I got a new CD the other day. I took it home from the store and cut it open to read the lyrics. I was blown away. I put it in the CD player to listen and just continued to play it over and over. I have been listening to it almost constantly.
Now if I was Brianne, you would know what the album was without even asking, since she talks about her passion all the time on her blog.
But this is my blog and therefore you probably want to know what CD I’m referring to. (Unless, of course, you recognized the title.)
I’m talking about Switchfoot’s new album, Nothing is Sound. I first got into Switchfoot with their Beautiful Letdown CD, so it’s not like I’m a long-time, die-hard fan writing here. But I was touched deeply by songs like “Meant to Live,” “This is Your Life,” and “Dare You to Move” (which is probably one of my most favorite songs ever).
So naturally I was drawn to the new CD, despite my brother’s warning that a friend of his hadn’t liked it as much. Well, I like it so much that I’m blogging about it, except I hardly know where to begin.
I guess what hits me most and hardest is the unrelentless honesty of their songs. They are singing about things like brokenness and wounds and what is life all about, anyway? They pick up on the absurd paradoxes and double standards of our culture in a way that keeps form being overly cynical by adding in hope, and they aren’t afraid to humbly admit they are as much a part of the problem as anyone else.
I love it.
The minute I began reading the lyrics, I was hooked. But now I’ve been playing it over and over, and I just went to their website. I read Jon Foreman’s notes on how the songs came about and what the album is really supposed to be saying. I almost cried. Sometimes I’m afraid that the things I love so swiftly and deeply are things I will regret later. This is probably a lie of the Enemy. I told my family (and Brianne) that it felt like they had read through Ecclesiastes before writing the songs, and Foreman mentioned not only Ecclesiastes, but Psalms as well. He spoke with such honesty about the paradoxes in our world…I don’t know why but it was so refreshing.
This is the kind of CD I could put in at the end of a long, horrible day, when I’m angry with my life or myself or when I just don’t understand what is going on in the world. And it is the kind of CD that would make me feel better. It is like a lament: it starts with questions, with admissions of pain, loneliness, and wounds…and moves into an acknowledgement that there is still hope. It lets you cry, it lets you sing, it lets you breathe.
To keep this from sounding like an ad for Switchfoot, I just want to make it clear why I love it so much. I have felt for a long time that there is something lacking in our culture—and that it has spilled over into the Church. Call it what you want—honesty, openness, authenticity. We are afraid to be ourselves. We are afraid to let others see us struggling. Wait. No. I. I am afraid to let people know when I am hurting. I don’t want people to see me when I am vulnerable. I hate to cry in front of others.
I think the reason for this is that something critical happens when we share the vulnerable broken parts of ourselves with someone else. You can only forge a genuine friendship—or any other kind of ’ship—when you are real with someone else. And if there is one thing our Enemy hates, it is fellowship. He will keep us from being real if it keeps us from being connected.
These songs are about brokenness; they aren’t about how great life is when you become a Christian. They aren’t La-la-la-le-lujah songs. Those have their place, but we’ve made them the center. We have forgotten how to lament.
Sometimes when I walk into church, I want to turn around and walk right back out again. I hear the music: it’ another “It’s a Wonderful Day So Let’s Praise the Lord” song. Are you kidding me? I overslept and missed breakfast and got into fights on the way here. I had a lousy week at my lousy job. The highlight of my week was watching TV. And now I’m supposed to automatically turn on my smile and start singing? I can’t do it. Well, I guess I can…but I don’t like to. I need time and silence to get my heart right with God again.
These songs speak to that need. They speak to that place inside you that wonders while you sing in church, “Am I really satisfied? Am I really as happy in Christ as this song says I should be?” So if you’ve ever felt like something wasn’t right—with you, with the world, with everything—go get this CD. And go read what they have to say about the songs. And don’t ask me if they are a Christian Band. Listen to it and decide for yourself.
And the next time someone asks how you were doing, before automatically responding, “Fine,” at least consider being honest.