Tuesday, July 24, 2007

~ contextual analysis ~

Listening to iTunes in the morning makes getting to work on time difficult. I hear a phrase, which reminds me of an event, or makes me ask a question, and then my mind is traipsing off down some rabbit trail that may or may not end up forming a coherently written story.

Often, that story remains in my head and eventually gets emptied with the other deleted items. Sometimes it resurfaces down the road, but in a different format, only vaguely resembling my original thoughts. Occasionally, I have the good sense to grab on to the plethora of scrap papers lying around my room and jot down a few road markers so that the train of thought can be reformed at a more opportune time.

This morning the song that caused my tardiness was a live version of I Saw the Light by David Crowder Band and Robbie Seay. I had barely dipped a toe into the chorus before I drew back startled.

Hank Williams killed himself.

Ok, maybe not intentionally, but Hank Williams overdosed at the age of 29 after a hard life of broken relationships and repetitive struggles.

Context.

I saw the light, I saw the light
No more darkness, No more night
Now I'm so happy, No sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light


Set apart from its back story, these lyrics could be daunting to an average human wandering aimlessly in a life filled with sin. Worse yet, what about those who have traded the wrong for the right, and still have days where they don’t have this feeling of wonderment? The lyrics standing alone would leave big shoes to fill.

Context.

But this song was not written by a saint. It was written by a human, whose last recorded single was “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”, and who was in the process of writing a song titled “Then Came that Fateful Day” when he died.

Context.

Out of context, it is a weighty song to compare one’s life against. In context, it’s a song of hope. It’s a song about the lofty desires of a tragic life.

I believe that some days Hank Williams was able to sing this song, and mean it – moments of clarity. Other days, he must have wondered, “where the hell did that song come from?” as he downed a bottle of whiskey.

In the same vein, David fluctuated between his Psalms of praise and Psalms of despair. And he really fucked up his life. Luckily, He served (we serve) a redemptive God. A God who longs to receive our praise (though, in truth He does not need it) and yet is willing to hear our cries, our longings and our asinine questions.

Paul was human. He had some very good things to say about himself, and God entrusted him with some big tasks which he willingly took on, but he was human.

And we the readers, the interpreters, are human. Are we not hypocrites to announce from a pulpit that THE WORD OF GOD SAYS women should not be permitted to preach, and yet not require them to keep their heads covered?

What does inerrancy really mean?

Does it mean Paul lived a life free of context? That every word of the epistles can be taken at face value?

Or is there room for looking at the big picture? Can we step back and look not only at what was being said, but when it was being said and where it was being said and why it was being said and to whom it was being said? Why is this even a controversial issue?

Can we trust God to speak through the context of His Word?

Whiskey Bottle

Uncle Tupelo

Persuaded, paraded, enebriated, in doubt
Still aware of everything life carries on without
'Cause there's one too many faces with dollar sign smiles
Got to find the shortest path to the bar for a while

A long way from happiness
In a three-hour-away town
Whiskey bottle over Jesus
Not forever, just for now

There's trouble around, it's never far away
The same trouble's been around for a life and a day
I can't forget the sound, 'cause it's here to stay
The sound of people chasing money and money getting away

In between the dirt and disgust there must be
Some air to breathe and something to believe
Liquor and guns the sign says quite plain
Somehow life goes on in a place so insane

1 comment:

Myles said...

man, i love that song.