Music and Religion

We were chatting on the sailboat, I mentioned that I liked R.E.M., particularly, their big hit, “Losing my Religion”.  Later, in our conversation a remark was made that listening to a song about losing ones religion was bad.  I never forgot that comment, although I didn’t believe it had any merit, at least as I was concerned.

The vast majority of my music library is Christian because it sings about the Lord Yeshua and usually incorporates a spiritual dynamic either through God’s word or the music itself.  The later, I can neither explain, nor prove, it just draws me into worship, focusing my spiritual attention toward the Lord.  I grew up listening to pop/rock music, but later I was able to appreciate many other genres, such as classical, country/gospel, hymns and new age with respect to certain songs and artists.  That is why I ran across R.E.M. as they have a sound that entreats my inner spiritual ear.  I do believe there are songs and musicians who are wicked and dispense the same.  That should be no surprise, but a genre alone doesn’t tell all.

Lyrics are important, for example the most popular song of all time, “Imagine”, by John Lennon has some horrible content which the artist intended.  Other music has lyrics that make very little sense and were chosen to complete the sound, rather than preach a message.  That is true of most of R.E.M.’s lyrics, particularly, “Losing my Religion”.  The artist said it was an expression of being at one’s wits end, rather than losing faith.  They include religious references as a hook, as many are draw by religion, even false religion.  They were surprised by this song’s success, but the mandolin’s contrast to the base and rambling melody is what I find unique.

I generally have an affinity for songs that call out or have an etherial sound.  A classic example is the Hollies, “The Air I Breath”, but the best is Bill Pierce’s Favorites, “Beau Soir”, which you can hear on YouTube.  There are too many outstanding Christian songs to mention but they humble me in the presence of God and renew my Spirit through His exaltation.  Still, music’s appeal varies and I believe it is a gift from God to mankind.  C.S. Lewis wrote that the enemy was incapable of producing real music because of its inherent goodness, but rather Hell was filled with noise.  Of course this was only his analogy to distinguish good from evil.  A recent TV show about music pointed out that animals are incapable of recognizing any component of music, such as melody, rhythm, beat, harmony, tempo, concluding that music was a uniquely human device.

My observation on “Losing my Religion”, is that “Religion” is not necessarily a good thing.  People can be religious about the clothes they wear, as well as referring to a system of trying to be acceptable to God, which ever god they are seeking to appease.  My faith is not a religion as God has done the work of reconciliation.  He found me discarded, naked, covered in my own blood, and dying.  Then He cleansed me, healed me, clothed me and adopted me into His family. (Ezekiel 16: 5-14).  I am in relationship with God through His Son Yeshua, Messiah.  I am a child of God with His Holy Spirit dwelling within me as my guide, comforter, and enabler.  Does this sound like a religious duty, trying to be good, trying to do good to others, following a regimen of pious activity?  I rejected religion as a means of pleasing God, and I would never turn again to it.  Therefore, “Losing my Religion” means, coming to the end of myself and committing everything in abandonment to Yeshua, my Savior and Lord, receiving love, loving Him and others – that’s a good thing.



Categories: Theology

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