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Derek Webb
[ i see things upside down ]


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I See Things Upside Down - Click to view!Let's say an album came out that took a giant index finger and pointed at the darkest part of your heart. Let's say it took everything considered normal and traditional in Christianity and turned it all upside down like the temple merchants' tables. What if, in poking fun at religious society, you were left staggering at the fresh wound of your own soul? Would you buy such an album?

If not, then avoid Derek Webb's newest CD, I See Things Upside Down. He will deconstruct everything considered comfortable American Christianity. You will be left extremely sore—unless, of course, change doesn't scare you and you enjoy bleeding.

No bleeding wanted? Then you need to completely avoid this work. Stay away from "Better Than Wine," which takes the Song of Solomon and creates a modern-day text of love through a subtle dance rhythm. It could make you blush. Be sure to ignore "I Repent," which holds such shocking lines like, "I repent of judging by a law that even I can't keep / Of wearing righteousness like a disguise / To see through the planks in my own eyes." If you hold fast to the materialism flooding the church, "Ballad in Plain Red" will infuriate you. Its Moby-like, spoken-word delivery won't soften the blows to your skull: "Don't want the song, I want a jingle / I love You Lord but don't hear a single / And the truth is nearly impossible to rhyme." And don't be fooled by the happy, country-folk lightness of "T-shirts." The lyrics will shock and awe: "They'll know us by the T-shirts that we wear / They'll know us by the way we point and stare / Telling 'em their sins are worse than ours / Thinking we can hide our scars / Beneath these t-shirts that we wear."

Are you running as far away from this album as you can? Some of you are… oh, but I see you back there. Come up here. Yeah, I think you'll like this record. I can see the morning on your face. You're like Webb when he sings, "I don't want medication / Just give me liberation / Even if it cuts my legs right out from underneath / Don't give me medication / I want the real sensation / Even when living feels just like death to me" ("Medication"). You want true Christianity. You want to look past the monster we've created and get back to the basic truths of being one of Christ's disciples. Part of that journey could begin with this rough folk album made by a former member of Caedmon's Call.

Perhaps "I Want a Broken Heart" could become our prayer. We could admit that we have "faith in the bank" and money in the heart. We could fess up, acknowledging that we've "traded naked and unashamed / For a better place to hide." The surreal, ambient synthesizer and atmospherics almost lift us out of the natural earth into that place of brokenness we need to rediscover.

The upside-down sight this musician speaks of is incorrect sight. We convince ourselves that what we see in the natural realm is real, when we're as messed up as the one who has never heard about Christ. Derek Webb calls to the church at large to reawaken to God's reality, for only His reality will last. We will only learn how to see when looking through His eyes. He's in the business of correcting sight.
- Hollie Stewart
June 2005
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