Friday, April 26, 2013

"We are beggars all"

I am always puzzled by people who denounce entire genres of music, usually by saying something like, "I hate contemporary Christian music," "I hate Country music," "I hate classical music," etc. Being honest, I am sure I have uttered such blanket judgments myself a time or two. Regardless, I can unabashedly say that I really like quite a lot of contemporary Christian music. My primary reason for this is that I find much of it is good. But, as with any genre, there is good and bad. It would perhaps be even more incoherent to say, "I love all contemporary Christian music." My reason for being so familiar with many contemporary Christian artists goes back to the early years of my own conversion. To wit: I didn't have a lot of support and so, once I discovered Rich Mullins, Michael Card, John Michael Talbot, Amy Grant, Mark Heard, Susan Ashton, Twila Paris, et al., with many more to follow, they provided me with support and encouragement that I found difficult to come by otherwise. Over the past 25 years or so it has been my practice to often begin my prayer/reflection/contemplation time by listening to such music.

A few weeks ago, with a gift card I received for speaking at Salt Lake Community College as part of an interfaith forum, I bought two books and a CD (one of which I am most excited about: The Lion's World: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia by Archbishop Rowan Williams). The CD was Audrey Assad's The House You're Building. I have listened to it many times over the past three weeks because I like it! Hence, "Breaking Through" is our Friday traditio.

I've got no voice to sing the songs/Written by the prophets on the subway walls/The kingdom is a golden table and we are beggars all

Pretty much a lifelong Christian, Assad entered the Catholic Church in 2007 at the age of 23 or 24 (I was 24 when I entered the Church back in 1990). Tony Rossi, writing for the Christopher's blog back in July 2010, interviewed Audrey. Rossi asked her- "In 2007, you converted to Catholicism. The Church, a lot of times, gets knocked for being behind the times, having too many rules. Yet you chose to embrace this Church. Why? How did you see through the fog of what the culture says about the Church to find there was something of value there?" Her response was striking:
I met a Catholic. I was taught a lot of untruth about the Catholic Church -- you know, the classic "whore of Babylon" and Catholics aren't Christians, all that stuff. And growing up in Italian-Irish Catholic New Jersey, it was certainly plausible because everybody that I knew was Catholic and most of them didn't go to Mass, so I just assumed things. I think what enabled me to see through that was a person, a living person who shattered all those pre-conceived notions with his knowledge and his zeal and, foremost, his passion for Christ. That was what initially jolted me out of my opinions about the Catholic Church. Then from there, the teachings slowly just won me. It was the Eucharist ultimately, the teaching on Communion, that won my heart. I think I knew at the beginning when I started reading about it that if that was true, I had to sign up for that
Who wouldn't? To me this song is best described as being about what theologian Nicholas Lash captured in the title of his book: Easter in the Ordinary.

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