Connecting with Culture
Our blog reflecting on weekly news, trends, innovation, and the arts...
‘This is a soul splitting open and exploding into art.’ – Ari Grossman
I’ve been watching complete strangers shed tears, at a loss for words, or opening up about their own mental health struggles, prompted by their first viewing of one song.
I’ve been watching reactions to ‘Hi Ren’, a video performance by independent musician Ren. It’s a nine-minute exploration of the artist’s struggle with self-doubt – compelling in its delivery, deceptive sophistication, and raw honesty. By the end, we are in no doubt this is a life lived, not imagined.
What ‘Hi Ren’ does so well is explore the lie that we are constantly told by the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:15–17) – you’re not good enough, so just give up.
He puts that devilish whisper on the screen, rather than keeping it in his own head, and in doing so exposes the falsehood that it’s only happening to you, and no one else will understand. It’s a hard watch, as he is bullied, mocked, and accused by a voice that seeks to control, coerce, and diminish his God-given talents. It’s a powerful performance, which engages viewers to the final line.
Tears have been shed as viewers recognise their own hidden thought life in Ren’s, their own struggles with that other voice. Although it starts as a struggle with himself, the source and reality of that voice is ultimately the devil, exposed in a boastful rant.
Hope makes a powerful appearance in the song, too. This is possibly the source of the video’s popularity and ability to connect with viewers. Hope from knowing that someone else has felt the way you feel, that they’d believe you if you told them.
How do we put Jesus at the centre of this desire for hope? How can we bring hope to the mental health epidemic of isolation and anxiety? It’s with the truth that Christ died for all, regardless, so everyone can be whole, healed, and forgiven.
Are we authentic? Do we hide our self-doubts and failings?
Can we open up a conversation with friends and colleagues about whether this song affected us, and invite them to respond?
If there’s a voice whispering ‘it’s not worth trying’, you know who that is and you know that he’s been overcome.
The world seeks our authenticity. Whether with fellow believers, relatives, colleagues, or social companions, we can demonstrate Spirit-led compassion and commitment to those he has put in our lives as we draw alongside them.
Nick works as an administrator in Higher Education, and co-leads his local Pinner Writers’ Group