March 31, 2008

The Kids’ Music
by Pastor George Van Alstine

When my granddaughter Tianna (age 14) gets into my car, she immediately reaches over to change the radio dial. I’m pretty permissive about this, because I want to learn about the kids’ world from the inside, and their music is the inside.

Tianna knows I’m listening to the lyrics, because I concentrate on them and then sing along the next time a particular song comes on. This used to drive her crazy, but now she thinks it’s kinda cute. Sometimes I add my own twist; for the ballad lyric, “I hate that I love you so much,â€? my version is, “I love that I hate you so much.â€? It changes the mood a bit.

Once in a while, Tianna will know that a particular sleazy line is coming up, and she’ll say, “Papa, close your ears, you’re too young to hear this.â€? Of course, I listen more closely. I’ve been surprised to find out that the radio stations bleep out the most offensive words which the audience would hear in a live concert. Still, there’s enough suggestive material to justify the concerns that are often expressed by critics of this musical genre. This could be the subject of another article.

But there’s also much that is positive in these lyrics. First, there is some good poetry. Some of the young artists really know how to turn a phrase. The lines are often memorable and easily quoted. Second, there is much genuine wisdom, moral teaching and good advice in these lyrics. Adults have to listen for a while and get by their discomfort with the musical style, but if they do, they’ll find a culture in which young people are searching for meaning in their lives in pretty constructive ways.

Here are a couple of lines I heard this morning in a ballad about a strained love relationship:
“It’s okay to lose your pride over someone you love,
But don’t lose someone you love over pride.â€?

That’s really wise advice. Many of us in the middle years of our marriages still need to hear this message. We let our pride bring down a potentially salvageable relationship, and we could take a step toward healing by swallowing a little of that pride. The young man singing the lyric says, “It’s okay to lose your pride for someone you love.â€? He’s saying this to other young people who fear that if they look weak they’ll lose everything. Not necessarily, says the song. Sometimes you win by losing.

Of course, as a minister, I couldn’t help but notice a profound spiritual analogy in those lyrics. I thought of how applicable this is to our relationship with God:
“It’s okay to lose your pride over someone you love,
But don’t lose someone you love over pride.â€?

God lost his “pride,â€? his majesty, his glory, when he entered human flesh as Jesus. And in order to accept the salvation he offers, we have to lose our pride and acknowledge that we are sinners in need of forgiveness. Some people have missed the opportunity to enter a loving relationship with God over pride they just can’t let go of. How sad!