Good for the Soul


I have a not-so-secret confession to make – I love classic soul music. Sure, I recognize that some may think I should listen to more respectable if not conventional music. Stan and Keith listen to the arias, Rodger is rather fond of Broadway tunes, and Andy listens to country. I certainly do not have a problem with their iPod playlists, but if I were on a deserted island, give me the music of Marvin Gaye, Barry White and Luther Vandross!

This genre of musically is usually labeled as “rhythm and blues” but most everyone knows it is “soul music” plain and simple. Good soul music sings of love lost and love gained. When I hear Ray Charles sing “Georgia” I smell red clay and green pines and love growing up in this state. When Marvin Gaye sings “Mercy Me” I long for an imagined past of better times. And Amy and I cannot help dancing in the kitchen when Barry White croons “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.”

Nearly all good soul music is rooted in love. In fact, all good music is rooted in love. Music speaks to our heart’s longings, our desires, and our hopes. When George Jones wails “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” we don’t have to have the same experience to identify with the song. Love lost and love gained connects us.

No wonder that Paul the apostle described love as the greatest gift. We are shaped and given life because of God’s generous love. We love and are loved. It is what we desire and it is what we need. Love is the foundational mission of our lives and of our church. Imagine how all our relationships would be transformed if we rooted them in a solid love ethic. Imagine how this would shape how we treat our neighbors – next door and across the globe. Just imagine!

Dorothy Day put it succinctly in The Long Loneliness : “The final word is love.” It is good for the soul.


Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

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