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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

November 25, 2010

Song of the Week: Dancing in the Minefield

Of late, I have seldom been inclined to publish a ‘Christian’ song of the week. For whatever reason, the embers of faith have not necessarily been burning bright, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve found my time more valuably spent watching my abysmal Dallas Cowboys than sitting through a weekly church service.

But on this Thanksgiving Day, I cannot help but slip into old habits, and reflect a bit upon the things for which I am thankful this past year. Though we spend the holiday here in Indiana, a veritable world away from our place in Tucson and my home on Oklahoma’s plains, the essence of my thankfulness this past year is largely tied to a profound appreciation for my family – both the small one in Tucson with my loving wife Gwyn, our dog Alexas, and our fish Maestro, and our bigger ones here and in Oklahoma. Rather than posting the lone Shaker hymn on ‘thanks’ in the hymnal, I thought the song below by contemporary Christian musician Andrew Peterson was much more on point.

The Pax Plena Song of the Week is called Dancing in the Minefield, and as noted features the superb vocals of Andrew Peterson. I ran across Andrew Peteron’s music several months ago from the blog DonMillerIs.com. While I was already a fan of Donald Miller, over time I have come to appreciate his penchant for picking a good tune. When he recommended Andrew Peterson, I immediately consulted YouTube and was not disappointed. What struck me most by Andrew Peterson’s music was its honesty, and style. Musically, the song is both minimalist and acoustic, à la The Fray circa 2005. But what The Fray lacks in ability, Peterson compensates for in spades.

To wit, Peterson’s voice is as clear as the guitar he strums, and he doesn’t have nearly the same teen angst that artistically limits The Fray’s appeal. In a word, the music is substantive. Peterson’s acoustic guitar deftly unpacks a lifetime of reflection, while the sparse keyboard supplements Peterson’s vocals as well as a back up singer might do in a larger arrangement. Unlike many a sad song, Dancing in the Minefields is mostly upbeat. By my reckoning, the song’s most popular chord is the “C” chord, which keeps the sound optimistic and thankful rather than sullen and brooding. 

And it is exactly this sort of upbeat sound that is necessary to balance the serious themes being discussed in the lyrics. Dancing in Minefields tells the story of a lifetime spent together, breaking down marriage, its joys, and its complications. Unlike much of the cloying glamorization of love coming out of the Christian music industry, Peterson approaches the institution honestly. He analyzes the difficulty of marriage, specifically, rather than romanticizing it to meet a particular, Christian stereo-type of happiness. The singer opens by reflecting upon the mistake of marrying  too early, and contrasting that decision with the magnitude of committing one’s life to another. The poetic, eponymous conclusion is that marriage is like dancing in a minefield – which in many respects it is.

But the singer’s conclusion is far from fatalistic. The point seems to be that faith in the commitment, and faith in the mutual sacrifice of a marriage is what makes it worthwhile. In other words, the song challenges the proverbial us to get out of our own neuroses, and experience life by living for others.

And really this is the point of Thanksgiving: that we have individuals in our lives whom we can serve in quiet ways – perhaps in ways that only we can understand. Such simplicities make dancing in the minefields a joy, and give our otherwise troubled existence meaning. And for this, we can all give thanks.

Please enjoy the Pax Plena song of the week, Andrew Peterson’s Dancing in the Minefields.



Dancing in the Minefields
By Andrew Peterson 

Well I was 19 you were 21
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much to young
But we did it anyway
We got the rings for 40 each from a pawnshop down the road
We said our vows and took the leap now 15 years ago

Chorus:
We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

Well ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found

Chorus:
And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
That’s what the promise is for

Bridge:
So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith
to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

Cause we bear the light of the son of man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear
Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos baby
I can dance with you

Chorus:
So lets go dancing in the minefields
Lets go sailing in the storms
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And kicking down the doors
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And sailing in the storms
Oh this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
That’s what the promise is for
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