My modest little podcast Cephas Hour, featuring the best of Christian rock and pop from then and now, has been having something of a back to the future vibe the past couple of shows. I’ve been interspersing some commentary in-between music sets, much like I was doing with the show before it became a podcast-only program.
As an experiment, I’ve posted below the show’s commentary sections, each followed by a video of the first song played after each spoken word segment. You can listen to the entire show on demand at its website, or subscribe to the podcast via Apple, Google, or iHeart.
It’s interesting; the tangents people go off on. Be it religion or politics or pop culture or what have you; there does seem to be a high-level intent toward doing or saying anything that avoids ourselves, even as we live in a culture where self-glorification is the standard operational procedure.
I once heard a wise pastor talk about how it is simultaneously interesting and not surprising that out of all the sciences, the last two to emerge were first anthropology, a study of people yet impersonal and at arm’s length, and only then psychology, the study of self. Some look at themselves and think, “I am all I need.” Others look at themselves and think, “I am nothing that is needed.” Neither of these is true, yet they persist.
The truth is, we can have proper dreams and goals and a realistic view of self without either self-worship or self-destruction, although to be complete in the thought, self-worship and self-destruction go hand in hand. We can see ourselves in the light of God’s love for us. We can enjoy life, at least sometimes. And while we know this life will one day end, a new life awaits.
There’s been a lot of chatter lately regarding society’s increasing coarseness in interpersonal communication. The blame usually falls on social media and its enablement for at least semi-anonymous vile bile belching. Cyberspace flame boys and girls say things to each other online they would never dare say in person. They know doing so would ensure an immediate need for emergency dental work.
That said, the same disease permeates an alarmingly large portion of believers. They sit on imaginary thrones and pass judgment on other believers, never once following the Scriptural directives on the correct handling of disputes within the body of believers. Christ minced no words when He said, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.” Not a lot of wiggle room in that now is there?
As I record this, a few days ago, songwriter Diane Warren wondered aloud via social media how one of the songs on Beyoncé’s most recent album could have 24 co-writers. Now, Warren has an almost ridiculous list of accomplishments. Warren has written nine number-one songs and 32 top-10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. She has won a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, three consecutive Billboard Music Awards for Songwriter of the Year, been nominated for thirteen Academy Awards, and this November, will be given an honorary Oscar. She has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Excellent resume, what say?
Warren, who by her admission is something of a monastic odd duck, was unaware songwriting credits are at least occasionally provided for those who wrote songs subsequently recorded, from said recording samples lifted and placed into another recording. This used to be called plagiarism. It is now called sampling. Amazingly enough, this is considered an art form. It’s as creative as lip-syncing, but don’t tell that to the pop culture droolbags slobbering over their artist of choice in hopes that … um, they’ll gain recognition and validation by self-appointed association?
Back to our story. The accusations came fast and furious that Warren was somehow “disrespecting black culture” for wondering aloud how one song could have 24 co-writers. Actually, when one looks at the contributions by black artists over the past century plus, including but in no way limited to such giants as Scott Joplin, Robert Johnson, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, and many more, the only disrespect shown to black culture is equating Beyoncé’s formulaic overhyped cash register pop to anything bearing the slightest resemblance to art.
The delusion of success equaling something of value enters the picture. Popularity does not measure talent. Grand Funk Railroad sold out Shea Stadium faster than The Beatles. Where are the two bands now in regard to each other? And before anyone says anything, I like Grand Funk Railroad. A lot. But they’re not The Beatles.
Today’s pop culture high flyers are tomorrow’s hanger-ons — if that much. Today’s entertainment giants are tomorrow’s county fair fodder sandwiched between corn dogs and carnival rides. Illusions and delusions of grandeur crumble into dust when faced with God’s droll reminder that He remembers we are only dust. Sycophants on Twitter do not equal treasures in Heaven. Seek what matters. Find your identity as a child and the creation of God reunited with Him through faith in Christ. In the end, nothing will remain of us on this planet. But love, love from a loving Savior and shared freely among each other … that will remain. Always.