Anti-Climacus


"Thou shalt not extinguish thine anger, but shall master it, that thy conscience may not be blunted by adjustment to wrong causes."
-The Dutch Ten Commandments to Foil the Nazis

15.1.13

A fine example of what's wrong with cultural criticism these days:

It’s funny how Belle & Sebastian lyrics can often be overtly Christian in their themes and reference points, but they’re rarely pegged as a Christian Band. I think this is because Stuart Murdoch is never dogmatic, and always conversational in tone, and his faith is presented as just something that informs the world view of his stories. “If You Find Yourself Caught In Love” is as didactic as he ever gets, but it’s still this breezy song in which he’s mostly just telling the listener to either be thankful for the love they have in their life, or to take charge and find it for themselves. There’s a digression where he condemns war and brutality, but it’s just taking a simple message and increasing the stakes. The lines about surrending one’s will to God can be a bit much for a nonbeliever, but at its heart, the song is really just paraphrasing a far more famous tune: “All you need is love / Love is all you need.”

By all means, reinterpret someone else's work so it doesn't say anything inconvenient to your own personal way of looking at the world. In fact, to be on the safe side, you should probably whittle their sentiments down to the most anodyne formulation possible.

This is more annoying than it might be otherwise because the underlying point is correct: Belle and Sebastian spend a significant amount of time addressing religious themes and tropes; the more you know about Christianity, the more you're likely to see (Write About Love has more religious songs than not). What's more, their willingness to explore this at greater length has much to do with the success of their last few albums, providing a better ground for songwriting than the endless travails of kids at school, which become difficult to manage after passing a certain age. That they can remain popular while doing this should say something, but it's probably something only to be understood by those Christians looking for influence on popular culture.

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