Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Where Is the Love In Secular Songs and In Society?

If song titles containing the word, “love,” are any indication, there has been a shift in the postmodern ra in what is on the collective hearts and minds of Americans. We must again ask, as Roberta Flack did back in the day, where is the love?
The decades of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s each saw a decline over the previous decade in love-titled popular songs on the year-end charts. However, at least 100 love-titled songs made the charts all three decades.The first decade of the new millennium saw the fewest number of songs in 50 years containing the word “love” in the title on the Billboard Top 100 year-end charts. From 2000 to 2010 only 44 songs with “love” in the title appeared on the Billboard year end charts compared to an average of 92.4 songs per decade for the previous five decades. Could it be as Rose Royce sang in 1978, "Love Don't Live Here Anymore?" (http://www.bobborst.com/popculture/love-songs/more-love-songs.asp).

It has been said that if you want to change the culture, change the music. Songs today speak less about love and much more about sex, lust, and self gratification. To change popular music though, there must be a renewing of the mind.    In the piece, "The Purpose of Christian Education," Rev. Eugene A. Blair states in the Urban Ministries Inc. (UMI) Precepts for Living 2013-2014 commentary,
"Christian Education must help believers unlearn wrong ideas about love. People have many different ideas and thoughts about love. Love is often confused with sex and sex with commitment. The radio fills the airways with songs about the hope, sorrow, joy, and tragedy of love. But usually all of these thoughts ideas, and songs fall short of the deep, rich and abiding qualities of love we learn about in Scripture (1 Corinthian 13). If Christian education is to liberate believers, it must liberate them from the woeful and lacking ideas about love today" ( Ogbonnaya, Precepts for Living, 2013-2014, p. 299).
At least a few philosophers saw a day coming, with less love in songs and in society. With the critically acclaimed book, The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis saw in the 1940s a coming age of brute beast, people who although intelligent lacked the heart and character to act responsibility and make godly decisions. Lewis was one of the most accomplished Christian authors of the modern era, and The Abolition of Man, one of his most highly debated works.

Author David Vandrunen made a similar observation 2009.  In the book, Bioethics and the Christian Life Vandrunen stated that if Christians are “the wrong sort of people when a particular bioethical dilemma confronts them, then they are much less likely to respond in the right manner (Vandrunen, 2009, p. 70)” Vandrunen saw five virtues as being necessary for proper decision making, faith, hope, contentment, wisdom, and love. “The whole Christian life must be a process of striving after the virtues to which Scripture calls us. God indeed uses crises in order to build character, but he also builds character beforehand for the purpose of bringing us through crises” (Vandrunen, 2009, p. 70).

Educator and philosopher Cornel West has defined postmodernism as “the age of the American Empire alongside corporate globalization” (West, 2008, p. 221). He, too, pointed to a loss of values as a critical malady of this postmodern age. In the book, Hope on a Tightrope, West stated, “For the first time in black history, there are no viable institutions and structures in black American life that can effectively transmit values like hope, virtue, and sacrifice – institutions that put the needs of others higher than those of oneself (West, 2008, p. 174.) Are these three philosophers right? Is society becoming increasing void of virtue, including the greatest of these, love? 

Is this cursory (and unscientific) music search of love-titled secular songs symptomatic of a real trend?  In an age when more money is being spent on Valentine's Day, is society less loving than in previous decades? Whose responsibility is it to teach virtue, parents/family, school, church, media and society? 


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