Catholic artists reminding us the church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners
You probably saw it floating around on Facebook: “Bono’s Advice to Christian Musicians: Get Real.” He said he found “a lot of dishonesty” in modern Christian art, comparing it against the raw, brutally honest emotion of the Psalms. “I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing these beautiful…gospel songs, write a song about their bad marriage. Write a song about how they’re pissed off at the government. Because that’s what God wants from you, the truth.”
He’s right: Contemporary Christian music is rife with shiny-happy-praise-the-Lord songs. It is often a better depiction of the “museum of saints” than the “hospital for sinners” that is the church of God on earth. Which is why the following artists are even more of a rare jewel.
Here are five Catholic artists who know how to “get real”:
His latest album is called Square Peg in a Round Hole. It’s the perfect title: Kevin McGoldrick is everything you wouldn’t expect from a Christian artist. He sings about coffee and Nashville with the same ease with which he honors the Virgin Mary and lifts his voice to Jesus. And just when you think you’ve pegged him into a musical genre, the track changes and so too the style right along with it. And perhaps most surprising of all: underneath the beanie, scarf, and sweater he often dons, he’s wearing clerics. Fr. Kevin is a Catholic priest.
This guy gets it: He gets what it is to be human and what it is to be Christian. And that being Christian means being more human, not less (read Gaudium et Spes 22). “The secular is meant to permeate the sacred. If you’re singing a song about the human heart it doesn’t have to have the name of the Lord in it. Beauty is its own end. Beauty does not need an apologetic. What’s the answer to the question, Why do something beautiful? Because it’s beautiful.”
Read more about Kevin McGoldrick on his website.
Above Earth’s Lamentation was a bit of a turn for the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter known for her worship music. The entire album is a journey through grief. “There are certainly parts of the journey that nobody wants to walk through. But to live means we will have to walk through that part of the journey at some point in our lives,” says Sarah. “Grief was one of those parts of the journey for me that I definitely did not want to walk through, but that’s where I found myself.”
A far cry from Job’s “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord,” the album doesn’t gloss over the tremendous loneliness that accompanies grief, and the doubt and the anger the singer felt towards God. Hart shared in an interview, “Sometimes when people are walking through grief – and it can be grief of anything: addiction or divorce or death – and I think a lot of times our Christian answer is to put our arms around someone and say, ‘It’s gonna be okay. Now get over it.’ In truth, these are big, gaping wounds that, if we are believers or not, still take so much time to heal.”
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