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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Eminem, Sacraments, and Poetry V


In the last blog I said, "At base level, I think it comes down to a kind of artful honesty and self-awareness." That's it. Something begins to border on the spiritual when we make that connection between the deep emotional responses of our experience and the story of goodness and evil that play beneath the fabric of reality. We deeply resonate and respond out of these cries of the heart whether we realize it or not. Those who realize it, pay attention to it, and even speak it are entering into a sacred space where they being to wrestle with God consciously or not. that's what I mean by sacramental. And that's what happens with Eminem. As an outsider, listening to his poetry, I can resonate with it even when I haven't had the experiences he has because [again, echoing Bachelard] there is a reverberation of my soul with his through both of our connection to the deeper reality - the songs playing beneath the fabric of life.And so this is what happened. A couple of years ago I was driving in my car listening to music. Bored with whatever was on NPR, I switched over to a Detroit hip-hop station when an Eminem song came on. I pumped it up because of the phenomenal sounds and the movement, and began to allow myself to be "carried away" by the poetry. It was the song, "Cleanin' Out My Closet." [If you don't know it, you can listen to it or see a live video at] Being a follower of Jesus and a believer in confession and clarity about the good, the bad, and the ugly, I was impressed by his honesty. The brokenness that he could deeply emote was raw and unnerving. It made be feel ashamed of the confession we had spoken on the previous Sunday in monotone, half-hearted expression that we had sinned in deep and profound ways against God and others. It made that feel pale and shallow. And here was someone who was really saying it, really putting it out there, really allowing his stuff to be public. And there I was, driving through downtown Ann Arbor, Pastor of a Christian, weeping because of an Eminem song. Why? Because my soul ached with the pain of creation groaning. I could feel what the first century writer Paul said in his letter to the Romans -

"The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." [NIV]

Mathers, whether he would say it that way, feels this in his soul and speaks it with power, and I felt it. My heart and soul reverberated, and it made me want to "respond in kind." [Hirsch]

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