Julie Robison is a great young blogger and she’ll be guest blogging here once a week over the next month. She blogs at Corner with a View so please check her out.
In this season of Advent, I’d like to propose a new song to add to the usual Christmas carol repertoire: Rhianna’s latest single, “We Found Love.”
The song is catchy, but to warn the studio audience: the music video is not for PG-rated and is an excellent example of everything Christians profess love not to be. Nonetheless, it is the refrain which caught my attention: “We found love in a hopeless place” is repeated over and over again.
When I first heard the song, I immediately thought of 1 Timothy 1:1, where Paul greets Timothy “by [the] command of God our savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.”
This world can seem like a hopeless place. Catholic persecution is becoming more apparent at home and abroad, the economy is hurting families, infanticide is seen as a choice and not a crime, and the majority of politicians offering themselves to potentially lead our country are a joke.
It is no coincidence that the first week of Advent is hope. It’s more than a campaign slogan: hope is a theological virtue. St. Thomas, in the Summa Theologica, wrote “the object of hope is a future good which is difficult to obtain, yet possible.” This is precisely why we Christians have a whole season devoted to awaiting Christ, whose Incarnation brings joy to the world, peace to all people, and, most importantly, hope.
Carl Olson at Insight Ignatius writes on “The Joyful, Particular Scandal of Advent.” He says:
There is something offensive to many people about Advent and Christmas. It is what Apostle Paul described as a “stumbling block” to Jews and Gentiles alike (1 Cor. 1:18-25). Eastern Orthodox philosopher Richard Swinburne calls it “the scandal of particularity.” It is the belief that God became man at a particular time and in a particular place, and that the God-man, Jesus Christ, is the unique Savior of mankind.
“Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God,” the Catechism states, “is the distinctive sign of Christian faith” (par. 463). It’s hardly news that this belief is often disparaged or dismissed by some non-Christians. Far more perplexing are attempts by Christians to deny the mystery of the Incarnation by rejecting the singular character of Jesus of Nazareth.
Christians are called to be in the world, but not of it. This liturgical season gives us reason to hope in dismal circumstances, and puts a face to that hope too.
The message Rhianna’s music video, perhaps unintentionally, portrays is that this material world is not enough. No level of excitement can ever or truly be fulfilling. Meanwhile, her lyrics look upwards, aspiring for real love. The world she sees is hopeless; but doesn’t the love she finds there suggest some degree of it?
“It’s the feeling I just can’t deny/ But I’ve got to let it go/ We found love in a hopeless place/ We found love in a hopeless place/ We found love in a hopeless place,” sings Rhianna. Well, I can’t deny it either: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
Aquinas finished the section on hope as a virtue by saying, “he who hopes is indeed in respect of that which he hopes to obtain but does not yet possess. But he is perfect in that he already attains his proper rule, that is God, on whose hope he relies.”
O Come, o come Emmanuel!
Note: Please remember to check out Julie’s site and her Twitter as well.
December 14, 2011 at 5:41 am
Look at the Bright Maidens represent'n on CMR!
I really like the song too, and now I have a justifiable reason to do so! 🙂
December 14, 2011 at 7:41 pm
I never would have imagined a Rihanna song would be good fodder for Advent music! But wow, what an excellent point. I haven't heard it yet, but I'm looking forward to listening when the baby wakes up!
December 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm
As Father Robert Barron says: Jesus Christ is Lord and center of all creation. It is time to take creation back to the Lord, Jesus Christ. Julie Robison is making a good start.
December 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm
@Carl Olsen: If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, we have no REAL PRESENCE in the tabernacle. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, we have no salvation. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, we have no hope of eternal life…and who would want to go there anyway, without the Lord, God, Jesus Christ there?
December 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm
@Julie Robison: "This is precisely why we Christians have a whole season devoted to awaiting Christ, whose Incarnation brings joy to the world, peace to all people, and, most importantly, hope." "Peace on earth to men of good will" the angels sang. The men of no good will get no peace.
December 14, 2011 at 9:34 pm
I often pray to secular music – so much of it exposes that longing we all have to find hope and love…. in Christ!
December 14, 2011 at 10:12 pm
I love this! I just posted about finding spiritual themes in pop music too. (Great minds?) And if there is anyone who needs the healing, redemptive love of Christ in her personal life, it's Rhianna.