Archives For Repentance

Controversy seems to follow Gloria Muliro wherever she turns, like an unshakable stalker.

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The latest has to do with her song, Follow You. The singer has been accused of stealing/plagiarizing/sampling (whichever term seems most appropriate), not only the words, but also the tune to the chorus/verse from Chris Tomlin’s song, I Will Follow You.

Now, people will throw out accusations all the time at celebrities. What matters is whether those accusations are true, reasonable, justifiable or simply unfounded. What makes Gloria Muliro’s case even more noteworthy is the fact that she responded, by denying all charges of stealing/sampling/plagiarizing the song [both consciously or sub-consciously].

She further added that the contentious lyrics were inspired by the Bible and any similarity with Chris Tomlin’s song is purely coincidental.

It is this denial that makes her case worth examining, especially if you’ve listened to the two songs. Here are the links to the two songs: Gloria Muliro and Chris Tomlin. Give them a listen before you proceed. The first 30 seconds should do it.

Now, a few details concerning the controversy:

FIRST, the words in the contentious verse in both songs are [almost] exactly the same. The only difference is that Chris Tomlin uses the word “when” instead of “where” in the second to last part of the verse [underlined]:

Muliro: “where you go I’ll go, where you stay I’ll stay, where you move I’ll move I’ll move, I will follow you”

Tomlin: “where you go I’ll go, where you stay I’ll stay, when you move I’ll move, I will follow you”

SECONDLY, Gloria Muliro was recently interviewed by Buzz concerning the controversial song. This was her explanation for the apparent similarity between the songs:

Buzz: Okay, make us understand why you are accused of stealing the song ‘Follow You’ by American singer Chris Tomlin word by word.

Muliro: Let me make it very clear. My music is inspired by the Bible. The words in ‘Follow Me’ are in the book of Ruth 1:16. Check and you will see. If today I preach the sermon from John 3:16, that will not prevent somebody else to preach the same verse in Russia. We are all guided and inspired by the same Bible.

THIRDLY, if you’ve listened to the choruses in both songs, the tune is more or less the same. But I will leave that one up for the reader’s/listener’s determination. It could be that all songs sound the same to me. I’m a lyrics guy, after all  🙂

Anyway, my focus in bringing this controversy to light is not to determine whether Gloria Muliro did sample Chris Tomlin’s song (though I feel like that’s exactly what I’m doing). My major concern is in the way she responded to the accusations, considering her claim to be a Christian, and therefore expected to live (or at least speak) according to certain standards.

In the excerpt above, she told Buzz that the words in the song are in Ruth 1:16. This could be true. Ruth 1:16 says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” However, the verse does not have the “where you move, I’ll move” part. I could be splitting hairs here, but it seems Gloria Muliro’s song has more in common with Chris Tomlin’s song than with the Bible (her alleged sole inspiration).

I have tried to give her the benefit of doubt. I have even considered what a friend suggested on Facebook, that this could be a case of Cryptomnesia (This is when “a forgotten memory returns without it being recognised as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke…” ) I was willing to grant that, but upon closer examination of the song, I realized that the similarities are too detailed to be merely incidental.

Some similarities in the internal message in both songs is striking. Yes, a person may sub-consciously sample a chorus and plagiarize a few lyrics, but is it possible for one to subconsciously translate those lyrics into Swahili? That seems a little bit hard to pull off.

In the first verse, Chris Tomlin says, “All your ways are good, All your ways are sure….” and in her first verse, Gloria Muliro says, “….Njia zako hakika (all your ways are good), Mambo yako sambamba (all your ways are sure)…” Maybe I am just cherry-picking lines to prove a point. So, let’s go all the way to the last verse and see what we can find there. In Chris Tomlin’s song, there are phrases such as, “…In you there’s joy, unending joy…” and in Gloria Muliro’s song, “…kuna upendo tele kwako (in you there’s unending joy), furaha kwako (in you there’s joy).” Is this still a coincidence inspired by the story of Ruth and Naomi? Maybe it is. Who knows? God works in mysterious ways.

But an even more important question is this, do you think those are sufficient reasons to make people think that Gloria stole/sampled Chris Tomlin’s song? I think they are. Gloria Muliro doesn’t seem to think so. When asked whether the accusations against her were unfounded, this was her disturbing response:

Buzz: So why would people think that you stole the song, in your opinion?

Muliro: People are just jealous of my success.

Dear Christian artistes, we are called to be above reproach. This does not necessarily mean that we will never fail or try to cover up our failures. It means that we should always be ready (and willing) to bring those failures to the cross. It doesn’t help anyone to keep holding onto our “righteousness” when it is clear before God and before men that there is reason and cause for repentance.

Christianity is not about never falling, it is about always rising up after the fall. Our faith is best displayed in our admission of our falleness (and in our proclamation of Christ’s sufficiency to forgive and raise us up again). No, the world will not be won by our outward cloaks of perfection and self-righteousness, it will be won by the display of our utter dependency, for therein lies the reality of the Gospel in our lives. We are all desperate beggars before God’s throne of grace.

It is my prayer that Gloria Muliro will come to the realization that Christian artistes are not saints misunderstood, but sinners forgiven.

Soli Deo Gloria

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To see Saul standing atop that hill stirs in us feelings of compassion, and deep sadness. You just have to understand the man. His soldiers are fearful and wide-eyed. The scene is so captivating that the scribe of 1 Samuel 13 places his quivering quill down and picks up, not a thesaurus, but a geographical map for phrases that best describe the scene. Saul’s soldiers hid in “caves” and “thickets”, among “rocks”, in “pits” and “cisterns” (vs. 6). Any hole in which a human body could fit, there you’ll find a scared Israeli soldier. Some of them didn’t just step back, they went back home! (vs. 7) And those who chose to stay only did so because they could barely steady their wobbly knees. To say that they were trembling with fear would be an understatement. They were “quaking” with fear (vs. 7).

Saul doesn’t get why Samuel is not yet here. He should have been here two days ago. The Philistines are advancing. The gap between the camps is closing. The Israelite soldiers are cowering. The stench of defeat is choking. He glances at his shadow. It’s now a few inches longer than the last time he checked. Continue Reading…

Here are some great reads that are bound to make your Thursday worthwhile:

  1. GET TO CHURCH EARLY. I think this article was written with me (Cornell) in mind. I’ve been getting to church and meetings quite late lately. This is not good. I need to change this. I am going to change this. Starting yesterday. How about you? Do you need to work on your church arrival time? Please read this post and find out why this is important.
  2. Yesterday I shared an interesting quote on marriage, by Francis Schaeffer. I thought this Boundless article on SETTLING might clarify some questions that many of us may have about the possibility of not having your ideal marriage: “Everybody settles when they decide to get married. Or nobody settles. Or is it both-and?”
  3. REPENTANCE VERSUS DEFENSIVENESS. Gavin: Our default mode – in and out of the church – seems to be defensiveness. I know mine is. Nothing is more natural when we feel threatened by a criticism than to divert, distract, and downplay. Its as instinctive as flinching when a punch is coming.”
  4. Lastly, in PEACE-MAKING: A GOSPEL NECESSITY, Caroline Albanese exhorts us to pursue reconciliation as a Gospel imperative: “It’s a strange thing when you see believers in the church who will not speak to one another but talk to everyone else about the person with whom they have conflict. If God has reconciled us to himself through Christ, how can we not pursue reconciliation with one another?

Have a blessed reading time and don’t forget to read your Bible!

thorns_thumb[1]I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon or reading a commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 in which the speaker or writer did not pause to speculate on what Paul’s thorn could have been. Somehow, the nature of this thorn seems important to us than it was to Paul, who chose not to reveal it. It is easy to get lost in a wild goose chase after theories and exegetical gymnastics that will help us uncover this thorn. But today, as I read through yet another reflection on that thorny passage, a thought crossed my mind: Our obsession with Paul’s thorn is a telling indicator of what we fear most about our own sanctification.

Consider these three famous speculations about the nature of Paul’s thorn: Continue Reading…

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.” [Luke 15:28]

Dear Brother,

I remember it like it was just yesterday; the hurt look on your face when I told you I was leaving home. I remember the conversation we had. You tried to dissuade me from leaving. You thought I was making a bad choice. You feared for my life. You begged and pleaded with me not to leave. But I was obstinate. My mind was set. This place just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I had a whole world awaiting me: territories to conquer, opportunities to grab, a life to live.

Continue Reading…