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Derek Webb


Josh Hurst
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Mockingbird gets a cover and a tracklisting!

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1. Mockingbird

2. A New Law

3. A King and a Kingdom

4. I Hate Everything (But You)

5. Rich Young Ruler

6. A Consistent Ethic of Human Life

7. My Enemies Are Men Like Me

8. Zeros & Ones

9. In God We Trust

10. Please, Before I Go

11. Love Is Not Against the Law

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I saw Derek Webb in concert about 6 weeks ago, and he performed several songs from his new CD. The rumers had been going around that this would be a fairly political album, and he confirmed it.

The song that I loved the most is called "New Law". I was sitting there with my mouth hanging open while he was singing it. Here are the lyrics...

A New Law

by Derek Webb

Don’t teach me about politics and government,

Just tell me who to vote for.

And don’t teach me about truth and beauty,

No, just label my music.

And don’t teach me how to live like a free man,

No, just give me a new law.

I don’t want to know if the answers aren’t easy,

So just bring it down from the mountain to me.

I want a new law, I want a new law.

Just give me that new law.

And don’t teach me about moderation and liberty,

I prefer a shot of grape juice.

And don’t teach me about loving my enemies.

And don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit,

No, just give me a new law.

I don’t want to know if the answers aren’t easy,

So just bring it down from the mountain to me.

I want a new law, I want a new law.

Just give me that new law.

Cause what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep

For one you can, that can not get you anything.

So do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid.

Oh, do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid.

(repeat)

Also, as a bonus, you can listen to most of the songs already! w00t.gif Someone recorded two of his shows out in California where he sang quite a few of the new songs, and Derek posted them on his web site. Here are the links...

http://derekwebb.net/multimedia/bootlegs/20051023-Masters

http://derekwebb.net/multimedia/bootlegs/20051022-Oxnard

Check out "New Law" and "My Enemy is a Man like Me". These are all seperated into mp3 files, and they also include all of his talking.

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The rumers had been going around that this would be a fairly political album, and he confirmed it.

The song that I loved the most is called "New Law".  I was sitting there with my mouth hanging open while he was singing it.

Reading those lyrics, they don't strike me at all as "political," or out of keeping with Webb's earlier songs. Challenging, sure; biblical, yeah; but political? Nah.

Thanks for the links. I'll check 'em out.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I, too, heard "A New Law" in concert a few weeks back and was astonished by it.

As for the political nature of the album, Derek mentioned that the theme of the album is going to be the idea of God's kingdom here on Earth-- thus, many of the songs deal with issues of helping the needy, etc. Derek's spiel at the concert came dangerously close to social gospel, and some of his comments about the situation in Africa were well-meaning but theologically incorrect. Still, I expect the album to be timely, challenging, and, for many listeners, a little offensive.

In other words... a Derek Webb album all the way.

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some of his comments about the situation in Africa were well-meaning but theologically incorrect.

Can you elaborate on this, Josh? What were the comments he made, and how were they "theologically incorrect"? I've been tracking the recent spate of CCM artists taking up the cause of AIDS in Africa (just wrote an article about Jars doing so), so I'm curious.

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some of his comments about the situation in Africa were well-meaning but theologically incorrect.

Can you elaborate on this, Josh? What were the comments he made, and how were they "theologically incorrect"? I've been tracking the recent spate of CCM artists taking up the cause of AIDS in Africa (just wrote an article about Jars doing so), so I'm curious.

Sure. Derek essentially used this logic:

1. God calls us to love our neighbor.

2. The neediest part of the world right now is Africa.

3. Thus, God is calling each and every one of us to help the needy in Africa, and failure to do so is a failure to love our neighbor. Giving of your time and money to, say, Hurrican Karina relief efforts, or to the homeless in your own community, is all well and good, but it is superficial compared to helping people in Africa.

So, basically, Derek was championing his cause as the only cause that really matters, and the logic that he used could basiclly apply to anything (ie, my car broke down and I need it to get to work so as to feed my family, thus you are disobeying God's command to love your neighbor if you do not help me pay for my new car).

Hopefully that makes sense.

Edited by Josh Hurst

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Anyone know if Derek still considers himself Calvinistic? There's nothing about his lyrics that makes me think he isn't, but it is unusual, especially within CCM, to be A)Reformed and B)Outspokenly political. To be both things is odder still, but refreshing.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Anyone know if Derek still considers himself Calvinistic? There's nothing about his lyrics that makes me think he isn't, but it is unusual, especially within CCM, to be A)Reformed and B)Outspokenly political. To be both things is odder still, but refreshing.

Yes, I believe Derek still considers himself Reformed. And his Reformed soteriology is still intact. He is a member of a PCA church in Tennessee. However, he seems to be tinkering with his theology to suit his newfound political hobbyhorse (aid to Africa).

As for whether it is refreshing that Derek is becoming outspokenly political, I guess that depends on your political philosophy. biggrin.gif Personally, I'm disappointed that Derek seems to be uncritically swallowing (and regurgitating in his songs) the mainline (liberal) christian, leftist/statist politics of guys like Jim Wallis and Ron Sider. He is certainly not evidencing in his new songs a serious study of the historical Reformed perspective on things like war, peace, government, charity, welfare, etc. Too bad, as Reformed thought has a rich tradition of thinking and writing about these issues. But, it may be that complex Reformed positions in these areas don't lend themselves as well to lefty, pithy protest songs Derek is currently writing.

Edited by Steve Vander Woude

"Do not bury our glorious orthodoxy in the treacherous pit of a spurious conservatism". -- Abraham Kuyper

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However, he seems to be tinkering with his theology to suit his newfound political hobbyhorse (aid to Africa).

Is it impossible to be both Reformed and impassioned about aid to Africa? What about the equally Reformed Jars of Clay and their Blood: Water Mission organization, which I believe was also established as a vehicle for African aid?

I say good for Derek Webb. There's a huge difference between saying "African aid is a leftist cause" and "African aid is a noble cause that, sadly, has been primarily championed by the Left." I think the latter is the truer statement.

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Is it impossible to be both Reformed and impassioned about aid to Africa?  What about the equally Reformed Jars of Clay and their Blood: Water Mission organization, which I believe was also established as a vehicle for African aid?

I say good for Derek Webb.  There's a huge difference between saying "African aid is a leftist cause" and "African aid is a noble cause that, sadly, has been primarily championed by the Left."  I think the latter is the truer statement.

I didn't say it was impossible to be for African aid and Reformed. It certainly is possible.

But, as Josh has helpfully pointed out, the way Derek understands this issue is theologically iffy. That's all I'm saying. And if you listen to some of the other songs on Mockingbird (live bootlegs linked in an earlier post), you'll hear things that, even more than his view on aid to Africa, lead me to shake my head in disappointment. Listen to "My Enemies are Men Like Me" and we can chat some more.

"Do not bury our glorious orthodoxy in the treacherous pit of a spurious conservatism". -- Abraham Kuyper

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Listen to "My Enemies are Men Like Me" and we can chat some more.

When I read the lyrics to that song I found them to be quite challenging, much like Jesus' words. I don't think that total pacifism is fully biblical, but I do believe there's a time and place to ask: "What happened to turning the other cheeck and loving your enemy?" to those who claim they're fighting a war with God on their side.

But hey, maybe that's just my European background speaking ;-)

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Listen to "My Enemies are Men Like Me" and we can chat some more.

When I read the lyrics to that song I found them to be quite challenging, much like Jesus' words. I don't think that total pacifism is fully biblical, but I do believe there's a time and place to ask: "What happened to turning the other cheek and loving your enemy?" to those who claim they're fighting a war with God on their side.

But hey, maybe that's just my European background speaking ;-)

In the passage you quoted Jesus is talking about individual, interpersonal ethics. Not coporate punitive ethics, or international ethics. This biblical distinction is lost on many people, including Derek Webb apparently.

Let's try an experiment. Jesus said if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other to him also. Here's some new, slightly-altered lyrics to "My Enemies are Men Like Me":

It

"Do not bury our glorious orthodoxy in the treacherous pit of a spurious conservatism". -- Abraham Kuyper

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morgan1098 wrote:

: I say good for Derek Webb. There's a huge difference between saying "African aid is

: a leftist cause" and "African aid is a noble cause that, sadly, has been primarily

: championed by the Left." I think the latter is the truer statement.

Eh? I saw nothing in Christian's query about Leftism. He wrote, "it is unusual, especially within CCM, to be A)Reformed and B)Outspokenly political." I assume "outspokenly political" applies to both right and left wings.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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In the passage you quoted Jesus is talking about individual, interpersonal ethics. Not coporate punitive ethics, or international ethics. This biblical distinction is lost on many people, including Derek Webb apparently.

I don't know about Derek (although the lyrics seem to suggest that he believes that there is a right way to wield the sword) but the distinction sure isn't lost on me. As I said I don't think that all out pacifism is biblical. What I'm trying to say is that in my view it's very good to ask yourself if pointing out that difference isn't an easy cop out. To many times I've seen that distinction being used to argue that there is such a thing as a just war and because a just wars exists, waging war on bad people is a always just. I just don't buy that. I think it's very good and biblical to ask why those people are mad at us and try to find others ways of 'overcoming' them.

So, I can appreciate a song like this when viewed as a reaction to the war on terrorism / war in Iraq or whatever, but I sure wouldn't consider the thoughts expressed in this song as words of objective truth...

Edited by Klaas
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I should clarify my earlier post by saying that, from what I've heard of the new album, I don't have any problem with Derek's lyrics. It was strictly his between-song commentary-- including a 15-minute infomercial for Blood:Water Mission!-- that I found to be disappointing.

And don't get me wrong... I think it's GREAT that Derek has a heart for Africa, and I agree with him that it's something that Church should address. I just don't like him talking as though that's the only way-- or even the best way-- to follow the biblical command to love our neighbor. (It seemed especially inappropriate since the comments he made came just days after Hurricane Katrina, and there was no mention whatsoever of helping the American Red Cross, etc.)

Oh, and regarding Webb's Calvinism... he made some fairly direct comments to limited atonement and the doctrine of election, so I assume he's as Reformed as ever in that regard.

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::...you can't take Jesus' words about interpersonal ethics and apply them to governments. It just wouldn't be prudent.

Yes, and we all know that the Kingdom (blast that communal language!) is all about prudence.  Speaking earth-shaking parables to the religious and political leaders, non-violent resistance leading to a brutal death on a cross - all very prudent...

'Blessed are the prudent, for they will be called sons of God.' - oh, wait, it's 'peacemakers'! (Drat! still more of that plural language!)

You're right! Wisdom has nothing to do with the living in the Kingdom of God. Silly me.

"Do not bury our glorious orthodoxy in the treacherous pit of a spurious conservatism". -- Abraham Kuyper

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I've heard that Derek has become really good friends with, and quite influenced by, Donald Miller (of Blue Like Jazz fame), and I think you can definitely see that in some of the more social commentary Derek is delving into. It'll be interesting to see where he's headed.

I wanted to get lost and love the questions there

Beauty and the truth I could breathe like air

--Sam Phillips

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I've heard that Derek has become really good friends with, and quite influenced by, Donald Miller (of Blue Like Jazz fame), and I think you can definitely see that in some of the more social commentary Derek is delving into. It'll be interesting to see where he's headed.

Not surprising; Derek's pretty close with the Jars of Clay guys, and Jars are bringing Miller along as a guest speaker on their latest tour.

Not sure how I feel about Webb being influenced by Miller... Miller's a very good writer and all, but Reformed he ain't. (As far as I know.)

Edited by Josh Hurst

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Wondering if anyone has listened to Mockingbird yet. Mr. Hurst? I'm a bit underwhelmed by the music, and I think Webb has sacrificed artfullness for the sake of a (rather clumsy) political message on many songs. The album seems like a rush job. The two songs I most enjoy are the love songs to his wife, which have a strange (but for me refreshing) place on the album.

"Do not bury our glorious orthodoxy in the treacherous pit of a spurious conservatism". -- Abraham Kuyper

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Wondering if anyone has listened to Mockingbird yet. Mr. Hurst? I'm a bit underwhelmed by the music, and I think Webb has sacrificed artfullness for the sake of a (rather clumsy) political message on many songs. The album seems like a rush job. The two songs I most enjoy are the love songs to his wife, which have a strange (but for me refreshing) place on the album.

I'm not crazy about the album either. More than any other album he's done, this one makes it sound like Derek cares about what he's saying but not about how he's saying it. The production is at times deliberately artsy at the expense of the melodies, and the uniform tempos and arrangements make the whole affair a tad dreary. The love songs are pretty but out of place, and some of the political stuff is oversimplified and manipulative.

There ARE some good songs-- "A New Law" and "King and a Kingdom" are, if nothing else, challenging and convicting. But the album overall is frustratingly muddled and unsatisfying.

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  • 8 months later...

There ARE some good songs-- "A New Law" and "King and a Kingdom" are, if nothing else, challenging and convicting. But the album overall is frustratingly muddled and unsatisfying.

I wanted to pull this thread up, as I listen to a "Derek Webb" channel on Pandora. The first couple of songs I heard off "Mockingbird" were, I thought, quite good, which made me wonder if you guys had reconsidered the album, or if my first impressions were faulty. Now I see that those couple of songs have already been singled out as the good tunes off this CD, so I won't move it up my "to buy" list.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I wanted to pull this thread up, as I listen to a "Derek Webb" channel on Pandora. The first couple of songs I heard off "Mockingbird" were, I thought, quite good, which made me wonder if you guys had reconsidered the album, or if my first impressions were faulty. Now I see that those couple of songs have already been singled out as the good tunes off this CD, so I won't move it up my "to buy" list.

In my opinion, this is Derek's best album. While I love his other two solo studio albums, this is the one that I really connected with most, both lyrically and musically.

That said, if you want to hear the whole album, you don't have to buy it. So far, it has sold around 25,000 copies. Five weeks ago, Derek started giving away the whole album for free on www.freederekwebb.com, and as of a week ago it has already been download 38,000 times. The offer lasts until December, I think.

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