Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why Sit and Wait?

Soul Asylum
Song number seven in our quest to view Soul Asylum's Grave Dancer's Union album through my crazy Scripture goggles... It's another kind of strange one, but, honestly it's perfect for our purposes. I'm going to do this one in a slightly different style - providing the text in bursts, with commentary between. Click on the title to hear the song then dig my ramblings...

Lives in a lonely little town
No one's around
Except for the drinkin'
Nobody ever gets around
But those who leave the township sinking

May you rot in heaven
Gotta be home by seven
And the field burns away
The sky breathes it in
So why sit and wait for the new world to begin

Okay, so there's a lonely person living in ... well, the opposite of a boom town... (would that be a "bust town"?) It's all lonely and gray and nothing to do but drink. This puts me in mind of C.S. Lewis' book, The Great Divorce. In this theological fantasy, he actually describes hell as a grey town. The people in Lewis' grey town are given the option to get on a bus bound for the foothills of heaven. The song also refers to people who've left... for heaven, where the discouraged singer hopes they rot. For him, "Why sit and wait for a new world to begin" means "This is how it is, so get used to it."
I'm comin' out across your border
With new orders for you to take
I'd really like to take out your daughter
Down in the water, down by the lake
When the cold water's on her skin
I can feel how long it's been

And the neighbors will all be there
And no one will know what to wear
So why sit and wait for the new world to begin

And... here comes the evangelist! Maybe it's me! Or maybe it's one of those people who left coming back to tell our lonely, grim guy about the heaven he's found, "There's another way!" Then the water, of course, is a baptism reference. And it's so new and fantastic, we don't even know what to wear! For the evangelist, "Why sit and wait for a new world to begin" means "The new world is HERE. You can have it NOW."
I got a lot I gotta do just to get through
The end of the day
It hardly ever even happens
But I go to sleep the same anyway

And you can't believe in yourself
You can't believe in anyone else
So why sit and wait for the new world to begin

Then, our lonely, hurting sad sack... well, he just can't wrap his head around it. "I've got a lot to do," he says. Just like in The Great Divorce – most of the people on the bus decide to go home – giving all kinds of excuses and justifications. It just looks too daunting... this going to heaven business. In Lewis' story, the path is painful, and repentance is involved. 
And for sure, pain sucks and repentance is reeeally hard. However, they are assured by helpful "spirits" that as they travel toward this goal of heaven, the pain will become less and less. We have guides, too – every Christian that lived before, the Christians that enter our lives, and, most importantly, the Holy Spirit, who Jesus said would lead us into all truth. (John 16:13)
It helps to know that we don't have to win heaven for ourselves. That work has been done. It is already ours – if we could only see it... and grab hold of it! Another C.S. Lewis book, The Last Battle, one of the Chronicles of Narnia series, has this bit with a bunch of chronically nay-saying dwarves who are in a beautiful sunlit meadow but think they are in a stable. They are eating a feast, but think they are eating hay and manure. They just can't see it. No matter who tries to tell them or how, they WON'T see it. Just like that guy in the song.
New World is like a song
version of this book.
So it's a sad song. To tell you the truth, I used to think the second verse said, "And the fear burns away, the sky breathes it in." Which is sort of like the surrendering to the great unknown that is life in God. It takes awhile – maybe your whole life, but it IS part of the process, and completely worth it. Because, I assure you, NO ONE "rots" in heaven.

1 comment:

  1. i think the opposite of boom town is pft town.very informative piece mam , thank you teaching me something new.,babz