Well, I never thought I'd be doing a post about Beyonce. I don't think I could have identified one of her songs, or even her face, prior to this week. Alas, I have now had the experience of deliberately listening to her music and reading her lyrics in order to answer the "Why don't your parents let you listen to anything good or have any fun?" question from intolerant Catholic children who play sports with mine. Besides having to wash my eyeballs and ears out with anti-bacterial soap after my YouTube excursion, I think it was a relatively fruitful experience.
My apologies to all of the Beyonce fans who read my blog who may misunderstand the point of this post. I don't hate Beyonce. But apparently, I am viewed by some as one of "those" parents who strive to deprive my children of all fun and joy in life by not introducing people like Beyonce into their lives. I make no apologies for my positions but realize that music is a touchy subject. Even some very fervent, practicing Catholics have a blind spot in this area... not an ignorance, but an ignoring. Most of us do it in different areas of our lives. Some areas are decidedly more difficult to flesh out, but lyrics and lifestyles that very obviously glorify sin and the objectification of human beings... that seems like a Catholic no-brainer.
The kids do not want Beyonce on their ipods. They really just want these other Catholic kids to stop badgering them. While it is at least somewhat common to be misunderstood by non-Christians, it is particularly disturbing to be ridiculed by other Christians for choosing to live a Christian lifestyle. It is disappointing for them to have to listen to their peers repeatedly make ignorant and intolerant judgements about those who think music should always honor the Lord. They also wish that their peers would love Him enough to make better choices.
Enough Beyonce quotes. If you didn't know, you know now. Let's keep each other accountable.
Female peer: "You have to listen to this. You have to. I adore Beyonce. Listen to this... (she sticks an earbud in Cookie's ear).
Cookie: "No thanks."
Female peer: "Your parents don't let you have any fun. You can't do anything. No good movies. No good music..."
Professor: "Hey, do you have any classical music on your ipod?"
Female peer: "Uh... I think I might have one... (checking ipod)... um, yeah... I have one. Have you heard of Beethoven?"
Um. yeah. we've heard of Beethoven. :)
"I'm not talking to you until you start listening to Beyonce," says the boy. I laughed when I heard what he said. My grade school memory kicks into gear and I giggle... Is that a threat or a promise?
I sat down with Cookie to make sure she knew her own mind. As I suspected, she knows it rather well. She loves music and takes lessons. She sings in a choir. I occasionally have to separate her from her ipod so her brain can rejoin the family. She is always singing. She chooses her music and she chooses great stuff. I showed her Beyonce so that she would know. I showed her Beyonce's lyrics. I told her that we have never talked about Beyonce because we have never really thought about Beyonce... or Jay-z or Rihanna or Brittany Spears or a thousand other cultural idols. I told her it's not about keeping fun out of the house... but keeping beauty and goodness alive. The kids listen to what the Chief and I listen to so this is not hypocrisy. And she understood everything before I even said a word. The discussion wasn't particularly necessary although I think she appreciated the time I took to make sure.
Does my family listen to secular music? Sure we do. Lots of it. We just don't listen to trash.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" ~ Luke 10:27
We have known some fervent Catholic families whose children know every sordid line from every popular song on the radio and sing them loudly without shame. And the parents don't even flinch. Blind spot. They worry about secular sex education in the schools and abortion and pray a daily Rosary... but there is no shame in allowing their children to absorb, memorize, sing, shout, and buy the spirit of the world. There is something particularly disturbing about listening to a child sing the music of Beyonce. If you are confused about this issue, then I suggest printing out the lyrics and having your child read them to you in a quiet room. That should clear things up quickly.
I'm not judging the hearts of Christian parents out there who allow this stuff in their kids' heads. I know parenting is tough and confusing. But I am evaluating and judging the music in the light of our Christian faith... and stating the obvious.
"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" ~ Colossians 3: 16,17
Someone, please tell me where... where in Sacred Scripture or the tradition or teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ it is ever stated or implied that raising one's voice to glorify sin is ever acceptable for a Christian? Is there not enough good and pure music available to satisfy us that we must give ourselves over to the spirit of the world in this? I believe that there are saints who would have suffered martyrdom rather than allow the profanity of much modern music to leave their lips.
I had no particular opinion one way or the other about Beyonce before the last few weeks because I was ignorant about her and her music. I am now informed. On a relative cultural scale, she is not the worst. When held up to the light of Christ, her music clearly does not belong on a Christian ipod.
Beyonce is a beautiful and talented woman. I pray that she will one day use those gifts to build up a culture of goodness, beauty, and life. Until then, she will not be on our playlists.