this could go viral, i suppose. at any rate, it’ll be fun. i learned about “shuffle lessons” from my friend adam. he followed up his friend’s vol. 1 with his own version in vol. 2. the concept is simple. set itunes or your portable player to shuffle, see what comes up, and write a little about each song.
leave it to me to make it complicated.
you see, my “music” tab is pushing 20,000 items. and i’ve probably got more playlists than many people have songs. random shuffle from the entire library may be sort of fun for my own enjoyment, but it wouldn’t be much to read about. my songs are and have been such a rich and integral part of my life, i need a deeper level of reflection. think of it as shuffle lessons 2.0 – the andrew upgrade. here are the rules i followed.
- all Christmas music, instrumental, and spoken word tracks are excluded.
- a youtube version had to be available, preferably of a performance or official concept video.
- at some point in my life, i could sing along with each song.
- in tandem with #3, i have a personal connection to each song and/or artist, which i relate below.
here goes! (lyrics are linked on each song title)
i go to the river – ray boltz this one was a doozy to start off. ray and i, we go way back. the first time i heard his song “thank you” on angel 95, i had to pull my car over to the side of the street and have a cry. (confession: it still produces this effect.) i sang it at fca my senior year of high school. i cherished every cassette he ever made (those of you younger than 25, ask your parents). i even got to see the mulletted dynamo live in concert, and got to hang out with him in the green room before the show. a few years later, i went on a teen mania mission trip with his son.
the songs started to fade by the new millennium, as most from the 90s did. then in 2008, i was shocked and saddened to learn via a facebook message that ray had come out as gay (to family and friends) several years earlier. the shock and sadness were not because of his revelation, but rather for him and his family, because i knew that Christians have a nasty habit of shooting their wounded. sure enough, the debate was loud and polarized. the article on Christianity today garnered scores if not hundreds of comments, some attempting compassion but many condemning with vitriolic fervor. (“thank you for those insightful, out-of-context proof texts. they totally changed my mind and heart,” said no lgbt person, ever.)
i really hope to keep from reigniting that or any round of clobber-versing and accusations of intolerance. in 2010, another favorite of mine, jennifer knapp, announced she was in a same-sex relationship. cue more greenhouse bulbs (plenty of heat but very little light). in this election year, plenty of advocates on both sides of what has become a deep cultural divide (even more so, i dare say, than abortion) will talk themselves blue in the face without changing a single mind. what do we do about it?
civil public discourse is a gargantuan challenge. the recent chick-fil-a hubbub made that as clear as ever. what concerns me is the many persons struggling (or not) with how to respond to their attraction in light of the gospel. i know firsthand that chicken sandwiches became, to those on a certain side of the issue, a symbol of hate rather than an emblem of first amendment freedom. i really do think that on august 1 of this year, we would have found Jesus hanging out with the hurting lgbt community, not posing with a white and red paper bag for facebook photos.
really, i’m filled with more questions than answers.
- why are certain “sins” like homosexuality considered worse than ones that Christians are far more comfortable with, say, gluttony, adultery (which certain verses would call divorce and remarriage, depending on your interpretation), or even idolatry – can we just admit we idolize Christian celebrities?
- what do we do with Christian singers, writers, artists, etc. that have (at least in the view of some) fallen? amy grant, sandi patty, michael english, ted haggard… the list gets long really fast.
- what do i do about my own sin?
but enough for the first song, eh? moving on.
all the way my Savior leads me – chris tomlin speaking of idolizing Christian celebrities… don’t get me wrong, i love chris tomlin’s music. we’ve seen him live numerous times. we could even win “two degrees of chris tomlin” in a heartbeat. we know a family on his Christmas card list, and one of rene’s former middle schoolers dated him for a while. the guy just rocks, and he’s one of the most humble men i’ve ever “met.”
but let’s face it, the all-chris-tomlin worship diet gets pretty bland. when we were visiting different churches every week, some churches literally sang nothing but songs by chris tomlin (or the broader passion group), except maybe one from hillsong just to spice things up. sometimes, though, chris and others will take an old one and dust it off. i’ll admit, when i first heard his version of this one, i immediately balked. the melody was entirely different than in rich mullins’ version! it wasn’t until i was poking around on youtube today that i realized even rich wrote his own melody for the old fanny crosby hymn.
my reflection is this: how do we treat the ancient forms, texts, and practices of our faith? it was actually in practicing the divine hours (fixed-hour daily prayers) that i was led to listen to both modern versions i own. the text itself is robustly theological. praying hymns and psalms with and without melody has been transformative. i’m just now moving into some uncharted territory in enriching my own prayer life. Christians have practiced lectio divina, centering prayer, the examen, and the Jesus prayer for centuries. my path through various tribes within evangelicalism left me largely robbed of this heritage. in many ways, i feel like i’m coming home. never before have i embraced liturgy, ritual, and ecumenicity with such an open heart.
nothing like this – rascal flatts i’m not a huge country fan. pity for me, as country stampede has brought nashville’s finest within minutes of my hometown. but these guys have made “crossover” an obsolete concept. it’s straight up mainstream pop. collaborations with everyone from justin bieber to lionel richie prove that.
i sang a song from this album my last night at watkins mill. oops, tipped my hand. the gap-year post is still in draft stage, but if you don’t know it already, i transferred in june 2011 to a new facility. more about that in a minute. when i sang “i won’t let go” to the girls, even i had to look away to keep from bawling. my message to them was that they have someone fighting for their success, and it’s not a boyfriend or compatriot in illicit activities. so many young people need adults to stand for them until they can stand for themselves.
we are the world 25 – artists for haiti tipping my hand yet again. from june to october 2011, i was a youth specialist at langsford house, a dys boys’ group home in lee’s summit, mo. after 4 interviews for teacher positions in the region, and 2 for the one at langsford house, i stepped into the teacher position for nearly 6 months. the story of the transition from then until where i am now is for another day.
with responsibility for all academic as well as elective subjects, i had an opportunity to do some real life-on-life teaching. at the top of my list was sharing my love for music in all its breadth and depth. most of the boys came in convinced that nothing outside of hip-hop (or country, or death metal) could be worth a listen. so, starting with plainchant and gregorian chant, then all the periods of classical music, on through ken burns’ jazz documentary series, and into 20th-century pop, country, rock, and folk, we explored and appreciated new music and musicians nearly every day. i learned a lot, too, as i explored enough to share with the boys.
one day i mentioned “we are the world” to blank stares. i found out they had heard of neither the original by usa for africa nor the 25 year anniversary, just in time for a crisis needing response. they loved both versions, and about every 3 or 4 weeks a new kid would have arrived that hadn’t heard it. they actually sang along! one kiddo in particular would go around the facility singing “haiti, haiti, ha-ha-ha-haiti” (pronounced eye-uh-tea). loved it!
i had a longer list ready to go, but i think this is plenty for today. parts 2, 3, and perhaps more will come soon. if you blog, or even just want to write a note on facebook, why not keep this going? shuffle on and ready… go!