Learning Mumford & Sons or Did I Just Go To Church?!

Posted: July 24, 2013 by kmriad in Music Reviews, The Girl, Uncategorized

“Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires!
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.”  –MacBeth

I’m very late to the party with this, I know, but bear with me anyway.  While I’ve been listening to Mumford & Sons for a while, I haven’t really listened to them until recently.  Not with the same passionate, slightly obsessive vigor with which I treat Kings of Leon.  And that means going in search of the lyrics, reading and learning and memorizing them the way one does poetry.

It was the song, “Roll Away Your Stone” that took me to the internet to search for its words.  Every time I listened to it, my attention would hone in on “Stars, hide your fires.”  I knew it was Shakespeare, but I couldn’t remember which until I was reading a book and saw it quoted from MACBETH.  Excited that Mumford & Sons would quote that infamous, dark and grisly play, I searched for the rest of the words around it, hoping to see what message they were trying to convey.

It was on one of those lyric sites that I found others’ comments; their theories on the meaning and it was there that I found the Christian message woven into the words.  Roll away your stone could be in regards to moving aside the stone that blocked the body of Christ within the cave from which he resurrected.  Then of course there was all of this soul and grace talk and I had a very STEPBROTHERS-type WHAT?! moment.  In talking to friends, it was agreed that much of their music is based in faith.  After I sat there wearing a frown and staring at my computer screen like it had turned green and started oozing pus, I wondered why that should change the feel of the song for me.  Why does knowing a song is “Christian Rock” or sung by a “Christian” singer devalue it in my little atheist mind?  But it does.  Inexplicably.  There are sites I stay away from that have the infamous numbers colon numbers following some italicized text, songs that will peak my interest until I see the capitalized H in He and books that I will flat out not go near, especially if Kirk Cameron has anything to do with them (I don’t think I’m alone in that one, thought.)  And I wonder if I’m missing out by limiting myself this way.

There was a time when this wasn’t so.  In my youth, when I was going through my questioning phase where I asked, “What if?” though it always preceded, “Eh, still don’t buy it” (I sort of started out agnostic, dabbled in belief and then went full-blown atheist) one of my favorite books was the Darkness series by Frank E. Peretti.  I LOVED these books of angels versus demons, light battling dark and the sacrifice of Christ painting it all in his blood.  It never bothered me then, so why does it now?  A few years back a wonderful book series by Robert Liparulo was recommended to me, but it came with the warning, “It gets a little Jesusy, though.”  I enjoyed the books, but it did taint my opinion when the Christian message started to bleed through like Sharpie on rice paper.

As an atheist, I’ve somehow surrounded myself with Christians.  My best friends all proclaim their love of Jesus and it doesn’t affect my opinion of them, so why should it my interests in music and books?  Why limit myself because I don’t believe in the message.  I still read mythology and fairy tales and to me, it’s no different.  I don’t really know the answer.  I guess I’ll just leave it to my friends and Mumford & Sons to change my mind, one song at a time.

  1. John Barber says:

    We went to see Joss Whedon’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING last week (which was wonderful, btw) and I realized that they quote that play as well “Man is a giddy thing” and “Serve God, love me, and mend” show up in Sigh No More.

    I love this post because it asks a few vital questions. 1) How much does the belief system of the author impact the art?; 2) Does the artistic Christian subculture do more harm than good?; and 3)Why is Kirk Cameron still a thing?

  2. kmriad says:

    So what we’ve learned is that Mumford & Sons are not really talented lyricists at all, they just ride on the coattails of Shakespeare?

    What’s so odd is that I love Kings of Leon and I’m well aware of their background fully entrenched in the church, complete with bodies-flailing, hands-raising, tongues-speaking revivals and yet I have no problem with their music. Maybe because I find the loss of faith more fascinating. Not that I’m happy over someone coming to the “dark side” but the questioning desperation of faith lost is so much more intriguing that the affirmed confidence of faith held.

  3. kmriad says:

    Also, John, you’re evil for waking a girl up before her alarm goes off!

  4. Beth says:

    Ok, so I’m FINALLY replying to your post, KMRIAD! Your post brings up so many great points regarding faith and its part in our world today. I find it inspiring to hear “themes” in music that is accepted by mainstream audiences. It’s almost like a small high-five in my general direction. The general audience may not get the more intricate message, but it is there, nonetheless.

    Thanks to you, I am currently reading Looking for Alaska from John Green, though I’m not tearing through it like I did with A Fault In Our Stars. The narrator of the story, Miles, brings up a very similar inner dialogue when he discovers he has to take a religion class at this new boarding school he is attending. He says he has never been religious, but found the information interesting, much like a myth or story. (I’m finally half way through, and yes, I think you would enjoy it!)

    I guess, as a person of faith (not of religion), I would challenge you with this question. Is your aversion to anything “religious” enough to keep you from enjoying some really great music like Mumford and Sons or Avett Brothers? I sure hope not, because they are amazing 🙂

  5. kmriad says:

    YAY for Beth commenting! And challenge accepted. I’ll just use my superior imagination skills to pretend M&S and The Avett Bros are singing about something else.

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