Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday's Weekly Rap Up - September 20, 2013 - "Homecoming" by Derek Minor

"Homecoming" - Derek Minor

Minorville, by Derek Minor, was released last week. There are some great songs on this record, with my initial favorite being "We Are Champions". I've still got more intent listening to do, but the overall theme of the album intrigues me. As an urban planner, I am interested in anything that has to do with cities. So, when you see a cover like Minorville's, it demands attention. As a City of Houston employee, and having worked for other municipalities in the past, I can assure you that no city is flawless. The fictional Minorville is no exception. (I suppose my life would be Andrewsville, and would probably contain more parks than Minorville, but urban design is another topic for another time!) The album takes some of its inspiration from "Pleasantville", a 1998 movie starring Toby Maguire. It parallels the lives that we lead, lives that on the exterior are attractive and free from pain or tarnish. However, when you delve deeper, that's not the case at all.

While "We Are Champions" might be my favorite-sounding track, "Homecoming" may be the most moving track from Minorville. Chronicling the story of Katie, an All-American homecoming queen, "Homecoming" starts off with Katie praying that she would be "forever used for God's glory", but then enters into a sexual relationship, ultimately facing pregnancy, single motherhood, drug use and all of the chaotic effects of these. Now, this is a specific example, and is not descriptive of everyone that has experienced premarital sex or drug use. There is a much greater context to this example.

The middle of the song is dark, but the Lord eventually works through Katie, who is led back to the Lord, and is reminded of our dependence on Him. The greater context to this song is that Katie is shown how glorious the forgiveness and redemption of God are in the gospel. He longs for relationship with us.

Given my experience in college basketball and athletic ministry, I was reminded of this song this week when reading a recent Grantland story, by Jonathan Abrams, about Korleone Young, a former NBA player from Kansas. this was an excellent article, so if you have the time, give it a read. Young was a high-school phenom who opted to forgo collegiate athletics, and jumped right into the NBA draft, which proved to be quite a large miscalculation. Young eventually is drafted by the Detroit Pistons, but only plays in three games, for a total of 15 minutes. Then, much like the fictional Katie in "Homecoming", experiences a spiral of circumstances that led him to drugs and partying, and further from the court, and his NBA dreams.

After a series of overseas stints in Australia, Russia, China, Young was getting further from his dream of playing in the NBA. Abrams writes, "He started to think of himself as a victim. He drank. He smoked. He partied. He struggled with depression, wracked by the mistakes he'd made." Young has children that live here in the Houston area, and wishes he could be present in their lives, but feels he can't, since he cannot afford to move to Houston. It hurts me to hear Young say that he will always be a "daddy from a distance". Being present in a child's life is the most important thing a parent can do for a child, something that Young didn't have. Korleone, please reconsider! Please reconsider what Pastor Hicks said! You say you want to work with kids? Please start with your own! 

Young was a victim of circumstance at a party, having nearly been shot. Young says, "I hope I'm going up there. The land of no hurt. I don't want to sound crazy or nothing. I'm not ready to leave this earth. But when I do leave, I want to leave on the right accord."

Korleone, the Lord is ready to use you for His glory, just like Pastor Hicks says, and just like Katie in "Homecoming". Don't just hope that you'll be in heaven, be assured. You aren't crazy at all for having that hope.

When I heard this song, I couldn't help but think of something that is addressed in 1 Peter 1:10-12. Pastor Dods Pengra covered this at Sojourn a few weeks ago in "Together in Revelation". In verse 12, Peter tells us that angels long to look at the glories of God that were announced to us. Angels long to look at the glory that comes from redemption. If you're a Christian, just let rattle around in your brain for a second. I will admit, I do not have a robust theology of angels. But scripture makes it painfully clear that there is some aspect of our lives that even angels look down and desire to be a part of.

Angels long to look at the glorious redemption that takes place in our lives, much like the story of Katie in "Homecoming", and hopefully like the life of a former NBA player and high-school phenom, Korleone Young. The Lord calls us to himself, no matter what our past holds, and that is our true "Homecoming".

Be sure to download Minorville here.