Musical Odyssey (Pt. 4 - A Detour)
I forgot one of my key discoveries on the journey. Much of what I've shared thus far is pretty mellow musically, which doesn't speak to the need to rock! that infuses my soul. Again, Paste Magazine turned me onto Derek Webb as well. I need to traverse a little sidebar here to point out that Paste is not a "Christian" magazine. They review art (music, books, film, tv, video games) across the board, and the same issue that would cover Sufjan Stevens might also have an article on the notoriously atheistic and seminal punk band Bad Religion. The difference is that aesthetics, not hipsterism, rules at Paste. So Sufjan or Over the Rhine or Derek Webb aren't caste aside because of their spiritual-tinging.
Derek Webb is an on-again/off-again singer with a Christian contemporary band called Caedmon's Call. His most solo recent album, The Ringing Bell, was recorded in the midst of the Iraq War. In it, I heard echoes of the growing group of evangelicals who are tired of having their theology and worldview hijacked and limited to issues of personal piety while calls for justice, mercy, and peace are ignored. Webb's song "Love Stronger Than Our Fear" speaks pretty blunty to that:
"What would you do if someone would tell you the truth, but only if you tortured them half to death? Tell me: since when do the ends justify the means, and you build the kingdom using the devil's tools? There's got to be a love stronger than our fear..."
The song that closes the album, "This Too Shall Be Made Right," is a solo acoustic piece with a fierce indictment of the horrors of life in their breadth, acknowledging genocide, hunger, war, etc. In the final verse the outward indictment turns sharply inward:
"I don't know the suffering of people outside my front door. I join the oppressors of those I choose to ignore. I've traded in comfort for human life, and that's not just murder. It's suicide."
And yet, each of these indictments ends with this gnawing, yearning, unfulfilled hope: "This, too, shall be made right." Amen. Amen.
I've tried to find videos on youtube to embed here, but there ain't. That being said, there a couple of other places to hear these songs (as well as other Derek Webb stuff):