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I joined Twitter many years ago but never found it too enthralling. That changed in 2020 when I craved reasonable voices and they were hard to find. I appreciate being able to scroll through varying views on myriad issues. Of course some are crazed and hysterical, but so what? The world has always had loons, lots of them. Serious followers of Christ have the tremendous blessing of a biblical worldview, which serves as a sieve for all information. We are called and equipped to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to lovingly speak the truth.
Anyway, the Twitter sensation that is Oliver Anthony has been an interesting development. I’ve listened to the song a couple of times and can certainly understand its appeal. And I also have an inherent distaste for uptight self-righteousness as demonstrated by many reactions to the vulgarity in the song.1 It is to your glory to overlook an offense, and secondly, every message is tainted by the shortcomings of the messenger (Christ excepted, obviously). If that trips you up, you’ll remain as mature as the little girl fleeing with her palms pressed over her ears: “I can’t hear you.” It’s embarrassingly childish. Are there people who think Paul’s admonishment to “avoid irreverent babble” includes cancelling Anthony? Again, a Christ-follower should be able to discern what is useful and important. Reactionary muzzling is not discernment, and I think it’s worthwhile to engage with the ideas presented in the song.
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Last weekend Anthony gave a concert and read from Psalm 37. Psalm 37 is one of the two most marked-up passages in my Bible. I have prayed it in the course of challenging seasons over and over. Plus, I gave a half hour talk on it to a women’s Bible study group in the fall of 2020. This week I decided to go back and re-read that talk. It might sound a bit boastful but the talk is full of great quotes.2 In Tennessee our church had the sweetest little library, and when I was preparing to give talks I spent a good bit of time in there. I’d open different commentaries and spread them out on a table almost like a law library vibe. Just down the hall was my friend Greta’s office and I’d hear her laugh every now and then. I miss that so much. I miss taking a deep dive on a passage in preparation to teach, and I miss the whole spirit of “my mountain.”
Maybe I’ll write a series in the coming weeks on Psalm 37. It touches on so many different themes. But today I’ll just share one of the quotes from the talk which addressed “fretting.” Psalm 37 warns three times not to fret, and the third time it says, “it tends only to evil.” Do you believe that? What are you prone to fret about? Can you see that it tends only to evil? I am more and more aware of this truth. Regardless, Matthew Henry said: “Fretfulness and envy are sins that are their own punishments; they are the uneasiness of the spirit and the rottenness of the bones; it is therefore in kindness to ourselves that we are warned against them.” How can you be kind to yourself today by avoiding fretfulness?
You may be wondering what this has to do with the picture above. Not much really. It is just an old picture of us with my six-year-old niece. Today is her birthday. On this day in 1986 I became an aunt for the first time. This beloved child has given me almost four full decades of laughs, and now has given be a grand nephew and two grand nieces I also find hilarious. And what better way to fend off a fretful spirit than to laugh with a child?
What would you say is the primary message of Anthony’s song? In what ways can you relate?
Do you pray the Psalms?
Do you think it’s appropriate to pray imprecatory Psalms? And if so, when?
What helps you in moments you feel fretful?
I can sympathize with the moms who would prefer a clean version because they like the song and would like to feel comfortable playing it in front of their kids. I mean who wouldn’t choose a clean version of any song? But to disregard the message altogether because Anthony uses some profanity is something different.
Great quotes are the direct result of great access to great resources and, of course, a great God.