what do I stand for?

 

We love anthems, we do.

We love songs we can proclaim from rooftops with passion from our gut.

We love an anthem that rallies us around something, puts fire in our bellies, and stretches our vocal chords.

We love an anthem even when it proclaims confusion.

The song, “Some Nights” by fun could not be a truer picture of this time in history and could not have a more enticing, layered melody – a mighty furious, beautiful mess building our Babel.

In the music video, haphazard opposing forces roam while directionless firepower flies and the band pounds out their decidedly lost melody.

The song is certainly saying something.
Even as the chorus rumbles with heavy questions, we are drawn in to sing that something right along with them,

“Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know anymore…
Oh woah, oh woah, oh woah oh oh
Oh woah, oh woah, oh woah oh oh”

Some nights … most nights … I don’t know … luck … wish … who am I?

These are words that describe a generation, words that build the walls of our own Babylon. We have exiled ourselves from meaning and certainty and hope.

And then we made it an anthem.
This is the music of waywardness.

Our art reflects our hearts and in the mirror we see a despairing image. Makoto Fujimura, artist, writer, and speaker, says, “We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.”

When the music of waywardness becomes the anthem of a generation, one must consider if the straining vocal chords declare a superlative-worthy message or if best is reserved for something absolutely certain.

 

lost in translation

"Luke", mixed media on canvas (Makoto Fujimura)

As I sat listening to Nancy Pearcey, my pen wavered, scribbled, wavered, and surrendered. Her masterful articulation put my pen strokes to shame. I won’t try to summarize or capture her description of Francis Schaeffer‘s two story dichotomy in our society today. For that, I will wait to dive into the pages of Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning.

For now, I want to mention one thought: lost in translation.

When Pearcey was asked, “How can we bring this message to our culture today – what do we do practically to get this message out?” at the end of her seminar, she lamented a dreadful linguistic loss. She sighed, “Well, we talk about it.”

Sadly, it’s hard to find words and harder to find conversants. As we rush into “progress” and grow out of our too-small, sacred shoes, the Gospel gets lost in translation. As Makoto Fujimura, prominent NYC artist, describes it,

“We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.”

Tonight, I watched the film 50/50 with some friends. I was struck by all the ways language broke down around the main character diagnosed with cancer.
His friend fails to communicate love as he follows the haphazard advice of a book.
His girlfriend can’t find words to describe her guilt.
His therapist can only speak textbook and theory.
His father speaks the language of forget and his mother, worry.
And he, the main character, tries hard to speak no language at all.

Today, we have all sorts of language to walk people out to the ledge, but (in all our progress) we struggle to give a living translation of the Gospel in a way that brings people to the only safe Refuge.

God designed us for relationship – a right relationship with Him and Creation. So far, we’ve used great word wizardry to narrate – even glorify – the ways these relationships are wrong. We flood the cinemas with the drama and doom of this language. We overwhelm bookshelves with this unsettling lexicon.

So where is the Gospel in the language of this culture?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

beautiful things

Makoto Fujimura at FFM 2009
Image by jystewart via Flickr

So many beautiful things have happened today and it’s not even 8:45 am!

Here are the two link-related ones:

First, I discovered this last night and I could watch it a million times. Art+Truth=BEAUTIFUL. Here is a description from the Crossway website about this amazing project:

Makoto Fujimura, one of the century’s most highly regarded artists, has illuminated the Four Holy Gospels. Fujimura is known for his use of traditional Japanese Nihonga techniques and his passion for reconnecting Christian faith with fine art. This will mark the first time in nearly 400 years that an illuminated book of the four Gospels has been undertaken by a single artist.

Check it out HERE! Watch the video here!

Second, this morning I read Andrée Seu’s article on weakness and I’m tempted to let out a hearty AMEN right here in my office chair. We make so many excuses for ourselves and then try to justify our whimsies and failures with Scripture. It’s like we’ve resigned to the idea that “we are sinners, so of course we’re going to be weak and fail.” I could say so much more on this, but Andrée says it so well!

Here’s her last paragraph:

It is time to stop re-infecting ourselves with bad theology. If someone wants to keep repeating that we Christians are “weak,” please let him always clarify the statement with the adjectives “physically” or “psychologically.” Say that we are tired, and weary, and perplexed. But let’s lose the morbid and counterproductive self-image of the Christian as “Sinner” and (morally) “weak.” Paul gives instructions for self-image, as he does for other areas of Christian life: “You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ” (Romans 6:11).

Hope you are encouraged today by these two beautiful things!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy