Answering the voices of despair and helplessness

The New York Times was reporting on recent trends in popular music. It was a sobering account, headlined "Pop's Angry Voices Sound the Alarm." Much of the current music is vocally expressing a growing sense of alienation and futility about social issues, reflecting what many other people are feeling inwardly about the enormously difficult challenges facing the world today. Musicians such as John Cougar Mellencamp, Tracy Chapman, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, and Randy Newman are among those voicing the concerns.

As the Times report stated, "The range of voices—despairing, angry, sorrowful and ironic, from London to Los Angeles—mirrors an increasing fragmentation and deepening sense of helplessness." The Times also observed, "Rather than purveyors of hope, today's songwriters tend to be prophets of rage who can only rail about conditions for which there seem to be no solutions." The New York Times, May 21, 1989.

There can be little question that this element in popular music is reflecting a wider malaise. And, in fact, it may be more important than we realize that there are those who are willing to "sound the alarm," even if with angry voices. But are despair, helplessness, a sense of inadequacy to meet the broad global and personal challenges of our day, all that's left to society?

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Our prayers can help refugees
October 30, 1989

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