Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A lyric

"Love, it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free to be more like the man you were made to be." - Mumford & Sons (Sigh No More)

I am utterly bewildered that a man of only 21 years could consider love with such maturity. That's about how old Marcus Mumford was when Mumford & Sons recorded Sigh No More. I'm assuming he wrote it. I'm just amazed at his perspective.

Of course, it's not the most graceful sentence, and I believe he is referring more specifically to a love of God, not a woman. Most of his songs have a strong Christian message, but if you listen carefully, those messages are often simply lessons in faith, not flagrant evangelization, and I believe those messages describe characteristics that I've seen in truly great men. So, for me, the love he speaks of in this song is any kind of love. He's speaking to the hesitancy or even fear that we feel when we deal with commitment and devotion.

I think one of the biggest dilemmas we must deal with in a post-religious, heterarchical age is how to retain and cultivate the advantages of religion. There are very strong, distinct benefits that come from having faith, and history has shown that people with strong faith are able to overcome devastating challenges where people who are not imbued with such faith cannot.

I just remembered a dream I had in college, and it might explain some of this. I was a boy back in summer camp. We were in the main building eating dinner, and every kid was seated at one of many banquet tables, digging into mashed potatoes and whatever else. The echoes of a hundred boys' and girls' voices bounced off of the shiny concrete floor. I looked up and saw two boys seated with their heads down, quietly saying grace. They were brothers and I didn't know them, but they looked a bit larger than everyone else and more neatly dressed. They even looked majestic there, although they made no effort to attract attention to themselves. Their presence was just that strong. I was astonished by their unashamed devotion, and I wanted to be just like them.

See, everyone at those tables knew that you should say grace before you start eating, but nobody wanted to be so uncool as to say grace when there were no adults around to mandate it. But those two strangers didn't look uncool at all. Instead they projected quality and strength. They were simply doing this thing because it was right.

That dream doesn't actually relate directly to the faith thing, but I'm talking about the kind of character I think could get lost in a post-religious society. Of course, it won't, as long as we don't let it. Maybe I'm just talking about myself.

On the other hand, just to reassure you that I am still me, despite this unprecedented public reflection on love and faith, I can't stand people who talk about their faith or put it on display or try to get others to be more like them or relate to their god the way they relate to it. It's shallow, vulgar, ugly, vain, and divisive.


KateMadd/skmckinn said...

If you are making a mix on this theme, include Diane Cluck.

Digitizdat said...

Holy shit. (chomping on cigar stub) Now those are some vocals!

It's like she's almost yodeling. The harmony exquisite, and the melody is just perfect to support it w/out upstaging it. I have no idea what the song is even about, because I didn't hear a single word she said because I was hypnotized by her voice. Something about love.