Mumbling Mumford

The new Mumford and Son’s album (Babel) is out. I’ve been giving it a whirl, and seeing what people paid to think about this kind of stuff are saying. The A.V. Club has a review that ends up sounding mostly like “Meh”, but with one important difference.

At the end of the article, the last sentence in fact, Davis Inman drops this line:

“It’s not hard to get the feeling that Marcus Mumford has spent his whole life reading the language of the Bible without stopping to think for a second about what any of it means.”

That line got to me.

As an artist and person of faith, it left me wondering how true that might be in my own life. How often have I used the language, traded in the images from the Bible, without digging deeper? The Bible, and Biblical language, is embedded in our culture; even if we don’t believe in Jesus Christ, we still use his name when we’re stuck in traffic or when someone scares us. But to go to the Bible for its language, metaphors or stories as source material (consciously or unconsciously) without examining what it means does a disservice. At the least it earns derision, as it does Marcus Mumford in the Inman review.

I wasn’t expecting to find any sort of challenge to the way I engage a sacred text in a review from the AV Club, but I guess that just proves that God can show up anywhere (or that Davis Inman knows more than he’s letting on?). It also proves there’s value (and, I think, necessity) in taking stock of the language we use and ensuring we know the weight of that language. There’s a thin line between using great language and using great language well — the trick is to know the difference.

I, for one, am still trying to figure that out.

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