Part of deconstructing your former religion is processing all these things that you believed with all your heart and mind. It’s quite a strange thing to look at your past self and realize not only is that former person not you but also, more strangely, that the past person is you still. How can one be truly themselves without their former thoughts influencing the present self? It’s a paradox.
I have a complicated relationship with the music of my formerly favorite Christian artist, Sara Groves. There is a beautiful vulnerability and longing for growth in her music that often transcends her fundamentalist beliefs. This touches my heart. At the same time, her music many times reinforced many harmful beliefs I had: primarily submission to the Christian god and inability to be truly good or have a good life without this god.
Music cuts straight to the heart and emotions and bypasses reason. I think this is why in my former religion it was required to often surround yourself with praise and worship music and contemporary Christian music because the alternative was secular music, which would tempt you away from Christ and to the “world.” By listening to only Christian music you subconsciously reinforcing certain ideas and feelings that reinforce Christian beliefs.
Not all Christian beliefs are harmful, such as taking care of those who are down on their luck and need assistance, such as orphans or widows. Many culture Christians or non-religious point to Jesus’ teaches as examples of how we should live, but I find most of what he allegedly said problematic. That is likely to be a whole other post.
Many of the non-harmful believes in Christianity can be found in other religious traditions, so why must one be a Christian to let them guide your life? And what is often overlooked is that these beneficial beliefs are often aligned more with those secular in nature, such as humanism. One does not need to be a Christian to be a decent and moral person.
In this post and upcoming posts I’m going to analyze Sara Grove’s music that I formerly identified very strong with. Many of these songs brings me much sadness that I, or any other person, and especially women who are meant by the religion to be submissive, are meant to hold. When you realize there is so much more joy and peace out there that these messages hold.
As I analyze a few of her songs in this and future posts you’ll see a YouTube video with the song I’m discussing, but you may not have the time or interest to listen, or it may be triggering so you can just skip to the lyrics below. My comments to the lyrics will be below and in color. In this case blue.
I’ve done every devotional
Been every place emotional
Trying to hear a new word from God
And I think it’s very odd,
That while I attempt to help myself
My Bible sits upon my shelf
With every promise
I could ever need
She is seeking help and answers to her problems and is not finding the answers. She is praying and doing devotionals and still isn’t hearing from God for direction and fulfillment for her, and possibly others’, needs. I could relate to this because I did the same thing. There is this belief that if you don’t hear from God it’s because you must be doing something wrong, not that God simply doesn’t exist. So she explains this by noticing that she is not spending as much time reading her Bible as she should.
This is a mistake because the Bible contains a lot of horrific examples to follow. Additionally, if the Bible provided all that one needed in terms of direction for one’s life then there wouldn’t be so much confusion. The Bible is contradictory and confusing.
And the Word was
And the Word is
And the Word will be
The old Word is the new Word is
The old Word is the new Word is
What always confused me as a Christian and still doesn’t make much sense that both the Bible and Jesus are both referred to as “the Word,” at least in my faith tradition. I’m sure my brain found a way to reconcile this theologically but at present it is baffling.
Additionally, I’m not sure how one could logically make the argument that the “old Word” and “the new Word” are one and the same and is consistent throughout time.
People are getting fit for Truth
Like they’re buying a new tailored suit
Does it fit across the shoulders
Does it fade when it gets older
We throw ideas that aren’t in style
In the Salvation Army pile
And search for something more to meet our needs
Sure, one should not discard truth because they don’t like it. I mean, we as humans do it all the time, but Christians cannot see the hypocrisy in these verses. The spirit of these lyrics is that we shouldn’t look elsewhere from God for what we need. If God doesn’t meets someone’s needs (of course this won’t happen because God doesn’t exist) then it is right for that person to begin to look elsewhere for help. To reinforce the message that seeking help and direction outside of God is foolish and even sinful is to perpetuate gaslighting and abuse.
These next verses feels like a passionate frenetic attempt to cram all the important verses that a Christian needs in order to not rely on themselves for answers. This attempt seems to be a response to a feeling of doubt and helplessness.
I have included what verses I believe she is referencing. I had, after all, memorized and referenced them all in my former Christian life.
I think it’s time I rediscover
All the ground that I have covered, like
Seek Ye first (Matthew 6:33), what a verse
We are pressed but not crushed,
Perplexed but don’t despair.
We are persecuted but not abandoned (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
We are no longer slaves
We are daughters and sons, (Galations 4:7)
And when we are weak
We are very strong (multiple verses in 1st and 2nd Corinthians, this is a common theme in those books, that weakness is actually a strength)
And neither death nor life
Nor present nor future
Nor depth nor height
Can keep us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35)
This is flat-out false. If nothing could keep me from the “love of Christ” wouldn’t I still be a Christian? Of course there are contradictory messages in the Bible (and a huge theological debate) on whether one can lose their salvation. This now seems like a useless and futile waste of time to me, considering that I lost my faith despite my best efforts and desires and is little use of how to proceed forward in my life.
If the search for truth leads one away from Christianity, and Christianity is supposedly the only “Way,” then what does this mean for the person who, despite their best efforts, and often at a huge social and psychological cost, no longer believes? From a Christian perspective I’d be considered “lost.” The arrogance in this perspective is astounding, an arrogance that those who do not believe are accused of having. Isn’t it more mature to assume you could be wrong and others could be right?
And the Word I need
Is the Word that was
Who put on flesh to dwell with us.
In the beginning (John 1:14)
In this song it is obvious that Sara Groves is heavily influenced by the apostle Paul, given that she references many verses from books that Paul allegedly wrote (I will need to look further into the evidence of the origins of these writings as I continue to deconstruct my former religion). I also was a Pauline Christian and, in fact, memorized whole chapters in many of the books that Paul wrote to these various churches.
I am going to do a series of posts, which may or may not follow in succession depending on what comes up (I am a undisciplined and spontaneous blogger and I’ll hope one can accept this from me and still enjoy my blog.)
I’d love to hear from you about your experience with Christian music, and it’s influence on your thoughts and beliefs. Please share.
As always: thanks for reading, my friends.