As I’ve been watching lots of Blimey Cow lately, I noticed several references to a Christian band called As Cities Burn. I decided to check them out. I haven’t listened to much of their music, but I found some on Spotify and listened to one song called “Made Too Pretty.” At first the lyrics had me a bit skeptical: “I think we were made too pretty.”
The use of the word “too” sort of implies that God made a mistake in creating us the way He did. Obviously that’s not the case. Fortunately, as I heard more of the song lyrics I got to like it much more. For instance, let’s look at the first verse:
We bear your name
Then you let us say
You are something that you’re not
As if you were made after we saw our own faces
And knew we were gods enough
I don’t completely understand the first few lines (“We bear your name / Then you let us say / You are something that you’re not”) but the rest make quite a bit of sense. “And knew we were gods enough”–Satan told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the fruit of the tree that God had forbidden them to eat from that they would “be like gods” (Gen 3:4). As if Satan would know better than God, as if Adam and Eve would know better than God, acting “as if [God] were made after [Adam and Eve] saw [their] own faces.” As if they, and not God, were creator, were divine.
Now check out the beginning of the refrain:
I think we were made too pretty
We’re caught up in a stare we cannot break
These lines remind me of two incidents from classic literature: one, the ancient tale of Narcissus, and the other from Milton’s Paradise Lost. Narcissus is a young man who, coming upon his own reflection in a body of water, becomes so enamoured of it that he leans over toward it, falls in, and drowns (thus our word narcissistic). That’s certainly a stare he was unable to break. Paradise Lost echoes this myth, but it turns out a little bit better in Milton’s work. In Book 4, Eve details how she came to Adam. She woke up and began to explore Eden. Like Narcissus, she came upon her reflection in the water; yet she is brought away from it by God, who tells her that she looks only at herself and that there is another fair creature she may behold. Thus Eve was able to break her stare at herself–but only with God’s help.
This song rightly declares that man is too enamoured of himself. He doesn’t want to look outside of himself for what is most important, for one who makes the decisions. He wants to be in control of everything and be all-powerful. Man’s pride doesn’t want to let him admit that he is, in fact, not God, not in control, and not all-powerful. Thus I interpret these lines to mean (though the way they sing them and the lack of punctuation I have found in the lyrics does not assist interpretation):
We don’t want a God we don’t see in ourselves don’t see we’re in need
I would separate the words in this way, as they seem to make the most sense to me and support my point: “We don’t want a God we don’t see in ourselves; [we] don’t see we’re in need.” Considering the other lyrics I think my interpretation makes sense. We want only to see a God in ourselves, for ourselves to be gods, and so we ignore the fact that we cannot be what we are not and that we need help. The same kind of pride that ostensibly motivated Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit motivates us to do what is bad for us and go against our natures.
So it’s not that we were made too pretty. It’s as another line of the song says: “we became too petty.” It’s not God’s fault we turned out the way we did. It’s ours.