Thursday, 28 October 2010

Giveaway: Butterflyfish, Great and Small

I've posted before on the wonderful children's band, Butterflyfish, headed up by Harvard theologian and all-around-nice-guy, Matthew Myer Boulton. The band now has a new album, Great and Small – and they've kindly offered a giveaway copy, so leave a comment to enter the draw.

I can't recommend this album highly enough, especially if you (a) have children in your house, (b) get migraines from the usual clatter of kids' music, (c) enjoy a bit of gospel-jazz-country music, and (d) think that children are actually smart enough to understand the Christian faith, not just pious banalities.


The new Butterflyfish songs (also blogged about here and here) are a jubilant celebration of music, life, forgiveness and grace. My favourite song, "You Be You", is a gorgeous, musically luxuriant duet about the joys of singing and making music – I dare you to try listening to it without grinning from ear to ear. 

The title track, "Great and Small", is based on the Hasidic saying that each of us should carry around two pieces of paper, one in each pocket. One piece of paper says "I am but dust and ashes": I read this when I'm feeling proud and self-important. But when I'm feeling worthless or ashamed, I read the other piece of paper, which says: "For me the world was created." The song reflects this humble-yet-proud duality of our relationship to God:

Deep down here inside my pocket there’s a little piece of paper
I take it out and read it when I’m feeling out of shaper
To keep my fears at bay,
It says you are great

Deep down in my other pocket there’s another piece of paper
I take it out and read it when I’m getting into shaper
When I’m walking tall, 
It says you are small

Dust to dust we shall return
The whole wide world was made for us to learn
That we are great and small
We are tiny and tall
Remember through it all
We are great and small


Another song, "The Gospel Story", serves up some serious theological reflection on the relation between our world and the coming kingdom of God:

I ain't goin' up to heaven in the sky
I ain't flyin' with the angels when I die
I ain't gonna rise up in the clear
Cause I do believe my dear
Heaven's comin' down here

That's the gospel story
That's the gospel plan
Kingdom of glory's right here at hand
So don't you worry, woman and man
That's the gospel story
That's the gospel plan

This is a fun and colourful song, but the theology is potent. Honestly folks, is there anything more disturbing than the way Christian books and music for kids cultivate a life-denying obsession with the afterlife? A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a young church-going kid. I asked what she wants to do when she grows up, and she replied right away: I want to die and go to heaven to be with Jesus. If the gospel teaches our children to be in love with death, is that really better than not hearing the gospel at all? Of course I'm not suggesting that the eschatological hope should be erased: but the point of eschatology is that it floods this world and this life with the light of hope. 

The other day my six-year-old daughter (who loves to draw) asked me about heaven. I gave her my own theories on the subject, and then she said: "I think heaven is where I won't make any mistakes in my drawing." I told her that I couldn't possibly improve on that definition.
Anyways, leave a comment if you'd like to be in the running for a free copy of this terrific new album, Great and Small.

Oh and in other musical news, last night I enjoyed a long and lively conversation – about ghosts, haunted houses, Karl Barth, Abraham Kuyper, fireplaces, pickled eggs, and special revelation – with Eric of the indie band Fielding. They have a new album, The Voice of Us, which I've been listening to lately. My favourite song is "Asher" – you can hear on their Myspace page. The album is available from iTunes, Rhapsody, or eMusic.

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