Tuesday, January 27, 2009
C.S.Lewis and Anberlin.....
So. Perhaps you know both of the names in that title. I am very fond of both. C.S. Lewis has the most wonderful knack for putting unshakable truth into simple, yet deep words. Anberlin has been a favorite of mine for almost as long as Lewis. I enjoy their honest, poetic songwriting, how each song tells a story, and each time I listen to them, I notice something that escaped me before, whether musical or lyrical. Oddly enough, I almost never like their CDs the first time around, but by the third or fourth listen, it has grown on me immensely, worked itself irrevocably into my brain.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book called Surprised By Joy, about how earnestly we seek for joy, not just happiness, not a thrill, but the bittersweet ache you get when a beautiful scene creeps up on you, or when a song or book strikes some deep vein. I forget what hymn it's from, but "Deep calling to deep" describes it pretty well. He talked about how we chase these glimpses, and the medium they come through, hoping to be satisfied, only to find when we look so hard, the joy is gone. I can identify with that, having been enchanted with many things in looking for joy, only to be let down. Lewis points out that when we find Jesus, the source of all joy, these glimpses are put perfectly in perspective because we finally know where they come from. What does this have to do with Anberlin I hear you thinking....(just kidding. I can't read thoughts or even broad hints)
I saw them at First Ave not too long ago, and besides the noise-happy adrenaline I've lately been deprived of, not having gone to a concert in months, I came away soberly encouraged by several of their songs. I am not sure what it was that made the meanings stand out, except that perhaps when a song is sung with others, with a band, it gains some dimension not found when you listen to your IPod or sing in the car. Maybe you know the songs, maybe not. Here they are.
-Hello Alone, from Cities.
This is at first listen a depressing song. Honest, but depressing. Yet a few of the lines struck me. Singing "Are you ever coming home?" resounded with the desire I sometimes have that Jesus would just come now, conquer, end all the darkness that sometimes seems overwhelming. ""Do you care at all/do you care at all/DO YOU CARE AT ALL?" suddenly revealed itself to be a central question. You cannot be a Christian unless, by the grace of God, you care. Apathy is not an option, though we all fall into it. Caring what happens to eternal souls is one notch below caring about God, though I often forget it. Lastly, the ending line "From a lesser known I'm here, and there's hope/There's hope" was immensely encouraging. Belief in God may be scarce in some places, yet that does not change the fact that he exists, and he is good, even when alone seems to be the only thing greeting you.
-The Unwinding Cable Car, also from Cities
This one speaks for itself. "This is the correlation between salvation and love/Don't drop your arms/With quiet words I'll lead you/In and out of the dark....Don't soon forget/Grace marks your heart." It was lovely to be reminded I am loved. By the Creator of the universe, no less.
-Inevitable, Cities (just a stellar album...)
Beautiful song. "I want to be your last first kiss....Lying here beside you with arms and eyes open wide.." Not staring at each other. Lying side by side staring at something greater. Monogamy is not the boredom or fundamentalism our culture wishes to convince us it is. It encouraged me to hear 400 people sing this song whole-heartedly, even if not all of them fully understand or accept its meaning. I was suddenly very grateful that Anberlin wrote such a song.
-The Resistance, from New Surrender
This was all the more powerful seeing that it was the night before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. "Speak for yourself/You paper tigers/ Too late to make demands/When you've got a riot on your hands....Voice for the voiceless/With every common man engaged" It has been said countless times, but truth bears repeating. We live in a world full of injustice and pain, whether inflicted openly in the genocide of civil war or dictatorship, in reducing people to animals through quiet discrimination and ostracism, or under cover of pretty-sounding words in the name of women's rights. The abundance of it does not give one an excuse not to fight it, rather the opposite. In the end, it is a paper tiger, and it will fall, in this world or the next.
P.S. Stats on abortion I didn't know. Since 1973, 50 million children are dead in the United States alone, over 1 billion worldwide. Minority women make up a fourth of the women in the U.S., yet 57% of abortions are minorities. For every four people that exist, one does not, due to abortion. Forgive me if I harp on this. People are killed in all stages of life, in war, disease, murder, whatever else, and it is no less wrong. Yet it rankles in my brain that people would have us believe it should be legal to kill our children.
P.P.S. Oh yeah, and thank you Anberlin for so faithfully giving glimpses of truth and beauty in the dark. Methinks Clive Staples (is that not a wonderful middle name? No wonder he wanted to be called Jack...) would have liked you.