Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Secular Seduction

by Paula Neal Mooney

I see you winding and grinding up on the floor
I know you see me looking at you when you already know
I want to love you, love you, you already know
I want to love you, love you, you already know

Akon's lovely and whining and beautiful and nasally voice just filled my minivan as soon as I turned on the ignition. Yeah, I grooved along for nanoseconds to the hypnotic beat, glancing to read the screen display of "Wanna Love You" by Akon - featuring Snoop Dogg.

Of course I just learned that this is the clean version of the song. The dirty version, probably played on those XL (which my husband taught me stands for "explicit" not "extra large") XM Stations I usually breeze right past these days, admits that Akon's euphemism for "love" is a lot farther away from the "agape" type of love definition.

Too early in the morning for this sinful stuff, I thought, flipping back to my trusty The Spirit channel on XM 33.

Remember me, how You set me free?
I just don't want to go back
Things of the past I no longer see...
I just don't want to go back

Ah...home again. I sang along to Just Dont Want to Go Backby First Creation, thinking how apropos those lyrics were in that situation.

I know the world of which Akon sings. Been there, done that. When will guys like him realize that real love is fighting to get your woman admitted to the hospital after she hasn't eaten for four days due to a peritonsillar abscess, cutting thru blistering Lake Michigan-chilled winds at 4 in the morning to get her medicine, then sleeping aside her in her hospital bed when the HMO battle is won like my Chris did years ago?

But again, I digress. I really want to write about the battle for our souls thru music. When I was growing up and heard that some kids were disallowed from listening to "secular" music because they lived with preachers and such, I thought to myself: Are they nuts?

I'd already begun to ingest a steady diet of the rude boy himself, The Apostle Formerly and Currently Known as Prince.

I stared at this album cover for days on end, learning every lyric, every moan, every nuance of his being, as did many kids of my generation.

Heck, I could've penned the recent study myself that shows that children who listen to raunchy lyrics are more likely to have sex earlier.

And while people are busy studying and pointing fingers at the kids, we might as well focus on that thumb pointing back at us.

The battle doesn't magically end when we turn 30. Of course I hear the enticing beat and crooning. Like when a cute married guy told me he liked Floetry. All summer long I changed the station whenever their song came on:

All you gotta do is say yes
Don't deny what you feel let me undress you baby
Open up your mind and just rest
I'm about to let you know you make me so, so, so, so, so, so,so, so
You make me so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so

Open up and say -- no! Wait a minute! What am I thinking? I'd catch myself. Shekinah Glory Ministry's seemingly 15-minute long Yes song does a whole lot for my Spirit nowadays.

But the battle rages on. After becoming a real Christian a few years ago, I went thru a real judgmental -- yet necessary -- phase where I only listened to Christian music. It was a purifying phase. Then I went back to corporate America in 2004 and had no idea what younger folks were listening to.

"You need to listen to the radio," said Isaac, the selfsame one who teased me for talking like a white girl.

He was right about the music, however, and I did start filtering songs back in here and there with caution. I was in danger of becoming one of those Pharisee- and Sadducee-like "holy rollers" who forget that while Jesus told us to "be in the world but not of it," we still have to "be in the world," not just our own little Christian bubble full of hypocrites.

And when I take it too far, Jesus always sends someone to correct me.

"He's fine," I said about Smokie Norful while talking to a Christian woman I'd just met in the mall.

"You see, when you say 'He's fine,' that's a spirit of lust talking," she replied kindly and with wisdom. "We have to be careful about the kind of music we listen to because the same spirit that is on the person creating it can be transmitted to the listener," she said about other forms of music.

Her words stay with me now. She was also right. Smokie Norful is good-looking, but far beyond that he is a man of God and married -- as am I -- and we cannot confuse that effervescent glory that shines so brightly on men of God with anything else as the devil would have us do.

So I'm back on middle ground now. Somewhere akin to Footloose (no wonder that movie was so popular) -- breaking away from stodgy self-righteousness, enough in the world to know now that the guys who hit me up on BlackPlanet.com with lines like "what it do" got that in part from Lloyd's You video featuring Lil Wayne, who spits that line.

If I don't know even know lines like "let's dip up out of here" are being played, I can't be the voice of love warning girls against reasons for doing that.

The secular world continually seduces, but I feel I'm in a better place in the Lord to listen with some detachment, unlike when I was younger. Yesterday I ripped some songs from my old CDs and listened as I worked out to lyrics that amaze me now with their honest seeking and searching:

Baba Lyrics by Alanis Morissette

I've seen them kneel
with baited breath for the ritual
I've watched this experience raise
them to pseudo higher levels

I've watched them leave their families
in pursuit of your nirvana
I've seen them coming to line up
from Switzerland to America

How long will this take baba
How long have we been sleeping
Do you see me hanging on to
every word you say?

How soon will I be holy?
How much will this cost guru?
How much longer 'til you
completely absolve me?

I've seen them give their drugs up
in place of makeshift altars
I've heard them chanting
kali kali frantically

I've heard them rotely repeat your
teachings with elitism
I've seen them boasting robes and
foreign sandalwood beads

I've seen them overlooking god in
their own essence
I've seen their upward glances
in hopes of instant salvation

I've seen their righteousness
mixed without loving compassion
I've watched you smile as
the students bow to kiss your feet

Give me strength all knowing one
How long 'til enlightenment?
How much longer 'til you
completely absolve me?

I love Alanis and pray she now knows that Christ only can absolve her. And dipping back yesterday into my complete infatuation with Sting and The Police -- this same poster graced one of the slanted walls in my bedroom when I was a teenager -- though I must say that I don't remember Sting's nipple action back then, I was still impressed by Sting's honesty and lyrics that would send me scurrying off the Encyclopedia.

But hearing these afresh made me sad for Sting:

Oh My God by The Police

Everyone I know is lonely
And God is so far away,
And my heart belongs to no one,
So now sometimes I pray
Please take the space between us
And fill it up some way.
Take the space between us
And fill it up some way.

Oh my God you take the biscuit
Treating me this way
Expecting me to treat you well
No matter what you say.
How can I turn the other cheek
It's black and bruised and torn
I've been waiting
Since the day that I was born.

Take the space between us
And fill it up some way.
Take the space between us
And fill it up some way.

The fat man in his garden
The thin man at his gate
My God you must be sleeping
Wake up, it's much too late.

Take the space between us
And fill it up some way.
Take the space between us
And fill it up some way.

Do I have to tell the story
Of a thousand rainy days?
Since we first met,
It's a big enough umbrella
But it's always me that ends up getting wet.

I hope Sting now realizes that he is "the fat man in his garden" and that God never sleeps nor slumbers, but waits for prosperous folks like us to feed "the thin man at" our gate.

Whenever the secular seduction gets too strong, and I wake up with lyrics like Alanis' in my soul in the middle of the night, I return home again, to the type of music that chases away Satan, himself once a music man.

Returning home to gorgeous and powerful songs like the Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) song by Chris Rice off his Run the Earth, Watch the Sky CD, the raspy and wonderful MercyMe singing I Can Only Imagine, and Rescue by Newsong sum up my life, fill my empty soul and make me weep with wonder:

I need You Jesus
To come to my rescue
Where else can I go
There's no other name
By which I am saved
Capture me with grace
I will follow You

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Tisha! said...

I am seduced by you is that "secular"!?

Hey darling guess who is going to be on My Point Radio tomorrow? Me! Can't believe it...it's during your work hours I am sure but I put the details on my blog and hope that you can make it! Many kisses

Jennifer said...

Paula... my gosh you get me pondering and thinking and wondering... all wonderful things! Your awareness, your sense of self, and your insights are so inspiring to me! Thanks girl!

James said...

Food for thought, respect should be expressed in many ways , true love is expressed by every thing we do. You can discover what love is and whom you have love for when they are in need and you are there for them no matter what.I understood love when someone I loved was dying, and disfigured, I would have given anything to have kept her that way forever.

That Journalist said...

I struggle with my Christianity most days. I'll listen to the radio and a song will come on that I know is very vulgar and profane and I'll dance a little to it, but then I'll think: Do I want my daughter to listen to this? If the answer's no, then I have to turn. I tell ya, my daughter is making me a better person. :) And for that, I'm thankful.

kystorms said...

oops, that last post was supposed to be with this, i just wanted to say how truly inspiring that was to me. Can I track back to this?

please do not ever stop writing of the Lord people like me need to see it!

Paula Neal Mooney said...

I'm so happy for you Tisha, I gotta set my calendar to listen tomorrow.

Thanks, Jennifer. It's time for me to hop back over to your blog.

James, I've been thinking about your comments all day! Please enable your profile so I can get to your blog! Thanks!!!!

Tara, that makes sense. Children do change us and bring us up higher (hopefully) in so many ways. I think the same things some day. God has used my children to change me so much...

Sure, Lisa, you can trackback to this. I'm headed over to your blog soon, too.

Love to everyone!

galbabright@tuneupyoureq.com said...

Hello Paula:

An interesting post. I've always been curious about songs that may appear secular, yet leave religious clues.

Have a look at Stevie Wonder's and Stephanie Andrews' "Treat Myself"
from the Conversation Peace CD.

There’s a place I can go
When the tension’s high and I’m feeling low
In a flash I can be in another space
As a different me, have a new id.

I think I’ll treat myself to all the pretty places in my head
Yes, I’m going to treat myself to all the pretty places in my head

There’s no rich, there’s no poor
Everything is love, no such word as “war”
There’s no black and no white
Rainbow colours they, dress the days and nights,
Life’s a paradise

I think I’ll treat myself to all the pretty places in my head
Yes, I’m going to treat myself to all the pretty places in my head

It’s amazing how the mind
Can do what you want it to
It can take you to a time
Where you’ll want to stay forever
Feeling everlasting pleasure

If your life’s in a place
That you can hardly bear
Come along with me to mental ecstasy

I think I’ll treat myself to all the pretty places in my head
Yes, I’m going to treat myself to all the pretty places in my head

Whatsoever things are lovely
Whatsoever things are pure
Whatsoever things are honest
Whatsoever things are true

and check Philippians 4:8

Anonymous said...

Be holy!

Tammy said...

I haven't gotten around to reading the back blogs. Thanks for linking back. I don't want to miss a word. And yes, there are those of us out here who are continuously inspired by you.

Paula Neal Mooney