In the late 70’s, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band did a modified cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light”. The song was a #1 on the Billboard, and it still gets played like crazy on today’s commercial classic rock stations. As it should, the song is awesome. I mean the outer-space arcade noises and “chopsticks”… what’s not to like?
This song hooks you from the very first lines.
“Blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche, another rover in the night…”
Wrapped up like a douche… that’s gross, and it doesn’t even make sense. What gives, Manfred?
The truth is, those aren’t the lyrics. Check it out:
It’s actually “revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.” He’s singing about racing a car, not a feminine hygiene product.
This is a classic example of a mondegreen. It’s when you mishear the lyrics of a song resulting in a new (and maybe non-sensical or crass) meaning.
There are a lot of funny mondegreen’s out there (like “hold me closer, Tony Danza”), but there are some other mondegreens out there that are pretty sad, or offensive, even deadly. I’m talking about the mondegreens, or mis-hearings, of what it means to be a Christian. The noise of judgment and hate, homophobia and child sex-scandals, and preachers with private jets who teach that the earth is 7,000 years old has caused too many people to mishear what following this Jesus guy is really about.
I think these mondegreens are worth clearing up.
People should know that church isn’t about checking your brain at the door or blindly believing in something because some old man with a pointy hat or goofy looking collar tells you to. It’s really about a community that gathers and intentionally asks some of life’s deepest questions, like “what am I here for?” and “how do I do life well?”, because these questions matter! It’s really about wrestling with doubt instead of giving in to apathy or a fragile fundamentalism. It’s about putting contemporary questions and wisdom (including the sciences and pop culture) in conversation with ancient questions and wisdom (including those in the Bible, and even those from other faith traditions) because we have a lot to learn from one another!
People should know that church isn’t about checking enough boxes to get that ticket to heaven (or to get grandma off your back). It’s about a way of being! It’s about caring for the earth. It’s about caring for people. It’s really about making a difference in your life and in the world, here and now!
People should know that church isn’t all about telling you you’re going to hell and then asking you for your credit card number. It’s really about a love that is stronger than any hell-on-earth you, or I, or your neighbor, or the victims of the “Charlie Hedbo” shootings, or the victims of drone strikes around the world, may find ourselves in – a love that says you don’t have to go through this hell alone. It’s really about a community that dares to hope!
Maybe I’ve been blinded by the light, but I believe that God, and love, and people being the church really matters. The world is so desperate for hope, and the only way those mondegreens will get cleared up is if people’s lives sing the real song.
P.S., I’m hoping this blog will be about clearing up the mondegreens about what it means to be church. It will be about life and faith, questions, music and pop-culture, gardening, biking, cooking good food, learning to play banjo, and whatever else is on my mind. It will also be about my adventures in building a faith community in Northeast Minneapolis that would dare to hope, and care, and question, and love together.
I hope you’ll find me to be a good conversation partner!
Thanks for reading/commenting/sharing/etc.