Friday, May 11, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Beyonce Edition (Rant warning)

Joining Jennifer at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes...


~1~

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.

What about my body, body?

You don't want my body, body

Acting like I'm not nobody
You gon' make me call somebody
What about my body, body?
What about my body, body?
You would rather go and party
Somehow, somewhere I'll be naughty

~Beyonce "Suga Mama"


~2~

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.

Tonight i'll be your naughty girl

I'm callin all my girls

We're gonna turn this party out
I know you want my body
Tonight i'll be your naughty girl
I'm callin all my girls
I see you look me up and down
And i came to party

~ Beyonce "Naughty Girl"


~3~

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.

~4~

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. :)

~5~

So, these other kids are completely fixated on this issue and they feel the need to nag and ridicule others about it constantly. They cannot wrap their brains around the fact that anyone their age would not be in love with the culture they adore. They can't see outside of their very limited cultural bubble. Who doesn't know and love Beyonce? If you don't know Beyonce, you must be backwards, boring, repressed. It must be your parents fault. They can't comprehend that a young person would actually choose not to listen to music that glorifies sinful behavior and objectifies women (and men). It confuses them to imagine that there is someone out there who hasn't actually even heard of Beyonce before. So they set their sights on the "poor baby innocents" and determine to convert them. So much for tolerance.

"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?

~6~

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

~7~

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.



8 comments:

  1. Wow! This is the best post I have read all week. Putting it this way - "raising one's voice to glorify sin" has encouraged me to rethink some of the music I listen to. I have always thought listening to and singing along with some of the pop culture songs is not a big deal because you're not actually doing any of those things, but that is a really powerful statement. I also really admire you for raising your children so well that they don't even want to listen to music like that. I love your thought that it's not that you're trying to stop them from having fun, but that you are trying to keep goodness and beauty alive. I will have to remember that for when I have kids. Thanks for sharing this, Melody!

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  2. Caitlin - It is a constant battle for me... reevaluating what I am doing in the light of Christ. There is so much that I am hanging on to that I shouldn't. Raising kids helps me gain perspective on many things. I think the biggest reason people don't limit the media garbage that enters their kids lives is because they don't want to tackle the garbage in their own. There are certain mature subjects that little ones should be introduced to at the appropriate time. Other things... like bad movies and music... should just not be in any of our lives. But it's tough and we fight the good fight for our great Love, Jesus. We are constantly being made new! When you have kids, you're going to be a great mom. :)

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  3. You and I should live next door to each other. It sounds like you and I are exactly in sync. My Cookie and yours would get along like a charm... I enjoy your blog very much. My husband read an article you wrote for Catholic exchange and has since then always thought of us as friends. We are very much parenting the same way and may God continue to bless you for your hard work in protecting your children and their innocence.
    Happy Mother's Day!

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  4. So awesome! Loved it! So nice to know we are not alone, along the same lines we don't watch any commercials at our house. Times have changed so much!

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  5. Thanks for challenging me to re-evaluate my music habits. I hope your sweet children can find some true friends who can accept their differences, but congratulations to you and your children for sticking to your guns and convictions!

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  6. Hi. I'm Lori - fellow Catholic homeschooling mama. A friend of mine sent me your link and I'm so happy to read this post! Beautifully stated!!! I've been preaching the same thing for some time now. There is so much good music out there that is pleasing to God. We are a family of music lovers and actually just all took in a Switchfoot concert together. We all had so much fun! My 7 year old just got the new Britt Nicole cd for her birthday. There's so much GOOD music out there!!

    Many Blessings to you and your family! Lori

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  7. Hi Melody, my husband and I were equallyp impressed with this post (I always read aloud :). Thanks for shedding light on a subject that is often ignored. Each of your takes was beautifully stated. We took a lot away from this .

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  8. My husband and I are reading Humanae Vitae right now and thought you'd like to see this in its relation to your post:

    #22 from Humanae Vitae- "Everything therefore in the modern means of social communication which arouses men's baser passions and encourages low moral standards, as well as every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture (25) or by pleading the liberty which may be allowed in this field by the public authorities."

    You go Melody!

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