it was my roommate's ringtone. It is catchy and singable and upbeat. But there's something off about it. The first part of the chorus goes like this:
I am not afraid to keep on living
I am not afraid to walk this world alone
One part of me really identifies with those lines. I am a very independent person, and I have been from an early age. (Heading out for the bus on my second day of kindergarten, I firmly stated, "I can do it myself, Mom!") I am fairly self-sufficient, and I get a little annoyed when people try to tell me that I can't do things, particularly if it has to do with me being a woman. I take pride in the fact that I know how to do lots of things.
At the same time, though, something about those lines unsettles me. Putting aside my pride in independence, the fact is that I am afraid to walk this world alone. From the beginning of time, human beings were created to be in relationship with one another, and I am not exempt from any of this. I need other people to help me learn things, to keep me accountable, to make me laugh, to tell me when I'm wrong or affirm me when I'm right. The fact is... I need you.
So the next time you hear a song on the radio, take a few moments to think about it. Is it right? Is it wrong? Why? Why not? A little bit of critical thinking has never hurt anybody.