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Merle Haggard, hyperbole, and eschatology

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I kind of love hyperbole.  And metaphors that are extreme.  Because they make great poetry.  They speak truth somehow, even though they might be logically incoherent.

Today I was driving around in my old ugly Civic and listening to Merle Haggard’s “More Than My Old Guitar.”

“More than my old guitar, more than my old guitar.  I love my old guitar like God loves the poor, but I love you even more.”

I mean, can you really love a guitar like God loves the poor?  Doesn’t that involve at least a half dozen category confusions?  Can you love someone else even more?  I don’t care, it’s beautiful.

In that same song, ole’ Merle also does some eschatology.  You know…  the branch of Christian theology that deals with end times, or the new heavens and the new earth, or heaven and hell depending on how gnostic you like your theology.  The song has this verse:

“There’ll be no need for saving.  If you knew what the Lord has in store.  What waits for after, the mind can’t imagine…” and of course the hyperbolic finishing phrase; “but I love you even more.”

First of all, I enjoy the proclamation of faith in a consummation that exceeds our theological categories of heaven and salvation.  Second, again, I love the audacious claim that compared to Creator reconciling all things and the whole universe in mind blowing wonderfulness Merle can croon…  “I love you even more.”

Absurd!  But beautiful, romantic, and just right.

RIP Merle, I hope you’re enjoying “what waits for after.”

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