Sentimentality: My take

I read an article for my Music in Worship class a while ago that I’ve turned back to for my final essay. The assignment was to write about our own theology of music. It’s a rather scary assignment, but maybe not as scary as “Write about anything,” which was an assignment for my creative writing class. As I’ve talked some about my basic theology of music before on here I won’t go into too much detail, but my take is that almost all music can be used for worship. I believe that even songs by the Beatles or whoever can be used as long as the lyrics are “good” and directed at God when one is singing them. You can check out more of my opinion on this in older posts.

Anyway, the article I read was about sentimentality and it’s relation to art and music. The writer was using a slightly different definition of sentimentality than I think a lot of people are used to, so I’ll briefly explain. His (Jeremy Begbie’s) explanation was that sentimentality is essentially emotions without objects or emotions that are self-directed. He explained that the sentimental person loves to feel things such as guilt or pity because they are the correct things to feel in certain situations. They do not actually pity the person they are “grieving” for, but take delight in the fact that they can exhibit the correct emotional response.

Begbie also said that the sentimental person will not take the appropriate action even though they can exhibit this emotional response. For example, a sentimental person will get teary eyed at those commercials about starving children in Africa but will not actually do anything because they do not want the object of their emotion (i.e. the starving children) to be eliminated.

This worries me for a few reasons. I hate those commercials. They make me so depressed. I usually change the channel or turn the TV off altogether if one of them comes on. I don’t know why, but in the past few years I’ve become much more emotional. I never used to cry about sad movies, but now I cry all the time. I cried when Dobby died for Pete’s sake! The obvious solution would be to donate money to one of those organizations. I don’t however and my reasoning for that is because “I don’t have the money.” Hear me out on this. My thinking is that sure it doesn’t cost much, but I don’t have a job and at some point I will run out of money, at which point I will feel ridiculously guilty about stopping my payments. I keep telling myself that as soon as I get a job I’ll do it, but I want to do something now.

I’ve always had a bit of a “gonna save the world” complex, as I’ve probably mentioned before. I worry that my new found emotional tendencies are just sentimentality. As I said I wasn’t always emotional. In fact, when I was younger I tried very hard to suppress my emotions partly, I think because I was too proud to let people know I was upset and partly because I’ve always felt like it was important for me to be strong for other people. I think coming to faith might have had something to do with me becoming more openly emotional because it was okay to cry to God. I still need to get over feeling a little like a Whiney pain in the neck when I do.

The other issue is that there are just so many problems in this world from poverty to hate crimes to slavery that I often feel like there’s nothing I can do anyway. My hope is that I can use my music as a platform to try and work at some of these problems, but I have to get my music going somewhere first and that’s taking a lot longer than I had hoped. I guess I’m just impatient.

Well anyway, thanks for reading. I’ve probably complained about this kind of thing before, so I apologize for the redundancy. Comments would be appreciated. If you’ve read this whole thing you get 8,000 awesome points!

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