The Common Grace of Rock & Roll

Posted: January 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

I had the great privilege twenty years ago of working for songwriters/producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  If you don’t know who Jerry and Mike are they are true godfathers of rock & roll.  Jerry and Mike wrote songs like “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock” and wrote and produced tracks like “Stand by Me,” “Love Potion #9,” “Yakety Yak,” etc.

I worked after school as a production and publishing assistant that researched current television and film productions that might use a song written and owned by Jerry & Mike.  They treated me very well and often sat down with me and entertained my questions about the early days of rock & roll.  

One of the fascinating discussions we had concerned the social impact rock & roll had in the ’50’s and ’60’s.  America was deeply divided by racism at the time.  Yet, rock & roll thanks to venerated black artists like Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Ray Charles, etc.  helped heal that racial divide.  Millions of white teens help put America on the road to becoming a post-racial nation. 

Chuck Berry told Carl Perkins that rock & roll was doing more to bring the country together than the politicians in D.C.  He was right. What is sad is that rock & roll did more to bring blacks and whites together than the church did! 

Now, I don’t believe that Jerry, Mike, Fats Domino, Richie Valens, etc. were the sole instruments of this healing.  I have a high enough view of divine providence that God worked through the music to bring black and white together.  Now, I am not saying that God approved of everything the music stood for.  Jerry Leiber pointed out to me that sex was THE underlying theme running through all early rock & roll but I don’t think God approves of the horrendous violence perpetrated by Assyria when it sacked Israel but Scripture states explicitly that He was the one who moved the pagan armies against His own people.

Theopedia states, “Common Grace is a theological concept…referring to the grace of God that is either common to all humankind, or common to everyone within a particular sphere of influence (limited only by unnecessary cultural factors). It is “common” because its benefits are experienced by, or intended for, the whole human race without distinction between one person and another. It is “grace” because it is undeserved and sovereignly bestowed by God. In this sense, it is distinguished from the Calvinistic understanding of “special” or “saving” grace, which extends only to those whom God has chosen to redeem.”

Common grace comes in many ways even in the so-called “devil’s music” that helped bring many young people of different races together.

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Comments
  1. This is completely off topic but I respect your opinion a lot and I know you are well read.

    Currently I am reading through the book “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas for pre-maritial counseling.

    Have you read this book before? If so, what are your thoughts?

    • Revolution says:

      Alex, I haven’t read it, bro. Sorry. It’s a little thick but I like “The Family” by Jack & Judy Balswick if for no other reason than their argument that too many people define love as being loved rather than loving. I think that’s one of the biggest problems in marriage–too many go in thinking all about what they will get and not what they must give. Does that make sense? Blessings, bro.

      • It does make sense! You may want to pick up Sacred Marriage if you get a chance on your busy reading schedule. I am about half way in and it is solid stuff!

        I’ll check out “The Family” as well. Sounds like a great read!

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