Art Every Wednesday (19)

The first time I heard the song, “Bukowski” on Modest Mouse’s Album “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” I think I turned it off. Years later I’ve gotten back into Modest Mouse and this is one of my favorite songs on the album, for exactly the reasons I turned it off the first time I listened to.

I’ve put the lyrics up and a video with the audio of the song. Read the lyrics and listen to the song all the way through. The song is raising serious questions and the Christian response should not be to shut it off. Modest Mouse has made a song that frankly and honestly handles doubts about God. It raises good questions. If God has a plan, can it be trusted? If God is powerful, does that make him a control freak? Does his plan bring flourishing? Does our greatest happiness lie in freedom or God’s plan? Why is there suffering if his plan is so wonderful?

Every serious and thoughtful person has to wrestle over these questions if they are going to explore Christianity. I would say that this song, no matter what the eventual conclusions are, is simply art made in the thick of that process, and as such, it deserves listening. As Schaeffer said, “There is nothing more ugly than a Christian orthodoxy without understanding and without compassion… dare we feel superior when we see their tortured expressions in their art? Christians should stop laughing and take such men seriously. Then we shall have the right again to speak to our generation. These men are dying while they yet live, but where is our compassion for them?” If we do not listen, we have not right to speak. And again, “This is sensitivity crying out in the dark”

Don’t turn it off. • The gospel brings us near those who ask these questions (and not with a quick answer like a bandaid) but with love that leads the people of God to become incarnate in this world just like God himself became. The light doesn’t shine in the darkness until it enters the darkness. And it really does shine. As a person convinced the gospel does bring flourishing and proscribes a way to live which leads to greater, not lesser, freedom I can only say there are reasonable answers within the Christian worldview. In fact, that why I am a Christian (one reason). It’s answers make sense of life, and you can take questions like these to the Gospel and find them satisfied and still have a world worth living in.

Lyrics:
Woke up this morning and it seemed to me, that every night turns out to be a little bit more like Bukowski. And yeah, I know he’s a pretty good read. But God who’d wanna be? God who’d wanna be such an asshole? God who’d wanna be? God who’d wanna be such an asshole?

Well we sat on the edge of the river, the crowd screamed “Sacrifice the liver!” If God takes life, he’s an Indian giver. So tell me now why you’ll tell me never. Who would wanna be? Who would wanna be such a control freak? Well who would wanna be? Who would wanna be such a control freak?

Well see what you wanna see. You should see it all.
Well take what you want from me. You deserve it all.
Nine times out of ten, our hearts just get dissolved.
Well I want a better place or just a better way to fall.
But one time out of ten, everything is perfect for us all.
Well I want a better place or just a better way to fall.

Here we go!
If God controls the land and disease, and keeps a watchful eye on me, if he’s really so damn mighty, well my problem is that I can’t see, well who’d wanna be? Who’d wanna be such a control freak? Well who would wanna be? Who would wanna be such a control freak?

Evil home stereo, what good songs do you know?
Evil me, oh yeah I know, what good curves can you throw?
Well all that icing and all that cake, I can’t make it to your wedding, but I’m sure I’m gonna be at your wake. You were talk, talk, talk, talkin’ in circles that day, when you get to the point make sure that I’m still awake, OK?

Went to bed and didn’t see why every day turns out to be a little bit more like Bukowski. And yeah, I know he’s a pretty good read. But God who’d wanna be? God who’d wanna be such an asshole?

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2 Responses to Art Every Wednesday (19)

  1. Jarred D. says:

    I’ve never been a huge Modest Mouse fan but they raise a good series of questions in many of their songs. Their song “Third Planet” is one of my favorite songs. Much like Bukowski it raises the question of the reality of God. Modest Modest reminds me of the Beetles in the way they are seemingly searching for something greater than what’s on this earth. Thanks for some good thoughts. I really enjoy art Wednesday.

  2. Jarred D. says:

    I’ve never been a huge Modest Mouse fan but they raise a good series of questions in many of their songs. Their song “Third Planet” is one of my favorite songs. Much like Bukowski it raises the question of the reality of God. Modest Modest reminds me of the Beetles in the way they are seemingly searching for something greater than what’s on this earth. Thanks for some good thoughts. I really enjoy art Wednesday.

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