Ice and Fire

What makes me like stuff that I don't

I typically hate sentimental stuff, especially Evangelical sentimental stuff.  Still, sentimentality can carry both truth and beauty when conveyed with skill and genuine sincerity.  This simple, sentimental song from YouTube that may or may not be titled "Pray" has affected me profoundly.

I first encountered this song several months ago, at a meeting of a Christian group in an online roleplaying game.  Since then, the words have come back to my mind much as themes and significant moments from my favorite high fantasy novels and space opera shows come to my mind.  I don't know that I actually like the song as a song.  It's not to my taste.  However, the song inspires truth and realism, and truth itself is beautiful for its own merits.

The song initially appears to be darkly ironic.  As the singer prays for difficulty and worldly failure for her friend, the realization that the song is totally open and up-front in its meaning comes across both as a clever pun and as a visceral shock.

What makes this sentimental little song powerful and transformative is its success in mingling despair with hope, disillusioned realism with idealism.  I think that paradox is the driving force of effective art.  It is also the expression of the truth of the human situation.  That's why truth can be artistic in and of itself, when expressed honestly enough.  The famous speaker's sermon that encloses the actual song in the YouTube video does vastly less for me than the song, but I can see that the presentation of the same truth in the sermon is a form of art.  However, the sermon over-emphasizes certain points, giving the impression of pandering that makes me feel awkward.

In the episode of Battlestar Galactica entitled "Someone to Watch Over Me," Starbuck says that a song that she liked as a child made her feel "happy and sad at the same time."  I can say exactly the same of all the songs, stories, and sermons that have given me the strength to face my vain life.  Truth is always a double-edged sword.


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