Sacred in the Secular: the Last Day… 31!

Half way through this journey, I started wondering which song I would use on the last day.  It had to be something everybody knows, something with a positive message, something secular, something sacred, something… classic.

I found it.

My friends on this, our last day (for now) finding sacred messages in secular music, I leave you with the sacred message that we are all family.

Enjoy, and keep looking for the sacred in the secular.

“We Are Family”, by Sister Sledge

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing [2x]

Everyone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
And we fly just like birds of a feather
I’m not telling no lie
All of the people around us to say
Can we be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose, yeah

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing [2x]

Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
High hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight
No we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong, oh no
This is our family Jewel, yeah

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing [4x]

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Sacred in the Secular: Day 30

Ever heard of the social gospel?

Here is a short explanation from Wikipedia:

The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the early 20th century United States and Canada. The movement applied Christian ethics to social problems, especially issues of social justice such as economic inequality, poverty, alcoholism, crime, racial tensions, slums, unclean environment, child labor, inadequate labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war.

Our song for today is a social gospel song:  “Be the Change”, by Kat Edmonson.

In her music video, different people wrote the changes they would like to see in the world on cardboard.  I would venture to say every message they wrote falls under the sacred message of the social gospel.

As you watch the video and listen to the lyrics (especially this lyric: As you sow so shall you reap), think about the changes you want to see in the world.  Also, I encourage you to think about what kind of changes God would like to see in the world.

Then, be the change you want to see.  Be the change that God is asking for.

Everywhere you look, you can write a book on what’s going on
Everyone you know has got to reap what they sow, be it right or wrong
Ghettos flood, there’s a hole up in the sky
Oil and blood, tell me why oh why
Terror struck
Look at us
This isn’t what we planned
You gotta take a stand

Don’t forget that pride always goes before the fall
And nobody is free till there’s freedom for all
As you sow so shall you reap
Be the change you want to see
Be the change you want to see

Every now and then, you’ve gotta bend to the way it is
Far it be that as it may, it’s not the way just ’cause they say it is
On TV, there’s just no reality
All I hear is “Me me me”
What they sold, I’m not buying any more
No, no, no more

Don’t forget that pride always goes before the fall
And nobody is free till there’s freedom for all
As you sow so shall you reap
Be the change you want to see
Be the change you want to see

Yesterday heard you say that there’s nothing you can do
Wonder if you would feel the same if it was happening to you

Don’t forget that pride always goes before the fall
And nobody is free till there’s freedom for all
As you sow so shall you reap
Be the change you want to see
Be the change you want to see
Right now
Be the change you want to
See the changes start with you
Be the change you want to see

Be the change you want to see
The change you want to see

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Sacred in the Secular: Day 29

Today, a love song.

A love song that we should all sing about our faith, or our relationship with the holy.

“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys.

As you listen to the song and read through the lyrics, think about all the things you seek in your life that aren’t God.  I have a long list.  LONNNGGGGGG.

So hopefully when you hear this song it can serve as a sacred reminder that God is the most important thing in our lives, and that we don’t need three dozen roses or fame or diamond rings or power or the fountain of youth… even if we want them.

Some people live for the fortune
Some people live just for the fame
Some people live for the power, yeah
Some people live just to play the game
Some people think that the physical things
Define what’s within
And I’ve been there before
But that life’s a bore
So full of the superficial

Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you baby
If I ain’t got you baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, Yeah

Some people search for a fountain
That promises forever young
Some people need three dozen roses
And that’s the only way to prove you love them
Hand me the world on a silver platter
And what good would it be
With no one to share
With no one who truly cares for me

Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you baby
If I ain’t got you baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, you, you
Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you baby
If I ain’t got you baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, yeah

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Sacred in the Secular: Day 28

I just couldn’t stay away from Katy Perry.  Maybe because her dad was a pastor, or maybe because she got her start in gospel music… She just has so much sacred stuff in her songs.

Today we listen to “Unconditionally”.

It should be no surprise that I picture Jesus/God singing this song.  The main lyric, “I will love you unconditionally”, is an incredibly important and sacred message to remember.  No matter what we do, we are loved by God.

Other favorite lines include but are not limited too…

  • “All the dirty laundry never made me blink one time”
  • “Come just as you are to me”
  • “Know that you are worthy”
  • “I’ll take your bad days with your good”
  • “Open up your heart and just let it begin”

Basically the whole song, really.

There is, however, one line in particular that makes me think a little more deeply:  “Acceptance is the key to be, to be truly free.  Will you do the same for me?”  If Jesus/God is singing this song to us, this is an interesting lyric.

God/Jesus says in order to be truly free you must accept God.  That’s something we’ve heard before: Galatians 5:13 reads “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.”

But then God/Jesus (in the song) says “Will you do the same for me?”  Do we love God unconditionally?  Do we love and accept Jesus unconditionally?  It’s an interesting question to ask ourselves.

I will let you decide the answers for yourself, and then enjoy listening to Katy Perry.

Oh no, did I get too close?
Oh, did I almost see what’s really on the inside?
All your insecurities
All the dirty laundry
Never made me blink one time

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

Come just as you are to me
Don’t need apologies
Know that you are worthy
I’ll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you, I love you

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

So open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart

Acceptance is the key to be
To be truly free
Will you do the same for me?

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
And there is no fear now
Let go and just be free
‘Cause I will love you unconditionally (oh yeah)
I will love you (unconditionally)
I will love you
I will love you unconditionally

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Sacred in the Secular: Day 27

I haven’t gone to many concerts in my life, but one person I have seen perform live is Josh Ritter.  The concert was in this quaint music hall in Madison, Wisconsin.  Everyone there was delightfully hipster-ish and drinking beer only made in Wisconsin.  It was such a singer/song writer concert, and I was skeptical over whether I would enjoy myself or not.

But I did.  Ritter’s music performed live is incredibly powerful and infectious.

The thing that really got me hooked on his music, however, was that each and every song had a statement.  Ritter uses more words in his songs than many musicians do, and he is not shy about writing strong pieces.

Obviously, I had to have a song by Ritter on my blog this month.  The possibilities are endless, but I thought this song would be a nice introduction to Ritter if you haven’t heard of him.

“Lantern”, by Josh Ritter.

SO:  Where is the sacred in this song?  Lanterns.  Light.  Light of God.  God be my lantern.  It’s too easy.

But, further into the song, Ritter makes things more complicated: “Tell me what’s the point of light that you have to strike a match to find?”

He then goes on to imply something along the lines of ‘forget about God we will be each other’s light’ (my paraphrase).  I get this interpretation from the lyrics: “So throw away those lamentations, we both know them all too well.  If there’s a book of Jubilations, we’ll have to write it for ourselves.”

Ok.  I understand that struggle.  It’s one I hear about almost every day.

But if I had a five minute talk with Josh Ritter about this song, I would say:  Look Josh, holding lanterns for each other and helping each other… That IS God.  That IS the answer to some of those unanswerable questions, and God is working through you to be the light to other people.  It’s also great that you are asking other people to help you, and recognizing that you need some light in your life.

So there is the sacred.  God working through us and others to be the light in our lanterns even in the darkest of nights.

This is good news.

Be the light of my lantern, the light of my lantern, be the light
Be the light of my lantern, the light of my lantern, tonight
Be the light of my lantern, the light of my lantern, be the light
I need light in my lantern, light in my lantern, tonight

It’s a hungry world out there
Even the wind will take a bite
I can feel the world circling
Sniffing round me in the night
And the lost sheep grow teeth
Forsake the lambs and lie with the lions

And the living is desperate
Precarious and mean
And getting by is so hard
That even the rocks are picked clean
And the bones of small contention
Are the only food the hungry find

I’ll need light for my lantern, light for my lantern tonight
Light in my lantern, light in my lantern tonight

Where the thistles eat the thorns
And the roses have no chance
And it ain’t no wonder that the babies
Come out crying in advance
And the children look for shelter
In the hollow of some lonesome cheek

And the sky’s so cold and clear
The stars might stick you where you stand
And you’re only glad it’s dark ’cause
You might see the master’s hand
You might cast around forever
And never find the peace you seek

I need light for my lantern, light for my lantern tonight
Be the light in my lantern, the light of my lantern tonight

For every cry in the night
Somebody says, “Have faith!”
“Be content inside your questions”
“Minotaurs inside a maze”
Tell me what’s the point of light
That you have to strike a match to find?

So throw away those lamentations
We both know them all too well
If there’s a book of Jubilations
We’ll have to write it for ourselves
So come and lie beside me darling
And let’s write it while we still got time

So if you got a light, hold it high for me
I need it bad tonight, hold it high for me
Cause I’m face to face, hold it high for me
In that lonesome place, hold it high for me
With all the hurt that I’ve done, hold it high for me
That can’t be undone, hold it high for me
Light and guide me through, hold it high for me
I’ll do the same for you, hold it high for me

I’ll hold it high for you, ’cause I know you’ve got
I’ll hold it high for you, your own valley to walk
I’ll hold it high for you, though it’s dark as death
I’ll hold it high for you, and then gets darker yet
I’ll hold it high for you, though your path seems lost
I’ll hold it high for you, through the thieves and rocks
I’ll hold it high for you, keep you safe from harm
I’ll hold it high for you, until you’re back in my arms

Be the light of my lantern, the light of my lantern, tonight
Be the light of my lantern, the light of my lantern, tonight
Be the light of my lantern, the light of my lantern, tonight
Be the light of my lantern, the light of my lantern, tonight

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Sacred in the Secular: Day 26

If you listen to pop music, you knew this song was coming.

“Born This Way”, by Lagy Gaga.

If you have never listened to Lady Gaga’s music, let me be the first to say she sings about her faith in many of her songs.  That being said, I had never seen the music video for this particular song until today.  Whoa.  Go here if you want to watch 7 minutes of… aliens/zombies/sexualized dancing/very interesting piece of art work that is mostly above my head.

Even with a crazy and slightly confusing video (but do we really expect anything else from Lady Gaga?), this song has a wonderful (and wonderfully clear) message:  God creates each of us and makes no mistakes.  

The best lyric comes right from the chorus:  “I’m beautiful in my way, ‘Cause God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.”  She goes on to list all types of people and says they are all born this way and created by God.  The message that we are all beloved children of God is one of my favorite sacred messages of our faith.

Another great line is (supposedly) an old Italian saying:  “Mi amore vole fe”, which roughly translates to “Love needs faith”.  [Maybe it's a saying Lady Gaga's family uses, as they are Italian.  Lady Gaga's real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.]

‘Love needs faith’ is an interesting idea.  I’m still musing on that thought so you will have to look for more on that another day…

The video below is just lyrics and the music, so you can read along as you listen.  Enjoy, and know that God made you perfectly.

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Sacred in the Secular: Day 25

After spending the last couple of days in decades past, we jump back to 2014, and to OneRepublic.

(Yes they are artsy and do not have a space in their band name.)

OneRepublic has several hit songs out on the radio these days, but the song “Counting Stars” caught my attention in the car one day.  Again, I’m a nerd and so as I heard the phrase “counting stars” repeated several times, I thought of Abraham’s covenant with God.

Turns out, the more you compare the lyrics with Abraham’s story the more they have in common.  Seriously.

This is just a little clip of Abraham’s story, but Genesis 15: 1-6 reads:

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

(Don’t forget Abram and Abraham are the same person.)

You guys, it’s like this song was written by Abraham himself.

  • Abraham would have spent his life dreaming of a family, and the things they could have been. Corresponding lyric: “Lately I been, I been losing sleep, dreaming about the things that we could be”
  • Abraham was sad that he had no kids.  It was life, and he had none.  But, he sees God in a vision.  Corresponding lyric:  “I see this life like a swinging vine, swing my heart across the line.  In my face is flashing signs, seek it out and ye shall find”
  • Abraham has faith, and so he trusts in God and heads out on a journey into a land he’s never heard of, which would have been considered a ludicrous idea at the time.  Corresponding lyric: “I feel something so right by doing the wrong thing”
  • Genesis 21:5 says Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born.  Corresponding lyric:  “Old, but I’m not that old, Young, but I’m not that bold”
  • God’s promise to Abraham is to look to the heavens and count the stars… so shall your descendants be.  Corresponding lyric: “But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard, said no more counting dollars, we’ll be counting stars”
  • The journey that God calls Abraham to is not always an easy one and there are bumps along the way.  But Abraham hangs in there… Corresponding lyric:  “I feel the love and I feel it burn, down this river every turn, hope is our four letter word”

FOR REAL DID ABRAHAM WRITE THIS SONG?!

No.

But still.  There is a ton of sacred in this secular song.

Enjoy listening, and enjoy picturing a modern Abraham.  Also, enjoy what I presume to be a charismatic preacher in the video making people dance.

 

Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

I see this life
Like a swinging vine
Swing my heart across the line
In my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and ye shall find

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told

I feel something so right
By doing the wrong thing
And I feel something so wrong
By doing the right thing
I couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be, we’ll be counting stars

I feel the love
And I feel it burn
Down this river every turn
Hope is our four letter word
Make that money
Watch it burn

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told

And I feel something so wrong
By doing the right thing
I couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie
Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly

Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be, we’ll be counting stars

Oh, oh, oh.

Take that money
Watch it burn
Sink in the river
The lessons I learned  [4x]

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be, we’ll be counting stars

Take that money
Watch it burn
Sink in the river
The lessons I learned [4x]

 

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