Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Ron Sexsmith

Sometimes when you "veg" in front of the TV it is a completely unrewarding and pointless exercise. On other occasions, you may find a gem. That's what happened to me last Friday when I caught a documentary on Ron Sexsmith on BBC 4 called Love Shines (available for another 6 days here).
The portrait of the Canadian singer making his twelfth album was quite beguiling and has resulted in me buying the album Long Player Late Bloomer from itunes. It's a great album - very commercial in its presentation but with enough depth to make it possible to listen to it over and over again. The vocals remind me of Paul McCartney and Gerry Rafferty but the voice is individual enough. It's pure humanism, of course, but humanism in a very attractive package for all that.
"Heavenly" slips into the quasi-religious as so often happens. Difficult though not to warm to a line like "Pessimism's so tempting/It's spreading all over town". "Believe it when I see it" is more overtly anti-Christian (We've just a wish and an empty vessel/A hole to fill with days/On a road where children stray/Then pray there is no hell/And as for heaven, well). The utter hopelessness of such nonsense is made palatable by the beauty of the song itself. Even bleaker, yet powerful for its honesty, is "No help it all" which would serve as a good theme tune for humanism I guess. "Michael and his dad" is moving. The more aggressive, uncaring and self-asserting side comes out on the opening track "Get in line". So all in all an album that people will enjoy in their droves, sadly having their worst prejudices confirmed at the same time. Or perhaps they will listen carefully, rejecting the philosophy but enjoying the music.
In the documentary Ron says he feels he's here to produce music. He's not much good as a dad or anything but he can produce music. You can see how he has got there but most people won't want to get too close to someone like that, as endearing as he may appear.


Rich C. said...

I've been a fan of Ron's music for 15 years. I've met him a couple times and I can vouch he's as good a human being as he is a songwriter. He's not an evil, devil worshiping rock and roller. I think it's very sad that there always has to be this judgement involved. I feel fortunate to have some very close friends who are deeply religious (various faiths) that don't judge me for my lack of religion.

Gary Brady said...

Dear Rich Thanks for that comment. Re-reading my piece I can see some possible confusion. I want to distance myself from Ron's philosophy, which I think has some real problems. In the final para I was just suggesting that as endearing as the TV portrait was, it will put some people off whereas it drew me as it probably did you. I've really enjoyed the album. As for religion my view is that it can often be a bad thing. It was religious people who had Jesus crucified. Anyway you probably don't want an argument anymore than I so thanks for popping by.

Rich C. said...

Hi Gary: Thanks for your response. I can't speak for Ron but knowing him a little bit I don't think he's looking for people to follow him and his "agenda" per se. He's a loving, kind, polite, honest person who makes great music and for me that's more than enough. I saw him in concert last week and am more convinced than ever he was born 20 years to late to become famous. If he had been around in the 60's and 70's his name would be right up there with all the famous rock stars of that era. Hope all is well with you.
Rich C.