Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dark stuff and children's music

I have found that there are some folks, particularly of the evangelical sort, who register their objections to my music on these grounds; that children should not be confronted with evil and darkness until they are old enough to understand it. They themselves are quite content to go where the Bible Story Book leads them, through sanitized versions of anything dark in the Bible, and altogether leaving out a whole bunch of stories which seem to be deemed unredeemable. How do you tell a kid about the story of Ehud and the fat Eglon without getting into potty language? How do you tell about Jael and Sisera without bringing up a whole strain of subjects that I'd rather not have to talk to my kid about just now, thanks!

It is a good thing to protect your children from evil influences, it is a bad thing if any part of the Bible is included in ones understanding of "evil influences".

I was reflecting on this reluctance of ours awhile back when I thought of the story of Samuel as a boy. You remember it...

"Samuel! Samuel!"

Samuel runs to Eli, "Here I am, for you called me!"

"I didn't call you, go back to bed".

...and so forth, until Eli realizes that God is talking to Samuel, and instructs him how to respond the next time the Lord should call. Samuel does so, and the Lord speaks to Samuel. Do you recall what God told him?

I'm going to bring disaster on Eli; his sons will die before he does, none of his descendants will live to be an old man, they will be cut off from the priesthood, they will be sickly, etc.

Now, we can only guess at how old Samuel was at this point, but he was certainly a pre-teen, and God did not think it out of place to fill this boy's ears with a message that would make the ears of everyone who heard it to tingle. It wasn't uplifting; in fact, it made Samuel quite afraid to tell what he had been told.

I think that we need a whole army of songwriters for kids who would take this piece of knowledge to heart. There are a thousand Bible stories, and a multitude of ways to approach each one, and they are full of murder and lust and fear and threat and conquest and lies, all of which need to be set forth faithfully, with appropriate music, so that kids will grow up hearing the Bible's actual story. They need to be taught the whole counsel of God, not the Reader's Digest version.

It seems to me that it is almost always the case that if you miss the dark parts in your telling of the Story, you miss the point of the Story. Veggie Tales may be entertaining, but if you are expecting them to give your kids an understanding of God's Story you expect in vain.

So, some of my songs are dark... but I have a good model to follow. Thank you Lord, for what You told Samuel!

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