Ultimate Concern

Ultimate Concern May 17, 2015

I had the privilege of sharing the song I wrote, “Ultimate Concern,” at Crooked Creek Baptist Church today. I am grateful to the musicians who participated in learning the song and performing it with me. The inspiration from the ideas of Paul Tillich will be obvious to those familiar with his writings.

Here are the lyrics:


Ultimate Concern


Faith is not a sightless leap you make into the darkness

It shouldn’t be a lame excuse for thinking as you’re told

It isn’t clinging to your views until you’ve choked them lifeless

Faith is a state of being ultimately concerned


Faith is not a box that you can tie up with your loose ends

A cell with your assumptions serving as the prison bars

It isn’t stuff you think you know, it isn’t feeling certain

Faith is a state of being ultimately concerned



You are the axis upon which I turn

Bridge I cannot burn

Ultimate concern

You are my center of gravity

Yet you’re infinity


Faith becomes idolatry when placed in church or nation

Too many playing politics with other people’s souls

It’s not achieved by imposition or by inquisition

Faith is a state of being ultimately concerned


Faith is not mistaking symbols for the things they point to

Worshiping the finger that is pointing at the moon

Sometimes it seems its all you’ve got, the one thing left to cling to

and sometimes you let go and find that it grabs hold of you




But yes there is a leap of faith – a letting go of idols

Trading answers for the questions you have yet to know

The absolutes that hide from you the Absolute, the Mystery;

So let the Ultimate become your ultimate concern


(c) 2013  James F. McGrath

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  • Nick G

    So let the Ultimate become your ultimate concern

    Ultimate, schmultimate – people are a lot more important.

    • Tillich argues, and I agree, that when we take our focus off of the Ultimate, we end up putting something less in its place. Rarely do we manage to make that humanity as a whole – too often, it becomes these people over against those, whether these be one’s family, nation, ideological group, etc.