Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Religion and Rock and Roll

As this Lenten season draws to close, I find myself going over two song in my head and contemplating their potential for religious insight. The two songs are Like a Stone by AudioSlave and Michael Jordan by Five for Fighting.

Near the beginning of Lent, I read through the Catechism in my Book of Common Prayer. When I got to the section on prayer it said:
Q. What is adoration?
A. Adoration is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God,
asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence.
Q. Why do we praise God?
A. We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because
God’s Being draws praise from us.
This was the beginning of my musings on these two songs. First, there was Michael Jordan by Five for Fighting. (I actually hadn't heard the song in some time; it just came into my head.) In it John Ondrasik sings about his adoration for Michael Jordan and lists off the many seemingly outrageous things he would be willing to do in order to be Michael Jordan. At one point in the song he says "my god, my Jordan" and if you think about it, it is apparent that Michael Jordan really is his god, at least in the context of the song. And I thought about it in context of the previously quoted excerpt from the Catechism. It seems to me that this is the type of adoration that God wants us to have for him. Then I have to ask myself, do we? Do we just adore God and wish to do anything to simply be in his presence, or do we always want something in return.

That is what brings me to Like a Stone. In this song Chris Cornell sings:
on my deathbed i will pray
to the gods and the angels
like a pagan to anyone
who will take me to heaven
The truth in this song has struck me for a quite a while now. Do we really just pray to God because we believe that doing so will get us to heaven? To get to some great reward that is often even depicted in a material, worldly fashion (streets paved with gold, pearly gates, etc.)? Is it about the chance to be with God, or is it simply a chance to reunite with loved ones who we have lost?

How could an athlete or a singer or an actor, garner so much more adoration from so many people than we are honestly willing to give to the creator of our entire universe? And yet, if many of us were honest with ourselves we would find that we are willing to do more to see or be close to these types of people than we are to truly be close to God. How do we get past the immediate and the physical to adore someone who is eternal and yet not physically visible to us in a manifest form? Are we willing to do the things that God asks us to do on a daily basis? Would we be willing to do them if our favorite athlete, actor or singer asked us to do them? I wonder.

Now keep in mind that I am not leaving myself out of this equation, nor do I have a real answer to my own questions. These are simply some of the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head this Lenten season and I felt the need to share them with anyone who felt inclined to read them.