Weekly @Switchfoot Song: Chem 6a

Here’s the next song on Switchfoot’s first album The Legend of Chin: “Chem 6a”. Apparently, Chem 6A is the intro chemistry class at University of California, San Diego. This is one of the classes Jon (the lead singer) took while he was in college, before he dropped out to pursue his dream of playing music full-time. Here’s the lyrics:

Nothing but a chemical in my head
It’s nothing but laziness
Cause I don’t wanna read the book
I’ll watch the movie
Cause it’s not me
I’m just like everybody else my age

I think I’d rather play around
And I think I’d rather watch TV
Cause I don’t wanna face my fears
I’ll watch the movie
Cause it’s not me
I’m just like everybody else
I’m just like everybody else

Because I don’t wanna be here
I don’t wanna see this now
It’s all wrong but it’s alright
And I don’t wanna be here
And I don’t wanna study now
It’s all wrong but it’s alright

I don’t know what love is
I don’t know who I am
And if I ever want to find out
I’ll watch the movie
Cause it’s not me
I’m just like everybody else my age

I don’t wanna change the world
And I don’t wanna be someone
I don’t wanna write the book
I’ll make the movie
Cause it’s not me
I’m just like everybody else
I’m just like everybody else

I don’t wanna be here
I don’t wanna see this now
It’s all wrong but it’s alright
And I don’t wanna be here
And I don’t wanna study now
It’s all wrong but it’s alright

I must say this again, as I have said it before, and will likely say it many more times, music (and the arts) are universal and powerful precisely because, unlike many other pieces of literature, most forms of the arts leave open-ended meanings to the work that is enjoyed (not all, but most). So allow me indulge on what this song has meant to me. This song speaks to the reality of having to conform to what the world around me says I need to be, or to do, to be successful, to be somebody, or to fit in. It speaks to the person who isn’t motivated to work at a fortune 500 business, start an online business, or just work a 9-5 job sitting in a cubicle. This speaks of the person who is tired of living in the rat race just to keep up with all the things that will give you a “good, steady job” so you can keep up with all the bills that have been acquired in the name of having a good time, and living the American dream.

It also speaks to the person who has lost themselves in this life, and don’t want to open that door to find out who they really are. The person who knows something’s wrong with the status quo, but they don’t want to know, so they just stay like everybody else, watch the same movies, believe the same news reels, and never find who they truly are. We live in a fast paced culture that has made consumption “king”, which has caused a sickening system that has allowed capitalism to be the new religion, and has allowed it to be almost completely unaccountable.

This unchecked capitalism has conformed many of us “Christians” to it’s image more than we are being conformed to the image of Christ. We say this is not so, but our lifestyles betrays us. Us ‘Westerners’ are the all-consuming-mouth-of-the-world, consuming products and people. This unchecked, unaccountable capitalism has created a way of life that has made the bottom line (financially) the most important discussion. This has turned creative citizens, into crazy consumers. We are told to keep consuming, or our way of life will not be sustainable. So we strive to keep up, lest we be forgotten… and the result is that we lose ourselves. We become one with the people, or the systems, that we never believed in, but we’re like everybody else, so that makes us feel okay.

For Christians, or may I say “holy ones” (fun fact side note: the Greek word hagios often translated ‘holy ones’ or saints’ is used over 60 times in the New Testament, compared to the Greek word Christianós or ‘Christian’, only being used three times), this unchecked capitalism has been detrimental to the identity of the ‘holy ones’. Instead of living as citizens of heaven, we have become consumers of heavenly feelings.

Consumerism has become such a way of life because of unchecked capitalism, that even the church now is addicted to consuming religious goods, services, and leaders. We consume worship. We consume entertaining preachers/leaders. We continue to consume more and more, but feel better about it because we have put “Jesus” on the product, or have deemed it a “Christian” product. But in the midst of this rat race, we have forgotten that over-consumption in the problem, so we keep consuming “Christian” things. And while we do it, we long for more comfortable, trendy venues to do our consuming.

I think all of this sets us up for a big let down in life; we lose who we are, life becomes disappointing, everything’s wrong, but we say, “It’s alright, because I’m like everybody else.” The American way of life has become a chemical in our heads. We were created for so much more.

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