Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wisdom of Jars of Clay

In an earlier post I shared my propensity for educational podcasts on long car rides. This past weekend, on a trek to West Virginia, my stereo was pumping economics, politics, and other cool material.  Hopefully the variety will provide fodder for future posts. Today though the post is about the music on that car ride: Jars of Clay and their album Good Monsters. Mark shared the album with me a couple years ago, and I had forgotten how really moving the music and lyrics were. I thought I would share a few of the highlights with our readers,

The title track on the album "Good Monsters" is phenomenal here are some excerpts:

Not all monsters are bad
But the ones who are good
Never do what they could, never do what they could

. . . and later on in the song . . . 

All the good monsters rattle their chains
And dance around the open flames
They make a lot of empty noise

While all of the bright eyes turn away
As if there wasn't anything to say
About the justice and the mystery

Finally, the song closes with,

We are forms of all the things we love

The lyrics took me a while to understand. I'm still not certain that I fully understand them, but, I think the verses are pointing out that Christians make vain and apathetic disciples when following Christ is adventurous, romantic, painful, and difficult.  Other prospective followers seeing the Gospels not being lived out turn away in disgust because we don't show them "the justice and the mystery" of salvation. In the end, we are forms of all that we love, and since we mostly love ourselves, we are not like Christ.

Then, the song "Oh My God" is gut wrenching, especially from the point where the singer whispers the honest question, "Oh my God, can I complain?" and then the crescendo reaches higher and higher:

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we're better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children - this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers - this is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God
Yet, another song that I still do not completely understand but I completely understand when God grafts the singer's soul upon His grief. We need that. I know I need the desire not to be apathetic. The desire, as weird as it sounds, to feel pain because you know that you should care more than you do. 

The last slab or lyrics before I end this post are from the song "Mirrors and Smoke" which seems to be about marriage and loving your spouse. Throughout much of the song the lyrics are depressing, backed by a bouncy beat. Then, the woman singing in the song has an epiphany,

Baby, don't you cry, 'cause I got it all figured out
You always make me sad
But that's what true love is all about
Rivers never fill the oceans
But oceans always feel
The waters reaching deep inside them
I guess they always will

For most of the song the singers lament that they pour into each other but it never fills the void. Yet, that is not the point of loving each other! The "oceans always feel" and "love is a constant mission". What a lesson! 

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