Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Matthew Myer Boulton

With the launch of 80 Minutes For Life, I have reverted from movies to music, at least temporarily, and naturally switched memberships from Netflix to eMusic -- with the corollary benefit that music is not time-sapping, in the midst of a busy semester, the way movies are -- and thus have an inordinate amount of new music just waiting to be heard. Some of the bands include Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, John Coltrane, Radiohead, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, The Decemberists, Bruce Cockburn, Okkervil River, Patty Griffin, and more. With all that quality music just sitting there -- without a doubt self-consciously legitimizing a sense of musical hipness -- what is the one album I have been listening to more than any of those combined?


I was directed to Harvard theologian Matthew Myer Boulton's band by Ben Myers, and the recommendation was spot on. I won't add to Ben's expert analysis, but just head over to their site and try out some songs, and you'll find yourself similarly hooked to some good ol' folksy children's songs about Jesus, love, family, and creation, too.

Apart from the fun and the real power in the songs, one of my favorite things about the album is that my two favorite Old Testament eschatological images for Christ and the church -- the stories of Jonah and of Noah and the ark -- have their own, wonderful songs dedicated to them. Being that Jonah plays such a large role in my theology and in this blog, I thought it fitting to share Boulton's happy (and insightful!) retelling.

And instead of sharing a poem of my own -- the ink has run dry as of late -- I've paired it with a gorgeous painting by John August Swanson, whose incredible art adorns every hallway of the new main building for the Candler School of Theology.

- - - - - - -

What Jonah Learned Inside the Whale

By Matthew Myer Boulton

Jonah was a man
He used to run away again and again
He sailed across the sea
And yet he ended up just gettin' wet
And now he knows that

There's one thing you can't do
It's run away from love
Love's in every way
And if there's one thing you can do
It's live like love is here to stay
Every day
That's what Jonah learned inside the whale

He learned that whales have no teeth
But they do have great big tongues
And God is underneath
Everything and everyone
That's what Jonah learned inside the whale
And that ain't just one heck of a fish tale

It's testimony that love will never fail
Even down inside a whale


  1. This reminds me of Sufjan Stevens :-).

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