A confession: when half the Facebook world, it seemed, started posting a link to a spoken word piece called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”, I (in my lazy way) clicked on it, listened to about four lines, decided I wasn’t a fan, and immediately moved on. But then someone posted another video called “Why I Love Religion, And Love Jesus”, and I got more interested.
Here are the two pieces, side by side.
This seems to me a lovely illustration of a couple of facts about the church. For one thing, it’s complicated: different bits of it are very different, whether you’re comparing denominations on a global scale, or individuals within a congregation. For another, these complications don’t need to faze anyone. It is possible to communicate, to communicate even where significant differences of doctrine or practice exist, to learn from each others’ strengths, and to acknowledge that Christianity is large and beautiful enough to be looked at from different angles.
Spoken word seems to lend itself to plain, straight, declamatory statements of opinion or truth—and when (in the listener’s opinion, I suppose) what’s stated is the truth, and when the words are the right words, their sense and the rhyme falling happily into place, it can be a satisfying and powerful medium. These pieces, I think, both have some good lines, though also some less-good lines. By putting them together, we can see that although a straight proclamation in one voice can be useful, it can also be limiting. Writing sometimes needs complexities and multiple voices to do justice to the complexities of reality. (I suppose this is one reason why there are so many books in the Bible.)