GrammyYou know for sure you are middle age when you can sing along with James Taylor and you know all the words to ‘Sweet Baby James’. But you have no idea who John Mayer is and the only words you know to his song, ‘Your Body Is A Wonderland’ is, well, “your body is a wonderland”.

It was kinda fun watching the 45th Grammy Awards with Stephen, no. 1 son. Even found myself tapping my feet to Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8ter Boi’. Actually I liked her act a lot and was sorry that she didn’t get a Grammy. I first heard about Avril Lavigne from no. 1 son sometime ago but it was the first time I caught her act.

I liked her because she is 18 and her music sounded 18. And she acted 18. Clearly she is a talented performer. But she also comes across as real. She hopped and bopped with the energy of an 18 year old. And her songs speak of issues from an 18 year old’s world. Like the complaint that life and love shouldn’t be so complicated, like the impossible crushes between skater boys and upper class girls.

When I saw Avril sing I couldn’t but think of another young singer, Britney Spears. Her earlier songs were ok I guess. However, her recent live/video performances can only be described as soft-porn gyrations. Clearly Britney and/or her handlers know the power of her sexuality. And they milk it for all it’s worth. It’s hard to remember that she is just a few years older than Avril.

Which may help explain why Spears burnt out and had to take a break from recording and performing. I wonder how much energy you need to maintain a persona which is incongruent from the real you. I wonder how much energy is needed to sort out the real you from the act you if you put on an act long enough.

I guess pitching your act at teenagers, you need to be visual. And you need to tap on newly awakened hormones. Still, there is just so much you can do with mediocre music. And it’s amazing how quickly people get jaded with soft-porn gyrations.

In contrast, ‘Sweet Baby James’ gets to be sung at the Grammys, 30 years after it was first released. It’s hard to imagine ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’ being sung at the 75th Grammy Awards.

The world of recorded music is but one more mirror to the world we live in: the push for quick results without concern for real quality; Using sex to sell and thereby further cheapening it; The concern for form over substance that leaves little incentive for true creativity; and the worship of the almighty dollar.

I suspect these pressures are there in most industries in various degrees. If we are to follow Paul’s injunction not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2), we need to be aware of these forces that press on us daily. Because these forces are ubiquitous we often forget they are there. The push for quick results, using sex to sell, valuing form more than substance, the worship of the almighty dollar — they are everywhere.

But in the power of the Spirit and with a mind transformed by the Word, we can say no to these ungodly values. Indeed, by the grace of God, we should try to model alternatives. Not many of us may be called to die for our faith. But daily we can live for Christ but saying no to the values of this world. And daily seeking in God’s strength to live by Kingdom values.

You find wake up calls in the strangest of places. Like the Grammys. So to Avril and to all of us, may we always sing, “promise me I’m never gonna find you fake it.” The world has enough of ‘fake’. It’s looking for the truth. It’s looking for the Truth.

Your brother, SooInn