God Songs

Tonight, I was needing a little extra something from God.   Somewhere along the way, I’ve gotten out of the habbit of asking Him for that little extra… something, when I need it.  Because he often delivers, when I ask.  But then again, sometimes, he delivers even when I’m not wise enough to ask.

I struggle with anxiety.  I hate saying that, partially because it can sound a bit like saying, I suffer from hang nails.  And sometimes, I’m annoyed by garden-variety anxiousness: a little bit of extra energy, a little bit of a wandering mind, a little bit of a need to stand up and walk around and do something physical.

But every now and again, it is this whole other beast.  If Garden variety anxiousness is this little biting fly, then anxiety, full grown anxiety, is a hive full of yellow jackets, agitated and coming for me.

I was cleaning up.  Because it was either that or risk my brains exploding.

And I wanted to put some music on.  Because that’s what I do.

And I found some C.D.’s, blank ones, the kind you burn songs on from a computer.  The first one was this performance poet I picked up a few years ago.  It’s really great stuff, insightful and funny, but it’s quite high-energy and wasn’t really good accompanient to loading the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen.

I took it out… the next one was this C.D. I burned a while ago.

I have to say, I was pretty impressed with what was on it.  I don’t think I’m bragging, here.  I’m going to side step the question of whether I can take credit for it.  On one level it was me who put it together… But on some other level?  I don’t know.

I made the C.D. a yearish ago.  And then I more or less forgot about it.  I made it because a lot of my favorite songs about God are kind of all over the place.  I tend to burn out pretty quickly on C.D.’s that are nothing but “worship music”.  Because somewhere along the way, somebody decided that worship music means songs that are some kind-of spiritual masturbation, about all the thing that god (with a lower case g) does for Me (with a capital M)

On the other hand, songs that are on C.D.’s that aren’t entirely “worship music” they tend to be these… sumnations of everything the singer wants to say to God, or about God.  Maybe it’s just a testament to the fact that I can be melancholy.  But a lot of these songs, they can be a bit… dark.

At any rate, this C.D., it had some Ben Harper.  (“Like a summer Rose/ I’m a victim of the Fall/ Mourning Yearning) And it had that amazing “Held” sung (It’s attrocious/ to think that Providence/ Would take a child/ From her mother/ While she’s praying…) and U2 (Has anybody ever written a better song of praise than Yahwew?)  and Switchfoot (I wanna wrestle the angel/ for more than a name…)

And slowly, the more traditional worship songs began to make an appearance.  They weren’t even versions by big-named artists.  A while ago I sprang ten bucks for one of those anthologies from the machines at Target that has the big square buttons that you push and it plays selections of the songs.

I didn’t last very long listening to that C.D. from Target.  It all got cloying.

But on this C.D., it was close to perfect.  It was like I kind-of earned the right to rejoice, or the rejoicing meant something, it was defined by the earlier stuff.  I don’t know if this is a crazy-wierd analogy, but I got to thinking about TV shows, movies, or novels, where characters die and they don’t come back.  Suddenly, everything means more when you’re playing for keeps, when you’re reallhy grappling with the real deal.  (I suppose this is why I love the novel, “The Shack” the narrator somehow earns the right to rejoice with God, by not turning away from the tough darkness in life.)

I also got to thinking about parts of the Pslams, Lamentations, and my favorite Old Testament book, Eccliastes.  The joy expressed in scripture is somehow defined by the fact that there is no flinching, sugar-coating, or soft-pedaling the fact that life, it can be pretty haRD.

What would be on your perfect mix C.D. built around songs about God?


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “God Songs”

  1. “Suddenly, everything means more when you’re playing for keeps, when you’re really grappling with the real deal.” I like that a lot. Your deep thoughts are inspirational. Thanks for sharing.


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