I wrote this for Interlinc's YLO80 music magazine. It is much less a quality statement of the record and more a short guide how to interact with it in a group setting. I put in a little joke that my editor probably caught and left in. Can you find it?
Album: Smoke and Mirrors
TIYL: Daughtry, Creed, Nickelback, Black Crowes, Scott Stapp, Third Day, Justin Bieber
Reviewer: Kirk Moore
Union Congregational United Church of Christ, Somonauk, Illinois
Some of Lifehouse’s newest project, Smoke and Mirrors, is nice . . . and rough. Some of it is nice . . . and easy. All of it features tight harmonies, catchy rhythms and songs that are almost entirely about relationships. Don’t think, however, that the poetry in this CD is either easy to decipher or direct enough that you can have a discussion about how the relationships can be described as the one between the students and God. The relationships described in the songs are complicated and deserve to be discussed as they are without adding a pre-programmed Bible study to twist the songs into something they are not.
Some songs really worth discussing:
All In is about perseverance. Students may want to talk about persevering in sports or in school or in relationships. They may even want to talk about persevering in faith.
Nerve Damage is about weariness. Great discussions about physical and emotional exhaustion should grow out of listening to this song. Hope would likely be a part of a conversation surrounding this song and God’s restoration and healing can and should be a part of those conversations.
Falling In is about romance. It’s a great opportunity to explore the Bible’s most romantic book, Song of Songs (Or do you say Song of Solomon?)
Wrecking Ball is about abuse. It’s a difficult subject to talk about, but it’s likely that students in your group are either the victim of abuse or know someone who is an abuse victim. In a conversation about this song it is important to stress that God never intended us to abuse one another and that no one ever deserves to be abused. Be prepared to offer resources to students if the need is there.
Play any song for the group, and let the music and the lyrics sink in. Give the students a chance to react without the expectation of a “What does it say in the Bible about this?” answer. It’s OK to introduce Biblical themes into the conversation, but be careful not to inject the Bible just for the sake of making the conversation into a religious one. Instead, learn something from your students and how they experience relationships. Remember what you have learned as you continue to walk with them on their faith journey.