28 July 2008

Pop Exegesis

A friend introduced me to the music of Sara Groves awhile back. I’d never heard of her: she’s a Christian “acoustic pop” artist, and neither pop music nor contemporary Christian music gets much airtime around here. But her CDs (at least the two I have, “Station Wagon: Songs for Parents” and “Add to the Beauty”) make for nice housekeeping music from time to time, IMHO. Here’s the title track of “Add to the Beauty”:

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are…
This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful
This is grace, an invitation
Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out our best
And I want to add to the beauty
I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside.

What I love about this song, aside from its rather poetic definition of grace, is how I can use it for my own purposes to exegete a verse that gets so many people bent out of shape:

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:15)

[Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge, Groves is neither C nor PP (though to date, she is the mother of 3). Nor does she actually mention the verse in question. So all conclusions drawn here are my own, not necessarily those of the artist, her label, etc., etc.]

Hermeneutic Possibility A: The verse describes how wives/mothers manifest the saving grace that they have received as they persevere in their vocation as Godly wives/mothers. And indeed, we at CSPP find grace, redemption even, in what seems to the rest of the world to be the smallest and strangest of places: the secret world of the womb; the murmur of a nursing newborn. The orderly chaos of a well-used kitchen, the freshness of laundry just off the line. The jumble of shoes in the back hall and the wad of washcloths dripping in the tub. Rocking chairs at midnight; pace-worn floors at dawn. The curve of infant cheeks; the plump competence of toddler fingers; the world through preschool eyes…

Hermeneutic Possibility B: The verse can/should be translated/understood as “she will be saved through THE childbearing” (or so I’ve been told…I’m no Greek scholar). In the strange places of Nazareth and Golgatha, in the small spaces of the blessed Virgin’s womb and the beams of a cross, salvation comes to women, as to all humans.

[Hermeneutic Possibility C: If you’ve dismissed this verse as a typically chauvinistic Pauline statement mandating some sort of evil subjugation of women, or think it means that women who don’t have kids won’t be saved, you’re probably not even reading this blog, or are determined to misread it, so we shall summarily disregard you.]

Now, we could quibble the implications of “calling out the best of who we are” vs. drowning the Old Adam by daily contrition and repentance. But this is True: in unexpected places and overlooked spaces, we receive grace, an invitation to be beautiful—to be conformed increasingly to the startling loveliness of our Lord’s own image.


Rebekah said...

Nice. And a handy counterbalance to our popishness of late. ;)

Joanne Brokaw said...

I've actually interviewed Sara Groves several times and can tell you she is a devout follower of Jesus and is extremely socially conscious. You should check out the DVD movie of her trip to Rwanda and her trip to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. She's a really interesting and thoughtful, and her story of her going from a mom who thought she needed to protect her kids from everything to experiencing all God has to offer is really inspiring.

Joanne Brokaw
host of the Gospel SoundCheck blog

Gauntlets said...

>>an invitation to be beautiful--to be conformed increasingly to the startling loveliness of our Lord's own image.

Thanks for that. Came in the nick of time, let me tell you.

Reb. Mary said...

I tend to get squeamish when the term "social justice" is bandied about, but I was impressed on SG's website (saragroves.com) with part of her story of how she came to be so interested in it: basically, she realized that the constant inward-turning focus on one's "personal faith" isn't really what it's all about.

She apparently does a lot of stuff promoting awareness/helping victims of human trafficking/sexual exploitation.

She writes:

"The phrase ‘social justice’ can be loaded. To some people it is a political or a liberal conversation, but to me, it is a Kingdom conversation. There are people behind these stories and statistics, and God’s heart for justice burns on their behalf."

Thursday's Child said...

I've seen her in person and talked to her a bit. She's a favorite of mine. Unfortunately I left my only CD of hers in the States. Waaah! Next time DH is home I'll have to have him find it for me.