As you probably already know from past posts, I love country music. This has been a relatively recent development in my life, but that’s mainly because I wasn’t exposed to this incredible genre of music until I was in college. I was very excited when I heard that the NY/NJ area would be getting their first ever country music station, NASH 94.7. It’s been a lot easier to get my daily dose of country now that I’m living in Washington, DC, and working in a parish that is just a touch southern (and consequently, a breath of fresh air). There are many reasons why I have taken a liking to country music, but one of the primary ones is that it’s rarely, if ever, grossly inappropriate. Sure, they sing about getting drunk from time to time, and I wouldn’t mess with Miranda Lambert if she ever got a broken heart, but for the most part, country music is family-friendly. They might curse from time to time, but their lyrics are normally meaningful and rarely offensive. It’s even fairly common for country musicians to make reference to their faith in their music. While their music is generally not explicitly religious (with a few exceptions), I don’t think twice when I hear God referenced in country songs. The Christian faith is a significant part of many country singers’ lives, and they are not afraid to include it in their songs. There’s no worry about being ostracized because of their faith, and some artists have even released hit songs that were overtly Christian. An older example of this is Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” but a very new one would be her new hit single, “Something in the Water,” which I’ll go back to at the end of this post.
While it’s refreshing to hear country artists sing about the role that their faith plays in their lives, their lyrics also suggest the huge divide that is prominent in the lives of so many Protestants (and Catholics). Some of the most blatant examples of this can be found in two very popular country songs, “She’s Everything” by Brad Paisley and “This Is How We Roll” by Florida Georgia Line. In case you’ve never heard either, here are some of the lyrics:
“She’s a Saturday out on the town, and a church girl on Sunday. She’s a cross around her neck, and a cuss word ’cause its Monday” (She’s Everything, Brad Paisley).
“Yeah, we cuss on them Mondays, and pray on them Sundays.” (This Is How We Roll, Florida Georgia Line).
So what’s the problem here? I mean, how many popular artists will admit that they go to church or pray on Sundays? Not many. Most of them are too busy singing about their Saturday night escapades and their Sunday morning hangovers. There isn’t much room for God on Sunday mornings when you’ve spent the entire night out partying and drinking. Sunday morning is dedicated to recovering, not God. But here we have some good Christian men who are willing to admit that they willingly go to church and pray on Sunday. Shouldn’t I be praising them for their devotion?
Of course it’s wonderful to hear about well-known artists who still find time in their busy schedules to have a relationship with God. It’s great to hear that becoming famous doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll lose your faith. I’m glad to hear that these men think it’s worthwhile to go to church and pray on Sundays. It’s not Sunday that I have a problem with. It’s the rest of their week.
It’s not a huge surprise that many country musicians are Christians. Country music has always flourished in predominantly Christian areas of the country, and so it’s logical that these two things should be tied together. I’m not saying that every country artist is Christian, but I would venture to say that the majority of them are. I would also venture to say that they’re probably not Catholic.
Their view of religion suggests a very Protestant way of looking at the world. As both of the earlier quoted songs suggest, prayer is something that we do on Sundays. Sundays are dedicated to God, to prayer, to church. What we do with the rest of the week is up to us. Do we want to put aside the crosses around our necks in exchange for cuss words on our lips? Do we want to party all night Saturday, only to attend a church service on Sunday? Is God just for Sundays? Is that the only day that belongs to Him? Then who owns the rest of the week? Do we?
Country music, and the Protestant background that is normally implied, provides us with a very limited view of our relationship with God. It claims that God only gets one day, while the rest of the week is somehow ours. As if every day is not given to us. As if what we do during the week has nothing to do with what we do on Sundays. As if what we do on Sunday has nothing to do with what we do the rest of the week.
None of it is true. The week is only ours because God gave it to us. Every day is ours because it was God’s first. What we do throughout the week affects the kind of person that we can present to God every Sunday, and our time with God in church on Sundays can be our fuel for getting through the rest of the week. If we abstract Sunday from the rest of our lives, if we relegate God to Sunday mornings in church and don’t allow Him to infuse every moment of our lives, we will never experience the fullness of this life. We will never really understand everything that God wants to give us. We cannot leave God at the door when we leave church on Sunday, expecting Him to patiently waiting for us to return a week later. As if time just freezes for Him while we continue to live our independent, God-devoid lives. As much as we might want that to be the case, it’s not.
If you can’t wear a cross on Mondays, don’t wear one on Sunday. If you want to cuss on Mondays, make sure that it’s something that you can do on Sundays, when God (and your mother) is listening. Because even if your mother can’t hear you on Monday, God can hear you no matter what day of the week it is. God cannot fit into an hour time slot every Sunday morning. He’s infinite. He’s eternal. He’s God. He wants to fit into your every moment. He wants to go everywhere with you. He wants to be with you, to hold you when you need to cry, to pick you up when you fall down, to laugh with you at the little joys of life. You just have to let Him be there.
Now don’t get me wrong- I like Brad Paisley and Florida Georgia Line. I listen to their music all the time. I just don’t agree with their theology- or their anthropology. I don’t want to be the kind of girl who has a cross around her neck on Sundays and a cuss on her lips on Monday. I wear a cross every day, and it’s laughter that I prefer to have on my lips. Life is more enjoyable that way.
As much as I like their music, I don’t completely agree with their message. But I’m glad that they’re not ashamed to mention God in their songs. I’m glad that they don’t hide the fact that they go to church on Sundays (even if they cuss on Mondays). I’m glad that I can turn on the country music station and hear these wonderful words: “[I] felt love pouring down from above- got washed in the water, washed in the blood. And now I’m changed. And now I’m stronger. There must be something in the water” (Something in the Water, Carrie Underwood). Now here’s someone who gets it in a way that some of her fellow artists don’t. Here’s someone who can sing a song that doesn’t mention God at all, or can sing a song completely dedicated to Him, but no matter what He pervades her music. He’s at the core of everything she writes. Except maybe when she’s singing about destroying her ex’s car. Probably not then. That’s probably not an example of righteous anger. She might have been washed in the water and washed in the blood, but she should probably get washed in the graces of Confession for that. If only she believed in those cleansing waters…
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!