Devotion in Motion: Be still and hear the hook

1 ¶ Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Bear with me today. It’s a little complicated, but we’re heading somewhere….

icecream bucket wise manEvery December I have 90 minutes in which I can’t move. All I can do is think. You see, at Christmastime I am one of the three wise men in the drive-thru nativity at the Newton United Methodist Church. I dress in a robe and wear a satin-covered-Ford’s-ice-cream-bucket on my head. As characters in the diorama, we’re supposed to remain entirely motionless so that we don’t spoil the “effect” for the audience. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting my body to stand still. Now, if I could only get my mind to do likewise.

This past December I had a funny realization during the hour-and-a-half that I was one of the immobile-three-kings-of-Orient-are. The outdoor speakers were playing Christmas carols to accompany the manger scenes; the songs were on a “loop” and repeated every few minutes. One of the songs was “Pachelbel’s Canon in D.”

I love that song. But since I was required to stand still, it was the first time in my life I had ever had time to think about the melody. And the third time the song repeated I said to myself, “I’m sure I’ve heard this tune before on the radio, as part of a pop song.”

The longer I stood there, the surer of it I became. I began to rack my brain. What was the pop song that has the same tune as Pachelbel’s Canon?

The fourth time through the bridge it dawned on me: “What a minute, it’s the song that Emma Stone lip synced when she did battle with Jimmy Fallon!”

I realized that it was a song I liked very much — “The Hook” by Blues Traveler.

I still had 48 minutes left to go (as a part of the paralyzed Magi) so I began to reflect on the lyrics of this song:

It doesn’t matter what I say
So long as I sing with inflection
That makes you feel I’ll convey
Some inner truth or vast reflection
But I’ve said nothing so far
And I can keep it up for as long as it takes
And it don’t matter who you are
If I’m doing my job then it’s your resolve that breaks

Because the hook brings you back
I ain’t tellin’ you no lie
The hook brings you back
On that you can rely

(Read more: Blues Traveler – Hook Lyrics | MetroLyrics)

I laughed to myself when I realized what an excellent job Blues Traveler had done in constructing their song (and proving their point):

1)      They didn’t even write a new tune. They just stole an old one that everyone knows.

2)      They didn’t say anything new or true. In fact they told us that they are “being insincere.”

3)      They told us all they needed was a catchy guitar line, a riff, i.e., “the hook.’ And if they had that, well, we’d listen to the song over and over and eventually buy their CD.

If you think about it, there’s really a valuable lesson here for all of us Christians. Not everything “new” that we’re told is actually new. Not everything “true” that we’re told is actually true. Much of what we see and hear in the mainstream media is simply “catchy”—and often it’s a shameless attempt to get us to “buy in.” We have to be careful to use discernment in evaluating what we hear.

Well, another 10 months to go before I’m in the nativity scene again. I wonder what lesson I’ll learn this year?

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 30 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where Madeline laughed when the Preacher told her this story.) Their kids include Spencer (age 24), his wife Madeline (age 24), and Seth (age 21). You can send him a note at