Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Isn't This World Enough?

Isn't This World Enough? - Admiral Fallow (mp3)

My daughters recently attended this Christian mega-concert with their youth group. They got in line and waited for over two hours for the chance to pay $10 to see five hours’ worth of music from bands they’d barely if ever heard.

When they later relayed their experience to me, their favorite moment wasn’t even a performance.

At about the halfway point, a hip young preacher offered a “ministry moment.” He played a bunch of video clips from hit pop songs teens and tweens adore. One Direction, Ke$ha, Maroon 5, basically a sampling of your predictable hottie-driven chart-toppers. His point in these clips were to point out the evil of this pop music, with its obsession on earthly things. This evil pop music corrupts the soul by pushing the flesh and the substances and by glorifying the immoral.

Unfortunately -- but amusingly for many in the audience including my girls -- he was having difficulty delivering his message over the sounds of an audience singing along with the videos. And he was utterly drowned out by girl-shrieks when One Direction was on the screen.

What aggravates me about a message like this man’s is how he expects all of us to find Jesus in the exact pill he prescribes, through clean songs with clean messages. As if the path to the discovery or ignition of faith is some pinhole.

Very few, in fact, find Jesus through Christian rock. Seems to me most people find their religion in trying times and in dark moments. And, once found, Christianity can occasionally be coddled or comforted through music suited to do so.

Because I'm a contrarian and unhealthily in love with discourse, where I and many others find faith’s greatest bulwark (or bungee cord, if you prefer) is by shoving it into the very earthly and immoral music that Converse-wearing hip preacher decried. Part of that is my contrarian nature, my desire to grow through exposure to ideas and philosophies so different from my natural inclinations.

My latest beloved confrontation has come through Admiral Fallow’s song, “Isn’t This World Enough,” which is a catchy song on a very strong album (Tree Bursts In Snow). It wears its atheism proudly on its sleeve, and I love the song for it.

Basically every secondary line is the title phrase. Like, in this couplet:

Searching for answers in clouds and under rocks
Isn’t this world enough?

If that’s not “anti-Jesus” enough for you, try the bridge lyrics:

So love this vessel while you're aboard
There will be no deposit back from a cosmic landlord
You don't need to hang your hat on belief in bumper stickers
There will be no love lost just pull on that ripcord

These sentiments do not anger me, or frustrate me, or sadden me. They certainly don’t scare me. In fact, a healthy chunk of me celebrates these sentiments. Does that make me contradictory or confused or hypocritical? Probably.

I listened to this song at least 20 times the week after the tragedy in Newtown, and many more times since. No line in this song talks of how this world should be enough for a 6-year-old who is murdered in their school. That line, I suspect, would be more difficult for the band to write and sing. Is this world enough for them? Dead at six?

Don’t misunderstand. The Newtown Massacre doesn’t prove there’s a God. If Admiral Fallow have no interest in a cosmic landlord, I respect it, and I still love the hell out of their album. But I found myself loving their question because I wasn’t answering it the way they wanted.

No. No. This world is not enough. Not for innocent children taken too early by a bullet or a malignancy or a parent who shook it too hard for too long. No, this world is not enough. Not for lost teenagers, not for hardened adults, not for Bettye White. No, this world is not enough.

When our hearts beat their last, and when that last exhale has passed our lips, it’s possible we’re done forever and nothing more awaits the 23 grams of our soul. But it will never be enough.


Daisy said...

Great song and great post. Is it too much to ask to have some sort of warning label on these tear jerking posts?

Unknown said...


I think you'll enjoy this read.

Billy said...

@Daisy - Thanks and sorry. Tears were not my intent, but I'm insensitive enough to be OK with that consequence!

@Unknown - Thank you thank you! I'm already on P.5 and have found no shortage of reasons to chuckle.

G. B. Miller said...

Nice segue from the hip young preacher to the what happened last month.

Troubling new developmet going on now, with "truthers" saying that the entire thing was a hoax. They've stooped down to harassing some poor guy who saved some children from the shooting.

nj windshield replacement said...

Truly inspiring seeing talented people like these.

Unknown said...

Don't know why I'm unknown. Nichols out.

Saeed Zia said...
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Saeed Zia said...
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