No one would say that you get real wisdom from country songs. After all, as a genre country music gave us such treasures as “You’re the Hangnail in My Life, and I Can’t Bite You Off”, “You Changed Your Name from Brown to Jones, and Mine from Brown to Blue”, and “The Last Word in Lonesome Is “Me”. No, no real wisdom here. However, not all country music is as trite as those titles. Many of us found comfort in Alan Jackson’s haunting lyrics, “Where were you when the world stopped turning…” after the tragedy of 9/11. Country remains the most popular music genre measured by the number of country music radio stations. And while many people will say they ‘don’t like’ country music they usually have a song or two, or a specific country artist they do enjoy. And to its credit, you will often find songs that speak of God, faith and Catholic values and ideals treated in a favorable manner. Only rarely will you find this in another music type outside of transparently Christian music.
Recently, two songs that have gained a rotation spot on my local country music radio station have given me pause. They both speak of God but from two very different points of view.
The first is by Brooks and Dunn. They are a well-known country duo with a number of hits, awards and great success. They are familiar to many as they are the long and short of duos as well as light and dark. Kix Brooks is the shorter of two with dark hair and a signature dark mustache. Ronnie Dunn is tall with what might be described as dirty blonde hair. Now, honestly their looks have little to do with their music but they are a handsome duo that has known success since they first paired in 1990. However, while their latest release may be a commercial success, it is a theological mess. I am concerned as I consider that many fans of country music may begin to interpret God and His action in their lives from the lyrics of their newest song, “God Must Be Busy”. While the song deals with lost love it also speaks of the need for peace in the world, a missing child and gang violence linked together with a chorus of:
And I know in the big picture
I’m just a speck of sand
and God’s got better things to do
than look out for one man.
I know he’s heard my prayers
cause he hears everything,
he just ain’t answered back
or he’d bring you back to me.
God must be busy.”
Sadly, that defines so many people’s view of God. Prayers go unanswered, needs are not met in a visible, tangible way, and people come to the conclusion that God must be too busy to take care of them.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the latest from George Strait. Another fine looking man, he has been working at singing since 1981 and has had a Top 10 hit every year since then. His recent single might be seen as the antithesis of Brooks and Dunn’s single as it states, “I Saw God Today”. This song speaks of God’s presence in a flower in a crack, the love of an elderly couple and the face of a newborn baby. It’s chorus is a much more uplifting one:
I’ve been to church, I’ve read the book
I know he’s here but I don’t look
Near as often as I should (Yeah I know I should)
His fingerprints are everywhere
I just slowed down to stop and stare
Opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today.
I can sing along to George Strait’s song much more easily than the Brooks and Dunn hit as it more clearly reflects God in my life. I don’t always take the time to look for Him but God (and His fingerprints) are everywhere.
In reality, Brooks and Dunn’s song may seem to make it easier to deal with some of the pain and confusion of today’s very complex world. God must be busy or He would surely come and fix everything we say under our breath as way of consoling ourselves during troubling times. But we need to know that is not how ‘it works’ or God works, so to speak.
God is never too busy for us. Our faith teaches us, through the Catechism, that “God is master of the world and its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God ‘face to face’, will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive Sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth” (CCC #314).
Jesus reassures us of our value in Matthew 6:26-27, “Look to the birds in the sky…. Are you not more important than they? Which of you by worrying can add a moment to his life-span?”
So, while you may find yourself humming along to Brooks and Dunn as you drive or clean house, please never make the mistake of thinking or feeling that God doesn’t have time for you and all of your problems, considerable as they may be. In fact, His regard for you is just a country song away — “You Ain’t Too Small for My Big Heart”.