Wow, it’s October. Time for yet another Monday Update, where I ramble about things in which I participated and/or was interested. You’ll listen to me and you’ll like it. It’s the “Men in Suits” edition!
David Crowder Band - My proclamations against CCM have started to backfire on me as of late. I think I’ve gotten out, but an innovative artist here, or excellent band, and a great song there pull me back in!
With all seriousness, I don’t listen to “worship” bands often; it’s weird to even think praise equals a “genre” and not an everyday state of living. That’s why DC*B works so well; their lyrics and music understand a lot of what I want to see: originality. Listen to this track from Church Music to get what I mean:
Now, that’s a song. I would say I’m not a fan of the “experiential” nature of modern worship either, but Crowder makes it seem like more than that. Music becomes a sacramental, communal ritual, not just something that works for the individual. The whole Christian community, the Church, should participate in a sort of “praise habit” every day, not just in music and song. This is, from my perspective, not the kind of music you’ll ever hear in many churches – it deserves more thought, attention, and contemplation than the standard “Jesus is my boyfriend” narrative that I’m sure anyone with experience in Christian culture sees over and over again. When the lyrics, music, and overall impression are that memorable, I find myself singing and humming to myself in a way that I haven’t for years – to contemporary worship music, of all things! As he says in his book Praise Habit:
In our encounter with Christ we, too, have been laid down, devastated by His grace. We have been covered by this same grace. We have been taken from death to life by this grace. Our identity is changed. What was before this new beginning has vanished. We have been given new clothes. We have put on Christ. We are found dressed in His rescue, redemption, and righteousness and, aware of this rescue, we spew forth praise. We wear this very rescue into our relationships, into our interactions with pals and family and work and play. It is present in our embodiment or neglections of justice, in our contentions or ignorance of the poor, of the idow, of the sick, of those in need. To wear the rescue of Christ into every moment is for every moment to become alive with the possibility of revelation. With the awareness of rescue, things unsuspected will begin to revelate redemption.
What choise is there but to respond in praise? Praise is fundamentally a responding to the initiations and imitations of God. The way of living praise sets out to find God’s revelation, to carry God’s intentions for His creation into our everday comings and goings. And this way of life should be so compelling and mysterious and other-than that people see us coming from a long way off and it stops them in their tracks and they wait and watch just to see our exchanges and wonder at this life that has been chosen and how to put it on and what is this deeper, truer way of living anyway?
The music, in this sense, is merely a complement, an aid, something to make you sing about it and remember it. Much in the same way that Christianity has always recommended oral tradition or memorization of ancient texts to continue its own rituals, music follows this same impulse. I’m not sure if Crowder’s lyrics adhere closely to the old hymn model (since much of the Church population was illiterate, hymns were a way to educate people without giving them a full classical education), but they are much more informative and based on Scripture than most. That’s always a plus in my book!
Unfortunately, the band “broke up” but by choice; hopefully, both Crowder’s new projects and The Digital Age (the rest of the band seperate from him) will continue to make the same kind of innovative music. We’ve still got six albums of great stuff, even if those fizzle out.
Ocean’s Eleven/Twelve/Thirteen – I don’t know why, but I’m a total sucker for a well-made gentleman thief trilogy. I suppose it is a sin for people to steal money from other people, regardless of whether said person stole your wife, challenged you to a game of “who’s better”, or stole your friend’s money and put him into cardiac arrest. Still, that doesn’t make these movies less entertaining! Lo and behold, there’s three of them! I have definitely seen them all before (the first installment of the remake series came out while I was still in middle school – wow, that’s a long time ago), but you get different nuances and more laughs when you’re older.
It’s not that it’s necessarily a laugh out loud experience. It’s the little things, quirky stuff like soundtrack choice, people nonchalantly jumping out windows, and a certain “style” that elevate them above a movie about likable lawbreakers. It doesn’t hurt to have a massive ensemble cast that act like an ensemble – no one is more important than anyone else, and that’s why each actor can throw such absurd phrases and situations at each other. Each of the eleven/twelve/thirteen has their own personality that comes through in relatively little screen-time, an absolute necessity for this genre. Adding to that, the plans which are devised to steal said money (or take money away) always amaze in a certain way; there’s too many details to understand, but when it all comes together you have a epiphany moment like “ooohhh, so that’s what they were doing the whole time”. When things go wrong (as they’re wont to do!), it’s exciting to see how they’ll make it out.
There’s no tension, but the soundtrack should tell you that there’s no doubt that they’ll suceed and you’ll be amazed. I’d call it a sense of pleasant bewilderment. It’s not as if anyone’s expecting massive character depth or amazing revelatory emotional experience from a heist movie, so it’s sufficient and works well. It’s too bad we probably won’t see another one, because they’re a lot of fun.
That’s it for Monday Update. I will be writing about some unique subjects this week; you’ll have to check back to find out what.