The other day, “Who Let the Dogs Out” was on the radio.
For those of you who don’t remember, “Who Let the Dogs Out” (click at your own risk) was a song written by a Trinidadian group called the Baha Men that made it to the United States as part of the soundtrack for Rugrats in Paris: The Movie. It was probably the most popular song of the summer of 2000; in fact, it won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording in 2001. On one hand, this is somewhat understandable. The song is catchy, danceable, and insidiously easy to remember. On the other hand, it’s hard to understand why anyone enjoyed the song in the first place. It has the dubious distinction of being third on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 20 most annoying songs, and it is frequently cited as an example of the fact that quality and popularity are not always one and the same.
The Baha Men are also an example of a common phenomenon in popular music: the one hit wonder. Though the Trinidadian group released several other singles, none achieved the ubiquity or acclaim of their magnum opus. For better or worse, this means that the Baha Men will forever be defined by a song that repeatedly asks a rhetorical question about the provenance of dogs. I imagine that being a one hit wonder has to be frustrating. Instead of being trusted for your talent and potential, you are known for an isolated moment in your career. Even if you go on to grow and change, people define you in terms of something you did in the past.
Holy Week begins tomorrow. As such it is appropriate for us to take stock of our Lenten journeys. And when it comes to Lent (and other things), I suspect that many of us think we might be one hit wonders. We assume that what we have done in the past will forever shape our futures. If we have had a Lent that was particularly fruitful, for instance, we tend to have two responses. We either assume that this is the best we can do and say that we will try to have the same experience next year or we believe that there’s no way we could possibly experience the same level of fulfillment and regard this as the high water mark in our spiritual development. We must recognize, however, that we are called to grow in our relationship with God. When St. Paul tells us that we are called to walk in newness of life, we are meant to walk in a particular direction. We’re meant to be aware that we are moving toward a deeper and fuller relationship with the God who created and redeemed us. I pray that this Lent has been a time of spiritual growth for you, but more importantly, I pray that you will continue to grow in your awareness of God’s love even as this season of renewal comes to a close. Above all, I pray that you will remember that in God’s eyes, you will never be a one hit wonder.