Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

Betrayed in the Sonlight

January 28, 2009

My artist friends at CT keep telling me about the merits of space– sonic space, negative space, the funk being in the space– and Son Lux puts that on full display. At War with Walls and Mazes is a collection of techno/trip-hop tunes that blend one into the other, each bending time and bringing strength, but each one showing restraint such that the listener can enter into them and find some meaning in that space. There are samples aplenty, and some serious beats, and really groovy riffs, but they are all delivered via lovely arrangements and classical structures. While not explicitly Christian in packaging or promotion, there seems to me an artistic and nuanced engagement with theodicy here. The lyrical content is structured and delivered like a chant (unlike the usual verse/chorus progression), which allows changes and special emphasis. Too, Ryan Lott (the one-man force behind Son Lux) delivers the lines with flat affect, then distorts his voice, suggesting a kind of dispassionate distance. Yet while he and others claim that the lyrical content is lacking, I find some real depth here.

You will betray me, baby, and I will be true
I only ask, ‘May I share dinner with you?’

Is a preposterous sentiment, absurd in the extreme, until one realizes that these words are a paraphrase of Jesus’ sentiments to his betrayer. How does one share life with someone who has already betrayed us completely? How can we stay close and be loving when our ‘other’ is widening the gap between us?

Will you love me
Like he/she loves me
Or will you…
Or will you stay?

Yet at the same time, we expect to be betrayed, don’t we? Being let down by others is part of the human experience. Certainly, Jesus was constantly disappointed in his friends, and if he didn’t foresee the kind of ultimate betrayal that Judas was serving up, he should have– there was too much power at play for everyone to ignore. The people around us will always betray us. Jesus knew this, knew how it tastes to be betrayed by a friend. And he knew what it was like to savor that experience over a meal with that friend.

But for those of us trying to believe in God, the challenge is even more profound. For beyond the mundane– though nearly impossible– task of breaking bread with our betrayers, we need to find some way to re-engage with the One who has betrayed us, ultimately. While we may be reluctant to identify God as the active agent in the disappointments of our lives, God is certainly one who could stop a buck or two. So we feel betrayed by God, because God alone could affect our outcomes. While God may have credited our account with grace upon grace, God’s debits from our account are stark, appalling, and not easily forgotten.

Yet here, too, I see a way forward in the phrase that begins the album, and serves as a refrain throughout:

Put down all your weapons
Let me in through your open wounds

While I’m far from an expert or one to dispense advice, I find hope for the brokenhearted here. Like Job, we ought to feel empowered to stand up and speak up. To express our disappointment with God. State the offense. Name the betrayal. And then, to hold onto these things, not because we wish to be bitter, but because our pains are also our portals to the divine. If we ignore them, or let go of them too soon, we will miss our connection with the heart of our wounded master. Too, we’ll miss our invitation to– like Jacob– be gifted with a limp and to be invited into a lifetime of struggle (ie, “Israel”) with God.

So that, like Job, we can find a fruitful back-and-forth with our creator, as we ask one another the same questions:

Raise a living thing from nothing
Then I will know for myself who you are
Clothed in skin, a pile of dry bones
Then I will know for myself who you are

I will feel breath come into my body
Then I’ll know just who you are…

(HT: ASC for the enlightenment, and Crog and Iz for resonance.)

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2 Responses to “Betrayed in the Sonlight”

  1. Moff says:

    Damn Stav… you should be making the big bucks repping artists… laying down my 10 bucks on iTunes as we speak. This better be good.

  2. wow… this question is just blowing: “How can we stay close and be loving when our ‘other’ is widening the gap between us?”

    This is actually the most painful thing I’ve ever watched someone go through. My cousin survived that process when his wife asked him to leave but he stayed for the year it took to help the kids process what was happening. He’s one of the people I wrote this post for:

    I don’t know how he stayed on the couch for 1 year and suffered the horrible attitude of that woman. Oh the things she did! I’m sure it had everything to do with his 3 beautiful children. :)

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