But hope also needs honesty.
It’s one thing to say, “Oh, have some hope, life will get better.” It’s quite another to identify the struggle one is in, and without resolving the struggle, to find hope in the midst of reality itself.
Many times words just can’t express this hopeful honesty without falling into trite sentimentalism or depressing realism. Personally, this is where music remains such an important avenue to convey values of hope and honesty beyond our ability to understand.
In their most recent album, “Babel”, Mumford & Sons provide a dynamic experience of the inseparable relationship between honesty and hope. From their emotionally charged ballads to the whisper of their folkish reflections, Mumford & Sons illustrates the reality of honesty and hope together. We see this in the intensity of longing with “I Will Wait.” Or facing the pain of a haunted past -“hope torn apart” - “Ghosts That We Knew” offers light in the darkness of despair. The listener will find a companion in the “Hopeless Wanderer.” While loneliness doesn’t disappear for any of us - the honest recognition of “a clouded mind and a heavy heart” - there is hope when such wandering is shared. We aren’t alone even in our loneliness. And to be sure, as “Broken Crown” brashly proclaims, honesty doesn’t come cheap, pretty, or clean - hope can be hard to accept in the honesty of brokenness (“how dare you speak of grace”).
Sometimes we can too honest.
Other times we are too hopeful.
What we need more of, really, is an honest hope.
Thank you Mumford & Sons!
- Tim Neufeld offers an initial response to the album that resonates (and inspired) what I’ve written here.
- Ann Powers offers an interesting perspective as she wrestles with where Mumford & Sons fit into the rock music scene.