Guest blogger Dawn Duncan Harrell is author of Ten Ways to Pray: A Short Guide to a Long History of Talking with God.* You can find her at dawnduncanharrell.com.
Did you don zebra and gyrate with LMFAO’s Sorry for Party Rocking tour? Do you even understand the question?
I had to do some research to verify my translation. You can, too.
I will tell you that LMFAO is a nephew-uncle duo, the grandson and son of Motown founder Berry Gordy. They explain their acronym to us illiterati as “Loving My Friends and Others.” In contrast to (grand)pop, however, they make electropop music and dress like a cross between KISS and a comic strip.
Frankly, when I saw them perform halftime at the Super Bowl this winter, I thought they were a spoof-crew, turned popular by accident. I assumed that Madonna had hired them to distract the audience from her ageing.
If it hadn’t been for halftime,however, I wouldn’t have realized LMFAO’s influence on my prayer life.
When I can’t exercise outdoors, I pedal through a spin class. My instructor is particularly fond of one LMFAO song, which she inserts at a sustained, intense and sometimes painful point of the ride.
You’ve probably heard the piece. The lyrics follow a guy dressing, walking, and working out so girls notice him. Then, after a dramatic pause, Redfoo sings in his most electronic, come-hither voice: “I’m sexy and I know it.”
This is one of the least sexy moments in my week. I’ve not showered. I am sweating profusely. My nose is running. The spandex has shuffled. (I work out.) Even were I not in the middle of the gym, the middle of the mirror would reveal . . . ageing. (Jiggle. Jiggle. Jiggle.)
I am not sexy and I know it. Doesn’t sound like a prime candidate for prayer, does it?
At this musical interlude of my workout, I have reached “the zone.” I’ve moved past physical and mental whining. I’m in sync with the beat. I know the instructor’s about to ask us to do something hard. And I’m equally sure that I will not only try to obey her, I will push myself to success.
God and I are in sync, too. We’re not necessarily having a unified conversation about one thing, but I know that whatever he says, I will bear or do well, much like in the workout. At that point, I am convinced that I can embrace the truth with freedom, rather than fear (John 8:31–36).
So by the time SkyBlu answers, “I’m sexy and I know it,” I laugh. It’s the only time in the whole week when I laugh honestly at that statement. The smirk on my face is as true inside as it is out. I’m neither more, nor less, impressed with myself than is good. God and I are unified on the subject of me.
This . . . um . . . “secular” song has become prayer.
Allow me to cleanse our musical palate.
Both the secular and the sacred music of Mozart provided a vehicle for prayer throughout the work of theologian Karl Barth (1886–1968). Barth’s writings radically reformed post-war Protestant theology and his multivolume Church Dogmatics continues to be the most comprehensive systematic theology since World War II.
Nevertheless Barth understood that communing with God was not limited to how perfectly he could conceptualize God (Rom 11:33). To balance his focus on objective moral principles, Barth immersed himself in music.
In “A Testimonial to Mozart” (Pott 1986, 16), Barth writes, “I have for years and years begun each day with Mozart, and only then . . . turned to my Dogmatics. . . . How am I to explain this? In a few words perhaps this way: our daily bread must also include playing.”
Loving your friends and others is good, but do you play with God? Can you laugh with him? If not, how will the two of you be unified on the subject of you?
*This piece is an adaptation of a previous post, which you can find here.