religion

Christian Rock and Self-Loathing

Yesterday, I was listening to a cross-section of radio.

I must have come across the religious band on the FM dial, because I first heard a Christian rock song then a sermon.

The sermon was interesting enough, actually. The priest was going into David’s understanding of a God that is omnipresent and omniscient. I personally felt that everything he was saying can be simply derived from God being the spirit of the universe. David felt that the fact that God knew him was a marvelous thing, but if God is the totality of the cosmos, then God knowing us is like us knowing our finger. We may love our finger, we may know it intimately, but that doesn’t sound that impressive put that way. David also felt that the fact that God was in Heaven, Earth and Sheol was an amazing one, but again, if God is the entirety of the cosmos, there’s no darkness nor light that It isn’t part of.

However, what bothered me far more was the Christian rock.

It’s not just that it’s banal, and trite, and generally Nickelback-level rock in terms of having any complexity or voice. (And to be clear: I actually enjoy several Nickelback songs, but I won’t pretend that they are lyrical or musical geniuses).

It’s the trend in Christian rock to have phrases like the following (I am not quoting from any songs in particular because actually looking up Christian rock lyrics is cognate to stabbing myself in the frontal lobe with a salad fork):

“Lift me up when I fall”.

“I am weak without your aid”.

There’s a narrative of weakness in Christianity, especially in white evangelical Christianity. Far from talking about the lions of the faithful who fight for justice the way that black Christianity often does, this is a narrative of worthlessness.

And I know that, as sincere as those songs may sometimes be, they’re not really being driven by the divine spirit, but by something far more mundane and banal: Self-loathing.

See, if you really let something or someone love you, it changes you. It elevates you. You know that they’d want you to be happy and proud, so you are, even if it just because of their influence.

If Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit love mankind, what does that mean?

It means They would want us to be proud and at our endeavors.

It means They would want us to see the good in ourselves and build it.

And that explains to me why so many people are so determined to insist that God will touch them directly and fill them with something great.

Those people don’t know love. They don’t know truly what it is to be loved and to love others.

When we love someone, we want to slap someone talking shit about them. We hate when the people we love castigate themselves, kick themselves in humiliation. We want the best for them.

But here’s a secret, and I know it might be hard to hear:

God can’t make you love if you don’t know what love is.

There’s a lot of miracles out there. Even I as a Buddhist and as a person who believes in a non-interventionist God see miracles everywhere, just as Dr. Manhattan saw the miracle that was life.

But there’s no miracle that will let someone whose heart is clouded by self-hatred begin to love. They have to get there on their own, doing the hard work.

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