I am outing myself by writing this. I know that. And I also know that my boss or someone may read this and wonder why I am blogging about Eminem. (Then they may ask me to remove the post–ha!) All that is well and good. And expected. The truth is this: I like Eminen. I also love Andrew Peterson.
I know music is very polarizing. And especially certain genres. In fact, it may seem very funny for me to mention Andrew Peterson and Eminem in the same sentence (sorry if that offends EITHER artist), but not to me. . .
Since I was a junior in high school I have listened to, shared, and tried to learn as many Andrew Peterson songs as possible. In fact I was at dinner with a friend tonight and told him that he needed to buy every Peterson album available. When his Far Country album went on sale, I bought 30 of them to hand out to friends. I’m also the guy who had to sucker the Dean of Students at Dallas Seminary into letting me use a significant portion of student council funds to bring Andrew Peterson to campus for a brief (and small) lunch concert. The truth is, I really did all that so we could have a burger together at the Angry Dog in Dallas. Mission accomplished.
I am not sure when I started to listen to Eminem, but I have never told someone to buy his albums, nor have I ever tried to go to his concert, nor have I tried to bring him in for a concert at Dallas Seminary (but I wonder if more people would’ve shown up to that). Still, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the guy’s career. So storied. So troubled. So incredibly successful.
But why do I listen to both?
I believe all music tells a story. And I believe that Christ can redeem any story. Any. And without His redemption, no story would matter. At all. Everyone, big or small, is born with the stench of death in his or her nostrils. But Jesus can redeem it all and breathe life into it.
Eminem and Andrew Peterson are both storytellers (and both creative ones at that). Most storytellers (Eminem included) get bogged down on the front end of the story: people crying out for redemption, people trying to fix their lives, people who know things are broken but are stuck in the same hopeless cycle. And billions of people all over the world are singing the same song. That’s what makes Eminem so incredibly popular. Case in point: Eminem’s “Not Afraid” video (about his recovery from drug addiction) from his most recent album has over 186 million views on YouTube.
Why? Because people know what it’s like to feel pain and try and clean their lives up on their own. But far fewer know the impossibility of such a notion, and even fewer know what to do about it.
However, Peterson tells the rest of the story. The story of God’s ferocious love to redeem His people through His son. And He knows that is the Story which gives perspective to all others. He knows the thrill of redemption and the triumph of Christ’s victory over death for our sin. And He writes about it with a kind of insight and creativity that warms the heart and ignites hope.
If I had to choose one artist to listen to the rest of my days, it would, without hesitation, be Peterson. Both men know what it is like to feel hurt and be caught up in a world of pain. But only one knows what it is like to hope in the fact that it will one Day hurt no more.
And knowing that story makes everything different.
(Peterson’s “Dancing in the Mine Fields” about the joys of marriage. Filled with hope.)