Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place: Modern Psalms for Lent 2018

Each year I develop a soundtrack for Lent titled, Modern Psalms for the Lenten Journey.  Usually they are weekly songs from varied contemporary artists, which I post here and pair with a biblical text. This year, I may only need a single album. 

“The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place,” by Explosions in the Sky.*

Purely an instrumental album, each piece moves between haunting and hopeful, mysterious and soul stirring. Even the track titles bear a sacred significance, seemingly liturgical in label. 

And the best part, there are no words. Because the condition of the world in the twenty-first century is in need of something more than lyrics and nuanced rhetoric. Words serve a place, especially when put to paper in efforts to organize communities, draft legislation, lobby for signatures, cry out in prayer, and call neighbors near and far to action on behalf of our most vulnerable neighbors. But our words are not enough, we need another kind of rhythm to move our souls and bodies, to link arms for causes that demand safety in our schools, enhanced legislation related to the reduction of access to firearms, fair economics, disrupted pipelines to prison, dismantled systems and institutions fueled by racism, universal provision of healthcare, gender equality, hospitality extended to immigrants and refugees, the end of sexual assault and harassment- especially in the workplace, and the stymying of wars started and sustained to pad the pockets of the 1%. 

The list could go on and on related to aspirations for social jubilee…but that’s where I put on this album to center my spirit and imagination, to draw me into the Lenten story for the next 40 days. It forces me to move beyond the limits of language and towards something and Someone completely Other. Still more, I am reminded that amidst all that is wrong with the world- and there is so much that is so very wrong- this planet is still that which God so loves. So it cannot be purely a cold, dead place. There is beauty to be found if we have the eyes to see and the ears to ear. And this beauty just may be the Spirit’s nudging us to press on in our work and witness as those called out of dust and towards resurrection hope. 

Paralleled Biblical Text for this Album: Genesis 1 (The Full Creation Story)

*I first discovered this album as a part of Rob Bell’s interview of a former seminary classmate of mine, Caleb Wilde, who wrote a book, Confessions of a Funeral Director. A collection of anecdotes that explores the sacred amidst death and dying, this book also makes for a great Lenten read. The podcast is fantastic, too.