You Found Me: The Fray and the Theology of Art

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:48 AM

Unsurprisingly, I keep hearing the Fray's new single “You Found Me” (YouTube video). It's all over the radio. For some reason, I usually hit the tail end of it most of the time, but I've listened through it a few times and it has some pretty challenging lyrics worth considering theologically (but in a different way than I think you'd expect!).

Isaac Slade writes about his song:
It demands so much of my faith to keep believing, keep hoping in the unseen. Sometimes the tunnel has a light at the end, but usually they just look black as night. This song is about that feeling, and the hope that I still have, buried deep in my chest.

Slade's statement is helpful, I believe, within the realm of the theology of art. The elegy and the dirge, the mournful cry and the bold question, have been largely thrown out of Christian art in favor of fuzzy lambs and lyrics that are best described as cheesy. We ought to note many of these share far more in common with secular “soft rock” love songs than the Psalms or other Scriptures (and no, trying to apply “Song of Solomon” to God isn't a good way to wiggle out of this — that's not what that book is about).

What we need is more honesty. We need more songs that look at the difficulties of life as, well, difficult. Like Job and the Psalmists, we should be willing to ask respectful, but bold questions. We should weep over the fallenness of the world and the brokenness of relationships.

I found God
On the corner of first and Amistad
Where the west was all but won
All alone, smoking his last cigarette
I Said where you been, he said ask anything
Where were you?
When everything was falling apart
All my days were spent by the telephone
It never rang
And all I needed was a call
That never came
To the corner of first and Amistad Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait?
Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me

Of course, if we stop there, if we never go beyond questioning God, that isn't healthy. But, when our music fails to meditate on the difficulties of life at all, it essentially is dishonest. This song expresses the sort of questions I think linger in each of our souls. When we are honest, that makes rejoicing later on all the more sweet.

It's time we revisit this point. Christians of the past were not afraid to express the full range of emotions, the hymnody of the past is rich with examples and literature produces thousands of examples of poetry that fits the point. In an imperfect world, we need to encourage the body of Christ to come forward and seek God's mercy with our actual life situations rather than pretending everything is perfect for an hour every Sunday morning. What we need to do is reemphasize a holistic view of life to the music written for worship and the poetry intended to be read.

We do not need more self-help books, but more God-help books. We cannot solve all of our problems any more than the Jews could solve their exile to Babylon. It took cries out to God — corporate and individual lament — and his mercy to bring them back to the Promised Land. As American Evangelicals we need to learn how to cry out to God corporately; doing so would be healthy and it would also model the properness of similar cries that we may make to God as individuals.

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