Existentialism: Country and Western Style

There is nothing quite like talking philosophy on the back porch.  Our youngest, Zachary, is a sophomore at the University of Memphis.  Yesterday, Z and I were discussing John Piper’s book, Don’t Waste Your Life. Piper’s opening chapter recounts his early years. Growing up in the `60’s, the air was filled with existentialism.  Piper writes,

And the meaning of existentialism was that “existence precedes essence.” That is, first you exist and then, by existing, you create your essence. You make your essence by freely choosing to be what you will be. There is no essence outside you to pursue or conform to. Call it, “God” or “Meaning” or “Purpose”—it is not there until you create it by your own courageous existence.[1]

The existential spirit is alive and well. All one needs to do is turn on the radio. Take the song, Something More,[2]performed by Sugarland, the Grammy Award-winning country duo.  Here is an excerpt of the song:

There’s gotta be something more, Gotta be more than this I need a little less hard time, I need a little more bliss I’m gonna take my chances, Taking a chance I might Find what I’m looking for, There’s gotta be something more

Some believe in destiny, and some believe in fate But I believe that happiness is something we create You best believe that I’m not gonna wait ‘Cause there’s gotta be something more.

Sugarland is right, there’s gotta be something more! But they are wrong – we cannot create it. As Piper so expertly notes, “You don’t create it. You don’t define it. It comes to you, and sooner or later you conform to it—or bow to it.”[3]

The erroneous philosophies of life are subtly packaged. In this case the lie was delivered through a beautiful artist with an extremely unique and amazing voice. And it came through a medium I love – country music.

Paul warned the Colossians about the danger of deception. They are great words for us:

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:8-10 ESV)

This isn’t a call to burn CD’s and delete playlists. It is a call to live wisely and wholeheartedly as followers of the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He alone provides that “something more” that makes all of life worth living.

MY PRAYER:Lord, don't let me be deceived. Open my eyes and ears to recognize the philosophical lies no matter how beautifully they come packaged.


John Piper, 2003.

Don’t’ Waste Your Life.

Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, page 14.


Something More

, written by Kristian Bush, Kristen Alison Hall, and Jennifer Nettles


John Piper,

Don’t Waste Your Life

, page 15.