The Captain of My Soul

To be honest, I used to not care too much about books like Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. As someone who is always trying to find answers to everything, I tended to view Christianity as a list of beliefs, a series of truth propositions. And although Christianity is a list of beliefs, it is not ONLY a list of beliefs. The Bible is not predominantly a list of creeds. Much of it consists of stories, proverbs, and songs. Much of it has to do with emotion and experience.

I believe that the theologizing and systematizing of Christianity among many circles today has stripped the faith of its emotional and experiential nature. In some cases, the slightest sign of any negative emotion is immediately seen as sin. And any sort of spiritual experience is immediately branded as mysticism, Pentecostalism, heresy, etc.

This sort of thinking has also influenced the realm of Christian music. Much of Christian music consists of declarative statements of truth, founded on the principles that such songs have the power to break deceptive thinking. And I think those are necessary. It is very easy for humans to believe lies that need to be corrected. But I also believe that Christian music can be more than truth declarations.

For example, it’s okay if a song brings up all sorts of problems that are left unanswered (check out Ecclesiastes). It’s okay if a song describes negative emotions (like fear or abandonment) that do not seem to reflect a solid, unmovable relationship with God (check out the Psalms). It’s okay if a song doesn’t even mention God (check out Esther).

In that light, I recently wrote and recorded this song. I was inspired by a poem by William Ernest Henley called Invictus, which ends with the lines, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” The poem exhorts that the individual self has the power to resist, to advance, and to conquer. However, this self-confidence seemed to stand in stark contrast with my own experience, which has often felt very purposeless and gridlocked. I have found myself wondering, “Where is the captain of my soul?”

Intellectually, I know that God is the captain of my soul. I know that he loves me. I know that he will never leave me nor forsake me. I know that he will work things out for my good. But emotionally, I sometimes find myself feeling apathetic, lazy, or fake.

This is my attempt to put that feeling into a song.

https://larrylin.bandcamp.com/track/the-captain-of-my-soul

==

I can’t even recall how this heart hit cruise control
All I know is that this engine’s dying in the cold
I thought this ship was headed for a sea of glass
But this machine is headed straight into this siren trap

Where is the captain of my soul?
Where is the captain of my soul?

Every now and then when nobody would see
I would step inside my golden cage and make believe
All of life was just a game that I could manipulate
And the line between the real and fake would fade away

My heart was such an easy sell
I had it convinced that all was well


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