Last night I took my children to a Linnea Good concert. Linnea Good is a United Church singer, songwriter and storyteller. I took my very-atheist children to her concert because her music was a big part of my teenage years. This was my second time attending a concert of hers, and the first was way back when I was younger than my oldest is now.
So, why was the music meaningful to me? I think the most amazing meaningful part was that Linnea was willing to show some of her own vulnerability. She talked about how after thirty years of performing she’s really good at being nice, but that she knows it is important to not just prioritize being nice. She advocated speaking up on things. That’s something I struggle with too. I like writing online because online I tend to tell my opinions, whereas when I’m with people I tend to be hesitant to express thoughts I think those are with might disagree with. But I need to learn to speak up.
She mentioned climate change and the Canadian election. It was subtle. She wasn’t talking party politics or who people should have voted for or anything. It was subtle, but it was there. She loves the world. She sees it as God’s creation and wants to protect it. She sounded scared a bit for the future and how things are, yet hopeful.
Or maybe I’m just reading that into her concert, because I want to believe it. I want to see this professional whom I have long looked up to as sharing the same vulnerabilities I feel.
Success and vulnerabilities doesn’t seem to go together. If a person is a successful professional they’re not supposed to speak of vulnerabilities, are they? She did. Linnea Good spoke about how to her the Bible is a book filled with underqualified people. Moses was hesitant to speak. David killed for his affair. (She’s got a song about this.) It is okay to be imperfect.
She had another song about life being mostly good. “The roads been mostly bumpless. The loads been mostly light. The task is mostly worthy. The map is mostly right. What more could I ask for? What more could there be? A lightish load, a worthy load, lucky me.”
I was there with my children. They had a lot of thoughts about everything, so we passed notes back and forth and discussed things a lot afterwards. The religious language of her songs was foreign to them and at times uncomfortable for them. They contrasted a song she sang about the miracles of God’s creation with a line they like from Tim Minchin’s song “Storm” where he celebrates being a “tiny, insignificant, ignorant bit of carbon” with one life that is “short and unimportant” but still amazing. To me, there isn’t a contradiction between those two. Both people are celebrating the miracle of life that they understand in different terms.
Another example is that one of my kids had trouble with the song about the imperfection of life. Afterwards at home we had a wonderful discussion about it. The idea of something being “mostly true” was a problem for him. To me, that is a comfort. I can tend to see multiple sides to an issue. I play devils advocate with myself (and with everyone else, my son reminded me) and so I need to accept “mostly true” as good enough.
They disagreed with her on many points but still enjoyed her wonderful music and storytelling. My daughter’s eyes lit up when she heard God described of as “she.” And since I had been shushing my children throughout the concert, she smiled when during a slide-show of Linnea’s missionary trip to India there was a picture of two little girls with one shushing the other! My daughter looked at me and grinned at that picture and put her finger to her mouth. The same symbol used a half a world away!
My oldest had trouble with the idea of a missionary trip to India. My kids have heard about the problems of missionary trips, with wealthy white people going to try to save poor people and at the same time convert them. Afterwards I had to assure them that Linnea Good is talking about Christianity with communities that are already Christian. She is offering workshops on storytelling and such to them that she offers to Canadians. She’s bringing song and music to them that she brings here. It isn’t like the times when totally unskilled and unqualified people go places to try to do something elsewhere they would be totally unqualified to do here. Moreover, I trust this particular woman to be aware of all the complications of life and the difficulties of good intentions.
But my kids are passionate and they think about everything and they analyze everything, so human interactions are hard for them, as human interactions are for me.