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Oh, Happiness

For at least the last decade or so, I’ve been fairly sour on the contemporary Christian music thing.  The reasons for this are many and varied (and likely very predictable as well), but probably not worth getting into here.  Whether it is merited or not, I tend to view the whole American evangelical empire and all of the products it spawns with suspicion if not outright cynicism.

But one of my friends has slowly been chipping away at my hard edges by passing the odd Christian CD my way.  Last week’s selection was Church Music and I finally found the time to listen to it today.  And this afternoon, as I sit here on a rainy day off trying to finish an article on atheism for our denominational magazine, surrounded by bleak and hopeless words like “dysteleological,” “unguided,” “amoral,” “predatory,” and “meaningless,” I am unapologetically humming along to the David Crowder Band’s “Oh Happiness.”  It bears little resemblance to what I might usually listen to, but it’s bouncy and it’s fun and it makes me smile.

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us

And the whole human race
From the full streams
Of Your care
All who come
Begin again

Hard or friend
Rich or poor
All who need
Need fear no more

Such a thing to give away

All regrets
Let go, forget
There’s something that
Mends all of that

Such a thing to give away

Sound the church bells
Let ’em ring
Let ’em ring
For everything can be redeemed
We can be redeemed
All of us

“There is grace enough for us and the whole human race.”  What a beautiful (and happy!) thought.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ken #

    Re: “I tend to view the whole American evangelical empire and all of the products it spawns with suspicion if not outright cynicism.”

    Do you know the origin of your reaction to American evangelicalism?

    I grew up in a family that was suspicious of it, and in a culture that was cynical about it, even holding it in disdain. I no longer have those feelings for the movement at large, although I don’t feel drawn to it. I do feel like some manifestations of it are harsh. For example, I think of Rick Warren’s message in Purpose Driven Life as harsh. I would rather live in a meaningless, dysteleological universe than to live in the one he describes. And there is that guy in Texas, who preaches the health and wealth gospel, writes books, has a huge congregation, I cannot remember his name. He leaves me gasping. I think his message is absurd and harmful. On the other hand, I respect the theological work of evangelical theologian Donald Bloesch, although it is probably not accurate to place him at the heart of American evangelicalism. And I feel love and thankfulness for the kind-hearted man who is perhaps the grandfather of American evangelicalism, Billy Graham.

    January 26, 2010
    • Mike C. #

      “And I feel love and thankfulness for the kind-hearted man who is perhaps the grandfather of American evangelicalism, Billy Graham.”

      Thanks Ken — I tend to agree with Ryan’s comments in his post and the basis of your reply. However, many years back as a 13 year old kid hearing Billy Graham in a full stadium and his call for new believers is still something that sends shivers down my spine. the Grandfather image is also true

      January 26, 2010
    • I suppose the commercialization of the whole thing always made me suspicious. It seemed like there was this whole Christian world that was trying to mimic whatever was going on in contemporary culture only with “appropriate” content substituted for whatever was bad or immoral or sent the wrong message. I even remember seeing charts at youth group where you could pick which Christian recording artists would be appropriate based on whichever secular band they sounded most like. I shudder to think of it now… I suppose the older I got and the more I learned, the more I saw the theology being communicated in the various evangelical products as simplistic as well.

      For example, I think of Rick Warren’s message in Purpose Driven Life as harsh. I would rather live in a meaningless, dysteleological universe than to live in the one he describes.

      Wow, that sounds harsh! I’ve never read Rick Warren, but I can’t imagine preferring meaninglessness to, well, anything.

      I think the guy from Texas you’re referring to is Joel Osteen. I’ve not read or watched anything by him either, and based on what I’ve heard about him that isn’t going to be changing anytime soon.

      January 26, 2010
      • Ken #

        Now, I can see that I missed your point. I understand now that your suspicion is related to American evangelicalism’s commercial side rather than the more general suspicion and cynicism towards evangelicalism that I grew up with.

        Yes, Osteen is the one I was thinking of.

        January 26, 2010
  2. Paul Johnston #

    Great tune. Sparse but infectious melody. It leaves space for your participation. I want you to think about me the next time you listen to it. If you’re every gonna love me, it’s probably my only shot. 😉

    Warren seems OK to me but non sacramental. Too much man to God, not enough God to man. Osteen, I don’t know, his TV persona seems more humble and cheerful than most. Very affirming to the spiritually down trodden. Too much prosperity Gospel from what I’ve seen though.

    Think I’ll go for another listen. 🙂

    January 27, 2010
  3. I’ll do my best Paul :).

    January 27, 2010

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