So when I heard that Josh was teaming up with Mason Jar Music in Brooklyn to release a film based on the CD, I was intrigued but confused. How could this be done? What was film-worthy about these songs? Even when I heard that he was coming to the city to preview the film at a concert last month, I didn’t add it to my calendar. But the night of the concert, a friend called me to say he had an extra ticket and asked if I wanted to go.
I cannot tell you how glad I am that I did.
The film chronicles the relationship that Josh and his family struck up with a family in British Columbia, who subsequently invited them and a crew of musicians from NYC to spend some time in BC making music. Here’s the trailer:
So what about this concert—film, song, conversation—was so meaningful to me? As I headed downtown that evening, I did not realize how burdened I was by, well, everything. This wasn’t just a holiday malaise or physical tiredness; I was weary. Weary of heart. Weary of mind. Weary of spirit. Still pressing on, but weary. And that night was rest for my weariness, water for my thirst, bread for my hunger, for it brought me to Jesus.
I cannot say that his CD or movie will have the same effect on you, though I think that is Josh’s intention. His story speaks powerfully to Jesus’ ability to save us from destroying ourselves and to awaken new life where once there was death. What Christ is making us redounds to his eternal glory. It’s always, only, all about him. And when we make it (whatever it is) about us, we’re bound to grow weary. But when we see once again that Jesus really is at the center of all things, all things fall back into the proper place, and we fall back to our knees in gratitude for such a Savior.
Out of these thoughts arose three takeaways for me that night:
- Choosing voices. I need to hear more voices that inspire and fewer voices that instruct. Surveying my data inputs—social networking, blogs, even relationships—I found a disproportionate ratio between teachers and motivators, between the informational and the inspirational. Perhaps that was because I sensed my (genuine!) need to grow in my understanding. But it was at least as much motivated by a self-righteous desire to do everything right (“if I listen to all these how-to voices, I’m bound to get it”). In practice, however, the result was paralysis. So many voices offering counsel. But so few voices that inspire confidence, creativity, risk-taking. So after the concert I took a hatchet to my blog reader. I kept the few blogs that inspire and trimmed the informational blogs to a handful. (After all, the best blogs will direct me to other worthwhile pieces.
I don’t have toI can’t follow everyone.) I’ve also consciously diminished my time on social networking sites. My heart has this insatiable craving for that which I might miss: news, updates from friends, events in the city, whatever. But these often simply clog my mind with information that I do not need. I do not think that Facebook is sinful, nor am I pulling the plug on email. I simply need to be choose the voices that I listen to more carefully.
- Cultivating creativity. One way humans bear the image of God is through our creativity. No, we do not create in the same way that God does (i.e., ex nihilo). But that we can shape God’s world into new, fresh, and innovative products is part of what distinguishes us from the rest of creation. Society tends to be focused on the marketable value of such products: how much money will this project bring? Christians too can take a blindly utilitarian approach to life: how does this task fulfill a particular life-goal? But the mere act of creativity can bring glory to God, reflecting his ultimate Creatorhood in a way that brings him delight. Thus there is value in creating music, learning a language, painting and sculpting, writing an essay, constructing a piece of furniture—even if there is no prospect for monetary gain on the other side of it. For the act of creating puts the glory of our Creator on display.
- Gospel relationships. A quiet tension emerges in the film, as it becomes obvious that the faith in Christ espoused by Josh and his wife is not equally shared by the musicians or hosts. How then does a Christian artist relate to non-Christian artists—particularly when one reason the latter are present is to support musically the explicitly Christian lyrics of the former? I won’t resolve this tension here, but will let you see how it works out. The film offers a few lessons for us all.
This is a long, winding path to endorsing a film. But that night in December had such a profound impact on me that I thought it worthwhile to record what God did in me through it. Even if it doesn’t serve a more ultimate goal (like your purchasing the movie or the CD).
I’m good with that.