Country Music: Do I still need to listen?

By: Zac Cannon

I do not understand country music. I never have. Growing up in the foothills of Appalachia, country music always twanged solemnly somewhere in the background. From the lowest lows of the poor sap on a barstool mourning the lost love of his wife or his dog or his sister, to the highest highs of the wine cooler fueled celebration of his marriage to his wife or his dog or his sister…I just don’t get!

My wife on the other hand, she is never cuter than when singing along to those tunes; crooning on and on about backroads, riverbends, hot summers, and the kind of love that can only be known whilst within the confines of a pickup truck. I do not understand it, but she does. I love to watch and listen to her enjoy something that I, frankly, cannot.

I am not allowed to let my personal preferences disqualify my wife from having her own. I cannot tell her that she cannot play a certain genre of music because I do not understand its appeal. The two of us can exist on a road trip together despite her preference in music, or my own, because there is something deeper that connects us than that which divides us (and threatens my sanity).

I think our country and our churches and our homes are divided because we haven’t taken the time to understand the positions and the preferences of those we share our lives with. We are a people on the verge, on edge, defensive, and ready to retaliate. We are anxious and suspicious. We want to quickly turn the dial on the radio without looking to our right at the smile inhabiting the face of the person beside us who happens to be enjoying the song.

The least we can do is try to listen for a verse or two.

Our country and our churches and our homes are more diverse now than they have ever been. Besides musical tastes, situated in our states and pews and around our tables are people of different ages, races, languages, personalities, stages in life, and socio-political backgrounds. We’ve got the last of the greatest generation, the Boomers, the Gen-Xers, the Millennials, and the i-Generation all vying for a turn at the controls. We’ve got parents who grew up listening to the voices of the moral majority while doing fallout drills because Russia might launch the nuke at any time, and their kids who have known nothing but war since the twin towers fell. Red and blue, hawk and dove, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. My daughter’s kindergarten class is so diverse it looks like a three-foot tall model UN where the fate of the planet is decided with Legos and crayons.

Our country and our churches and our homes are now multi-vocal, and everyone’s voice is worth hearing.

In my opinion, one of the most powerful and important works of Christ was “the greatest sociological miracle of all time.”1 Through Christ, God dissolved and demolished the dividing lines that we often use to segregate and separate ourselves into these subgroups; an invitation to all kinds and all types of people into the kingdom of God. In the first-century, this could clearly be seen in the removal of the barrier of the Old Covenant; which separated Jews and Christians from access to the one, true God of all people.  As Paul says, “…all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

God came in the flesh to unite mankind with the Divine and, consequently, mankind with mankind. If we are to continue this work, we must take the time to acknowledge our preferences, biases, and even prejudices so that we can fully engage others with authenticity and honesty. We are to fight for unity, not division. We are to listen and engage for understanding in order to love.

Sometimes, we will be wrong. Sometimes, they will be wrong. All the time, God calls us to seek peace and understanding in humility (even with those who enjoy country music).

If you would like to see what this looks like in action, we invite you to our first Sanctuary Seminaron Sunday, March 17th, at 6 PM. Landon and I will be engaging in a civil discourse surrounding the topic of atonement. Come hear us share some of the voices from our past, as well as our own perspectives. Prepare to watch us disagree well in an attempt to understand our own positions better. We look forward to seeing you there!

[1] Pastor Bruxy Cavey


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