Saturday, November 04, 2006

I was searching for a notebook; it's a notebook that would contain my notes and reflections on four English renderings of 1 Cor 11:23-30 (look it up for yourself) as a small part of an exegetical paper I'm writing. In the course of my fruitless searching, I found some music: She Must And Shall Go Free, by Derek Webb. I said, "Geez, I haven't listened to this since 'W' carved up a certain French-looking Senator from Massachusetts." I thought it had been lost or stolen. So, I put it in my computer, 'ripping' the tracks to my extensive library. Now, before I say this, let me say this other thing: I am a HUGE fan of Caedmon's Call. I believe the whole gaggle of them are among the more accomplished songwriters and musicians on the planet at this point in time. And Mr. Webb deserves 99% percent of the praise he's received. That said...
This album in spots is insufferably pretentious. At what point, and by who's urging, did Derek Webb receive an anointing as a prophet to the American evangelical church? Did you, or someone you know, ask him to do this? More importantly, to what end? Considering Derek's (and my own) confessional context (theologically conservative, evangelical, and Reformed) does anyone seriously think that this group of people is too easy on themselves? I can say from experience that these people need to think more of Christ, and frankly, less time pondering their wickedness. This is because we Presbyterians (and various other Reformed peoples) never seem to engage the practice with the right heart, that is, repentance and celebration. But we know how to feel guilty, and to show other people how guilty we feel. This record is a guilt-trip of the highest order. There really isn't enough celebrating God in Christ here. Ironically, the most joyful songs in this whole set have lyrics penned by someone else (the title track, and "Awake My Soul") I'll give him a pass on the personification of Jesus, dangerous as that is. But one can't tell at times which one (Jesus or Derek) is speaking. Consider: "Beloved, these are perilous days/your culture is so set in its ways." And, "I'm turning over tables in my own living room." And the second, set in the context of the song ("Nobody Loves Me"), Derek seems to relish making his fellow pilgrims uncomfortable. In short, Jesus Christ loves American Christians way more than does Derek Webb. No surprise there, I guess. But Webb sure could learn about grace (and humility).
But I'm no authority. I still enjoy it overall; it's just so cool and hip to bash one's culture, lament capitalism, and fear patriotism, that it's hard to view the music as prophetic when those formulations are so widespread. It's three years hence, and it all seems canned. (And kinda leftist)