On my way to church today I was listening to The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths. Apart from the nostalgia I always feel when listening to The Smiths (and many other new-wave era bands that formed the soundtrack to much of my teenage experience) and the profound influence this album has had on scores of artists since its release in 1986 (!) — check out My Old Kentucky Blog to see how many bands have covered There Is A Light That Never Goes Out — there are a couple of lyrics that good ol’ Moz penned for this album that cut deep, for followers of Christ in particular. To wit, from the song Frankly, Mr. Shankly:

Fame, fame, fatal fame / It can play hideous tricks on the brain

But still I’d rather be famous / Than righteous or holy / Any day, any day, any day

Most of the time, I think we strive for the right things — humility, servanthood, authenticity, community, love — but it’s so easy to value and uphold fame over righteousness or holiness. Fame is obvious and easy to quantify; not always the case with either holiness or righteousness. Sure, there are probably cases where people become famous because of their holiness or righteousness, but our subculture’s fixation on fame is troubling.

And, as long as we’re traveling together through this album, Moz hits close to home with this lyric from I Know It’s Over:

It’s so easy to laugh / It’s so easy to hate

It take strength to be gentle and kind / Over, over, over, over

Kind of flies in the face of the myth of redemptive violence, which David over at Next Gener.Asian has been exploring lately [read Lost In Translation? here]. The way up is the way down; if we want to be great, we must become small; the first shall be last and the last shall be first — that is, until push comes to shove and what we really believe kicks in.

I still get hits from this post from awhile back about lyrics from the latest Arcade Fire album, “Been working for the church while your life falls apart.” Uncomfortably close to the reality many of us in vocational minstry live out everyday.

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Relive the glory days of The Smiths below!