After my three year experience teaching the Christian Scriptures to privileged Jr.Highers in San Francisco, I was doubtful (and still am) of the actual influence the Christian Scriptures have upon the average contemporary young person. It is a well documented fact that biblical literacy is at an all-time low within mainstream American society. Check out Steven Prothero’s book Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—And Doesn’t for a longer discourse on this phenomenon. While the actual coherence of the biblical story may be absent, many still retain the words of Scripture without knowing it. A stockpile of biblical phrases, words, and stories continue to be staunchly embedded within the language of the Western world. I pondered this fact again today while listening to the new Coldplay album Mylo Xyloto. Chris Martin (lead singer) never REALLY has a lot of profound things to say in his music. He generally writes perfectly generic lyrics that represent a stream of consciousness that’s never specific enough to create a great story. But it sure is pretty and well-produced…I like it. Chris Martin may not construct cohesive narrative statements using words, but he does create impressions with the words he uses. Martin’s songs are pictures, not movies. He does feel profound things.
Anyway, On my second listen I started to hear biblical references (pictures) left and right. He has moved from phrases like, “I know St. Peter won’t call my name..,” on the last album Viva La Vida, to saying things like, “My drunken has a Daniel in a lion’s den,” and “The devil as he’s talking with those angel’s eyes/ And I just want to be there when the lightning strikes/ And the saints go marching in.” I will spare you an analysis of all the biblical references contained in Mylo Xyloto…my point is this, the mainstream is still stuck with biblical language and imagery.
Stories start with words.
Words represent stories.
And all of life is a text made up of other texts.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of a text that has perhaps held the most influence within the English language since it was first published. Most devout contemporary Christians consider The King James Bible a stogy relic. But in addition to its lyrical beauty it is a translation that influenced the development of the English language as much as it did the Christian faith. It has even influenced, dare I say it, Chris Martin. None of us English speakers can get away from the Bible. Don’t believe me? Check out this video:
Still not convinced?
How about this one?
Oh, and in case you missed it. This is a pretty rad video from one of the best tunes off of the new Coldplay album…