Middle class white people
As the crowd continued to chant, I watched them: They were almost exclusively white, wearing T-shirts and polos, with blonde hair peeking from under MAGA hats. Familiar-looking middle class white people -- like my neighbors, classmates, friends, and family.
Still hanging around?
This argument shapes our politics, its dogma chanted as liturgy in Trump rallies and offered up in pulpits across the land. This is an ancient conflict that never quite seems to go away. For whatever reason, western Christianity has a hard time sticking with a God of love.
My brother and I grew up in the same Methodist Sunday school. We were confirmed together in the same Methodist church. Same parents, same school, same church. We sang how Jesus loved all children. We learned Golden Rule -- "Do unto others" -- and the Great Commandment -- "Love God and love your neighbor." Ours was not a scary God threatening sinners with hell. It was the God of the peaceable kingdom. My brother, as an adult, traded that God for a tougher, stricter one who exercises judgment against all who refuse to bend the knee, a kind of Emperor-God, enthroned in glory.
Same Bible. Different gods.
My brother and I read the same Bible and wound up praying to different gods. His God thunders about lawless mobs and unbelievers. Mine is the mysterious Word, present before the beginning of creation, calling all to compassion, and who welcomes little ones. Same Bible. Different gods.
Criteria for Convergence Songs:
Dear Convergence Music Project,
I am so excited about your project. And I hear what you're saying. You're going to give us music with lyrics that are spacious and generous, that invite us to live into our better angels as we sing them. In many genres, too: hip-hop, traditional, country, singer-songwriter. You're already doing it.
I'd like someone to compose a hymn called "O God of Love Are You Still Hanging Around?" Or, alternatively, "O God of Love Did You Have a Really Bad Week."
I don't want this hymn to be triumphalistic, so I'm not sure it meets your 'praise' criterion. I'm a little tired of praise music. Too often it brings in God the Master even as it might try to evoke a sense of the God of Love. I don't think we need to bow down before Love; I think that instead we can walk in Love, and that this the walking carries risk and sometimes sadness. God is with us not over us. At least in this hymn.
I'll put the point biblically. This hymn needs to have a little lamentation. (I see that you include Lament as a category.) And maybe even allow us to feel sorry for God. I don't want the hymn to go through the motions of presenting challenges we face today, even within own families. and then "proclaim" that, of course, the God of Love will win. I just want it to help us understand that the God of Love is still hanging around. Like a brown-skinned Jewish rabbi (all rabbis are Jewish, of course) on a streetcorner.
Also, if it's OK, this time around please don't assume that God is all-powerful. Put in a little process theology. Let God be more like a suffering servant than a king on a throne. Let God be tender and faithful and vulnerable. Let God be a deep listening: a companion who undersands and lures us toward love and wisdom and creativity, but doesn't and can't control us. Let this God come to us on a donkey not an escalator.
I'll go a little further. I'd like the hymn to recognize that in some ways and in some contexts, the God of Love seems to be losing the battle, as when masses of people chant "Send her back" and smiling as they chant. Let this God know what it's like to lose: to nailed to a cross and quite unsure what's coming next.
Still, the lyrics must contain a hint of the possibility that the God of Love might (and I hesitate to use this word) win. I don't mean "win" as in winning a battle, but maybe "win" in the sense of being more constant, more faithful, more durable, than hatred.
I'm afraid I'm just blabbering now, but I hope you get a feel for what I'm looking for. If someone has already written this hymn, please send it my way.
And thank you so much for what you're doing. So many people are having bad weels. We need hymns that help us understand that God has bad weeks, too.