Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why deny it when the picture's clear,
World in decline and the time is near,
It gets closer with every year,
When are You gonna come and get me outta here?

Those were the opening lyrics to a song I wrote when I was in my 20's. I was parroting the fundamentalist Evangelical eschatology that I had imbibed via books, sermons and Christian radio. My desire upon becoming a Christian was to follow Jesus, but I was given a whole set of doctrinal baggage that only later I learned was extraneous. The way I viewed the world was reshaped, and not in a good way: I was told that everying is fallen, corrupted, failed and sure to get worse. The only hope, they said, is to be rescued, raptured, airlifted out by God and leave this cesspool of a world behind (along with the vast and unfortunate majority of humankind who didn't know Jesus). As the lyrics to my song indicate, I passed along what I had been taught.

Only much later did I learn that doctrines such as "the fall" and "original sin" and "total depravity" originated from the dualistic Greco-Roman philosophies embraced by early Christian theologians such as Augustine, and that the "end times" theology which shaped our expectations was actually a 19th century invention.

The Christian rock band I was in which played that song, also played a song written by another band-member, which had these lovely lyrics:

Foolish hearts,
Foolish blackened hearts,
Are destined to die. 

It makes me sad now to think that I spent decades under the influence of such a jaundiced and cynical and life-denying worldview. I'm still recovering from it---learning to trust that both God and God's creation are inherently and unfailingly good. It is sort of like that film Pleasantville where the townspeople begin to see in color when previously everything was in black and white. I have watched many of my peers who have remained in that system of thought grow increasingly dark and angry and bitter as the years go by.

So, I'm a very mediocre lyricist, but if I took a crack--30 years later--at revising my song, it might go something like this:

Life is a gift, that much is clear,
God is good, no need to fear,
Our time is now, our place is here,
We are grateful and God is ever-near.



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