As I sit here 15 minutes prior to midnight listening to some classics from the deeply R&B-influenced country great, Ronnie Milsap, I am reminded that one of my desires has been to develop a theology that is conversant with that paradoxically humble yet profound, down-home, All-American, everyday-life-glorifying genre that is country music. Correct me if I'm wrong, but country music is essentially the music of the common people, the regular Joes, the great blue-collared multitude of unsung heroes who keep our country running with the work they do in the factories, the fields, and over the roads, not to mention the white-collar folks who are not ashamed to admit that they're just a little bit redneck, the professors, journalists, pastors, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, professionals, and otherwise "enlightened" folks who don't think they're too refined to take pleasure in the ever-ubiquitous "done me wrong" song, hard-core honky-tonk tune, simple, wholesome song extolling traditional values like love between a man and a woman, family life, and faith in God, or tear-jerking, mournful ballad about anything from lighthearted misfortunes like "my truck broke down," or "my dog died," or "Mama just got out of prison and got hit by a damned ol' train" to the more profound and life-altering tragedies of death, divorce, terror attacks, and war.
Call me a hick, cornpone, hayseed, conservative, traditionalist, Republican, Philistine, simple-minded, s***kicker, or whatever epithet you wish, but, deep down, I really just want to be someone who wasn't afraid to admit where he came from, a simple man who admitted his brokenness and was always quick to give praise and worship and gratitude to the God who deigned to leave his place on a high to become a country boy from the backwoods backwater of the Roman empire that was Galilee, to be a simple man who took up all the minutia, earthiness, and quotidian trivialities of everyday life and transfigured them, returning them to us as the very means of contemplating and communing with the God of infinite majesty and glory, to be the "man of constant sorrow" who took upon himself all the pain and disappointment and suffering and injustices of life in this world and endured it, dying and rising again to gain victory over the evil one and set us free from death and sin so that we may have true communion with God and one another.
Jesus Christ is Lord of the commonplace; the one who has been given the name that is above every name because he humbled himself as a peasant though he is the King of Glory. Likewise, may our glory be, not so much in the things that are esteemed as high and lofty in this world but in the humble things like country music and the carpenter's son from Galilee.
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