So Lilly Allen has this Song called 'the fear' which is pretty much the zeitgeist of the moment. It is a deeply spiritual song questioning the way things are. It critiques western culture, and highlights the inadequacies and meaninglessness of our world. In several ways it feels like a re-interpretation of Ecclesiastes...
Each verse critiques the way our society functions.
Verse one picks up on our sense of shamelessness and how we will de-value ourselves in the pursuit of fame and money.
Verse two talks about the emptiness of our consumer lifestyles and the dangerous implications of them, saying that 'we are weapons of massive consumption'.
The third verse challenges our individualism and our lack of care concerning anything beyond ourselves.
The centre of the song describes a sense of not knowing what is right, of not knowing what is real or even how to feel. The song questions whether there is any morality in our world. It asks 'What is right', and comes to the conclusion that perhaps we can't know. Is this an outburst against the confusion caused by the multiple truth claims or our society and the idea of personal truth? Is it highlighting the longing we have for truth? Is it a cry of dissatisfaction with the idea of relative truth?
As such, the song expresses a sense of lostness or trappedness. It hungers after a longing for clarity in life, a sense of liberation from the prison of fear of being different, of breaking out of societies expectations. Perhaps we are all taken over by the fear, afraid to live radically different lives. Perhaps we do not even know what radical looks like in our time. Does this song also critique our hedonistic culture? Is it expressing a sense that we have become numb to experience? Is it saying that feelings are not enough, that they are shallow and disappear quickly?
Is this a cry of a generation who have been robbed of hope, life and meaning?
Ecclesiastes critiqued the same ideas. However, rather than centering around lostness it centres around hope in God. Is the chorus of this cultural critique the idea that we find ourselves as we stand in awe of God? Is this a liberating fear? Have we put our fear or our awe in the wrong place, around things that trap us? The conclusion to Ecclesiastes states 'fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of humanity'. Perhaps we should be taken over by the fear... But it is a different fear... it is a deep awe of God... a relational fear of knowing the Almighty... of drawing near to listen to him (Ecclesiastes 5:1).