Music is a map and a mirror. It both instructs us on how to live our lives, and reflects back to us the choices we’ve made as a culture, along with evidence of how we have chosen to live our lives. Map and mirror. Directive and reflective. Who to be and who we are. Music has amazing power.

It’s for that reason that I believe we need to be discriminating and discerning media consumers. We can’t just assume a posture of mindless consumption. For the Christian, our calling is to assume a posture of mindful critique. That’s the reason why I’ve oftentimes made strong statements – both positive and negative – about popular music. There’s music that points us in the right direction. . . telling us who we should be and what we should believe. . . . encouraging us to flourish by realizing the fullness of our humanity. There’s also music that points us in the opposite direction. . . telling us who we should be and what we should believe. . . but to our demise. . . by encouraging us to live lives that are not the way they are supposed to be. . . robbing us of the opportunity to flourish in our full humanity.

It’s no secret that I’ve often-times lamented the musical message of Beyonce. Much of her music falls into that latter category. She’s influential. . . highly influential. In fact, tomorrow, Time magazine will release the “2014 Time 100” issue on the most 100 influential people in our world. . . and Beyonce will be included . . . on the cover. No surprise.

But a very pleasant surprise that I discovered this morning is that in conjunction with the release of this week’s edition of Time, Beyonce is releasing her latest video, “Pretty Hurts.” I’ve watched it. . . and so should you. “Pretty Hurts” falls into the former category of music. It offers up some incredibly powerful commentary on our cultural obsession with beauty, the dangers of pageant culture, identity, body image, and so much more. Yes, there are some mixed messages when “Pretty Hurts” is viewed in the context of the entire Beyonce brand, but this video sends an unmistakable message. It will resonate with kids, particularly our girls. And it should be used as a prompt for discussions about what it means to find our identity as human beings made in the image of God and loved by the God who made us.

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