Monday, May 09, 2011

Music today . . .

More and more, I find myself getting "fed up" with the so-called "worship" songs we are asked to sing at church. Apparently, I'm not alone. At least not in my extended family. I try to remain silent about my own thoughts and feelings. But, it seems, almost every Sunday someone says something about the music . . . how this, that, or the next thing bugs them.

Yesterday was no different.

Except that Sarita brought our attention to a short article in The Week's "Health & Science" section. It matched something someone had just noted: How worship songs ("hymns"), in general, used to be relatively theologically deep and focused on God. Indeed, I remember how I used to comment about the almost third-person nature of so much of the music: not focused on "You"--"Oh, LORD, You . . .," but, rather, "He," "The Lord, He . . ." --"Lifted up was He to die . . .," etc.

When our family shifted over to a more charismatic/pentecostal church, the music became a bit more, if I may suggest it here, "interpersonal": "Lord, You are . . .," "I love You, Lord . . .," etc.

But at this point, strangely, the focus has shifted more and more, it seems, away from God and toward the members of the congregation, indeed, not to "us," even, but to "me," "my" and "I."

Indeed, it struck me last week as we were singing Michael W. Smith's I'm Coming Back to the Heart of Worship (It's All about You) how, strangely, by the way the "worship leader" kept repeating one part of a single line, instead of being reminded about how much "it" really is supposed to be all about Jesus, about God, the song became a paean of praise for each one of us because "I'm coming back . . . I'm coming back . . . I'm coming back . . . yes, I'm coming back . . .," etc.

But back to the article to which Sarita directed our attention:
A generation’s favorite tune: ‘I’m So Vain’
Young people “love themselves more today than ever before,” says University of Kentucky psychologist Nathan DeWall, and the proof is in their music.

He and his colleagues analyzed the lyrics of Billboard Hot 100 songs from the past three decades and found a steady increase in self-centeredness and hostility toward others.

“In the early ’80s lyrics, love was easy and positive, and about two people,” study co-author Jean Twenge tells The New York Times. “The recent songs are about what the individual wants, and how she or he has been disappointed or wronged.”

The study found a marked increase in the prevalence of the words “I” and “me” in song lyrics, and fewer instances of “we” and “us.” It also registered a jump in angry lyrics about hating and killing, and a drop in songs containing positive words like “love” or “sweet.”

The researchers suggest that rampant narcissism may be making it harder for people to connect with one another. They point to other surveys that show that more people are apt to feel sad and lonely now than in previous decades.

Same narcissism making it harder for people to connect with God, too?
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