Friday, May 14, 2004

Michael McLean, Me, and the Royal "We"

I was out cruising mormon blogs tonight and came across an interesting one at the Sons of Mosiah. Here’s a few quotes to distill out the message:

“The Mormon "We" Problem

“As Logan and I dove deep into our conversation on appropriate music, I began formulating my own theory and have decided to name it the Mormon "We" Problem.

“It all started when I asked a simple question of "What music should we boycott?" To which Logan responded, "You seem to operate on the assumption that some music should be boycotted."

“My next thought was, "My main point is that although I don't have a very good set of criteria for boycotting music somehow I still do boycott music based on musicians actions (like Marilyn Manson) and I wonder if I should do it more." To which Logan replied, "By equating everything you reject with a "rule" -- or "standard", or whatever you want to call it -- you are saying that if you don't like it, nobody can."…

“…When "we" discuss appropriate media, it is extremely easy for one of "us" to find "the answer" and assume that it applies to everyone just like abstinence from alcohol and wearing garments does. Logan has called me on this a few times even though I never specifically said something like, "I have come to believe X to be true for me, so it must follow that it is true for you". Where X is avoiding a certain type of music”

I found this one to be particularly interesting, especially as a Mormon musician. By that I mean I’m out there making music for Mormons, not just a Mormon making music. Since I’m a rocker, I frequently get comments by people that rock music cannot possibly be spiritual. That noise chases away the Spirit, and it can’t bring it in.

As I delve deeper, I follow that through the question that logically follows: “What music DOES invite the Spirit”. In all cases that I’ve encountered in conversation, the person then describes the music that they’ve always liked, that they grew up with, that they’re the most comfortable with. In other words, “That which I like is spiritual, that which I don’t like or don’t understand is unrighteous noise”.

It’s a perfect example of what’s happening in this “We” syndrome that Logan’s talking about. We find something that touches us, and we generalize that to the whole Church.

The more I look at musical styles and sounds, the more I believe that the Lord communicates to and through people in different ways. Michael McLean is a great example. Mormondom is full of teenage girls, housewives, and yes, even men, who melt with the Spirit when they hear his songs. I’m not one of them. I’ve met the guy. He’s a great guy. He’s an incredible performer, and a great writer. But he doesn’t reach me. His tunes are just too fluffy for me.

And I’m sure there are people who thing my tunes are to loud or sacreligious.

So, why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t people allow me to be touched by my songs, and let Michael touch others?

Let’s let go of the Royal “We”!

Mark Hansen

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