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Why I Don’t Like Christian Music

Well, the title gives away my lack of passion for Christian music, so I am not going to do an inductive blog. There, I got it out. I don’t like Christian music. In fact, I think Christian music is theologically wrong. It is like saying “I like Christian cooking.” There is no such thing . . . or at least there should not be. I know that some of you are not going to agree with me, and that is cool. Your probably right. This is not that big of a deal. Nevertheless, allow me to express my odd passion here anyway.

Why don’t I like Christian music? That is a good question. I have often asked this of myself. What happens is this. I am driving down the road, listening to talk radio. The Renewing Your Mind broadcast ends, and is replaced by an hour of Christian music. I immediately change the station. I look for other music. Maybe something in the 90’s. The 90’s was a great decade for music. Here is my order of preference:

  • U2
  • Lifehouse
  • Creed
  • The Fray
  • Cranberries
  • Alanis Morresette
  • Smashing Pumkins
  • Switchfoot
  • Matchbox 20
  • Nickleback
  • REM
  • Pearl Jam

Oh, and (cover your ears boys and girls) . . .

  • Just about anything Country

That is my list. In fact, you can check my iPhone and see the same on my favorites list. I know what you are thinking. None of these, other than Switchfoot, are Christian groups. In fact, some have been thought of as anti-Christian. Even U2, Lifehouse, The Fray, and Creed, although they have Christian members, are not Christian bands. I like that. In fact, if they were to change and exist under the title of “Christian rock” I would probably bow my head in sadness and cease to listen to them so much. I would think to myself “They have caved to the pressure of the Christian sub-culture network.

It would take much more than one blog to explain my reasonings for this (especially since I do not completely understand them myself), but let give you some thoughts.

Broadly speaking, I don’t like the Christian mentality that Christians must create Christian sub-cultures in order to be truly Christian. We have a sub-culture for everything. When people come into Church they have to learn a different language, change the way they dress, only read Christian books, start liking the organ, and limit their cinematic entertainment to Fireproof and Facing the Giants. Why? Because we must conform to the sub-culture that says everything outside the Christian sub-culture is evil at worst and dangerous at best.

I especially don’t like a sub-culture in a genera that is a human genera—music. What does this mean? I believe that the Church is to exist as the Church, representing Christ in culture. This does not simply mean that we are out giving the Gospel to every person we see (as important as evangelism is), but representing Christ by being human. We are part of the culture, we are not a sub-culture. If a person feels musically inclined, he or she can honor God with their music, but this does not necessarily mean that every song they sing contains the words “Jesus, “God,” or “saved” anymore than saying that every pancake they cook has to have Jesus on it.

Why is it that when people become Christian in the music business they feel pressured to only sing songs exclusively about Jesus?

Let me just say it. I think that most Christian music is fake. I would much rather hear about people’s real lives, real struggles, and real passions than the shallow stuff that I hear coming out of the Christian music industry. Transparency is the key. I would rather hear someone honestly wrestling with the difficulties of life than listen to those who act like they have all the answers when I know this is not really the case. I would rather hear someone honestly cursing God than hypocritically praising His name. Music is about touching the deepest part of the human soul, grabbing a hold of the passions in a way that no other form of communication can. One Greek philosopher once said, “You can have the government and education, but give me the music and I control the people.” Music is about meeting people where they are. For example, Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins asks more questions than it answers. Cumbersome by Seven Mary Three, while depressing, speaks to real situations where life is overwhelming and sad. Lead On by George Straight tells a short simple story about two people trying to work out their fractured relationship. You Found Me by the Fray is a muffled cry out to God for seeming to be absent when everything was falling apart. This is an essential component in music. It enters your struggles, joys, angers, frustrations and says “This is life.” It should never put on a veneer of a sub-culture, but speak to people where they are. Didn’t David do this in the Psalms? Aren’t the Psalms music? Yet the Psalms are real. Some cry out to God in real anger, some praise his creation. Even the Song of Songs is about real life. It is about sex and it does not need to mention God once to honor him.

I am not saying that music should seek to normalize or glorify sin, but neither should it seek to avoid the real holes that we find ourselves in. Neither am I saying that the music that I have listed above necessarily honors God, but at least it is real. U2 sings real songs. Bono, the Edge, Larry Mullin, and Adam Clayton are all Christians, but they are not a Christian band. Why? Because they want to make an impact in the real world, speaking about real issues with honesty, openness, and transparency. If they were to enter into the “Christian music” genera, they would have to wear the same mask as all the others. They know this and they wisely stay out of the Christian music sub-culture.

There is no reason for Christians to create sub-cultures. In fact, this is a concession. God created music. He does not require you to mention His name in every song any more than He requires it in every email or conversation that you have. Real life can honor God without mentioning His name or acting like things are okay. Sometimes they are not okay. I am not against mentioning God at all, but let your music reflect the real world. He should be honored in all things. The same thing can be said about all entertainment. I don’t like the Christian movie industry for the exact same reasons, but that is another blog.

(I  hope you also see that this is really about much more than the value of Christian music.)

Okay, let the roasting begin.

121 Responses to “Why I Don’t Like Christian Music”

  1. Yes, this is an update of something I did years ago. I thought I was going to go back to this and see that I have changed, but came to find out I only had things to add, tweak, modify, and intensify. :)

    • Thank you for this article. I thought I wasn’t Christian enough because I don’t like Christian music. I share your views. God knows our hearts and I can’t fake the way I feel. I can love and serve God without conforming to what other Christians think you should like. I have to be real and true to myself. Your article help me to realize there is nothing wrong with my views. Thank you Kathy

  2. I completely agree. I’m a big fan of Flyleaf and Anberlin. I love what Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf said in an interview when she was asked about being a “Christian band”:

    Interviewer: “How did that work with you being in a Christian rock band?”

    Lacey: “Well, you know what? I don’t know what you mean by a “Christian rock band.” It’s hard to say that because people all have a different definition of what that means. If it means that we’re Christians, then yeah we’re Christians, but if a plumber’s a Christian, does that make him a “Christian plumber?” I mean we’re not playing for Christians. We’re just playing honestly and that’s going to come out.”

    Source: http://bit.ly/cUAyfm

    And Stephen Christian of Anberlin was quoted as saying:
    “My faith affects every single aspect of my life, but I’m not a preacher, I’m an entertainer.”

    Source: http://bit.ly/dkjf7d

  3. I was going to mention Flyleaf. I connect to their music a lot. And I relax knowing that they’re like me, Christians, but real at the same time.

  4. I think Switchfoot is pretty good at this as well.

  5. Hi Michael,

    Fantastic article, and far from “roasting” you, I totally concur. As a musician myself I have struggled with directing my gifts, wanting of course to be God-honoring but at the same time abhorring the triviality and superficiality of much Christian music and knowing I simply would not be able to fit into that subculture.

    What you’re writing here is freeing. This kind of thinking could help musicians like me actually use our gifts in a more powerful, creative way. Because I’m called to be ambassador for the Truth, not to present a politically correct version of Christian faith, as part of a subculture that apes the world rather than transforms it.

    Christian musicians should still aim to be pure and holy in creating and playing music, but not by pretending we still don’t struggle with the same dark impulses everyone else does, or that we never have questions or doubts. The humanity in Christian music is what has been lacking! Let’s bring it back!

    Amen, brother!

  6. Being a bit older and dealing with a mental illness, I find a lot to identify with in the music of Pink Floyd. Real life sometimes isn’t pretty, or nice. That said, there are some “Christian” artists that I have enjoyed listening to over the years. However, by and large, I share your thoughts, Michael, “Christian” music does often sound fake, or, as I call it, cheesy.

  7. I agree with you Michael. As a musician, I find most Contemporary Christian music to be bland. The Christian subculture thing is a problem also because it can forward, promote and confirm Christian stereotypes inside and outside the culture. This then becomes the litmus test of Christianity.

    Maybe we should start rebelling against all things “Christiany”. Let’s start with blogs that are seen as a type of informational subculture within Christianity.

    Any ideas on which “Christian blog” would go first?

    Don’t forget about “Christian” buildings too.

  8. The only Christian band that ever grabbed me was Five Iron Frenzy, but what grabbed me about them was the reality of them. They didn’t write JUST about Christianity. They talked about things as serious as Columbine HS and disrespect to Native Americans and also sung a silly song about how great Canada was. The Christian songs were excellent though because they reflected something that made sense to me. There was identity crisis over what it meant to be Christian, there was struggle with human nature while facing Christ and songs about how God honored all women by lifting up Mary to be the mother of Jesus. All great stuff.

    The thing I liked the most though? They listened to not Christian bands. It was like getting permission to like all the good bands and not being restricted to the boring bands.

  9. CMP I have a question; what do you do if one of the songs has really unsavory lyrics or the movie has crass, crude or totally inappropriate content (glorifying sin rather than describing it)?. Do you press the ‘skip’ button or ignore it?

    I never analyzed this issue theologically but almost unconsciously found myself moving away from Christian music in the last 7 years or so. When I visit a Christian bookstore I occasionally sample the latest Christian tracks but can’t seem to convince myself to part with my money. It sounds the same as it did many years ago. Especially what is called ‘contemporary Christian music’. I find the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir or Country Gospel more exciting but even that has limited appeal to me.

    From the non-Christian variety I like rhythmic music and enjoy funk and hip-hop, so I must be standing at the precipice of the abyss given some of their lyrics!!!

  10. I think you’re generally accurate. However, there are a few exceptions (the previously mentioned Switchfoot, for example). Others I recommend:

    Jon Foreman (his independent stuff)
    Brooke Fraser
    the ever reliable Relient K

    A thought for people to chew on: can any instrumental music ever be explicitly “Christian” in the sense we use the word of music in general?

  11. I’m with you on this as well Michael. As a musician now approaching 50yr of age, I wish I could have had this type of council when I started playing music over 35 yrs ago. It was often a mental struggle for me as I played “Christian Music” and yet enjoyed many mainstream artists. I was made to feel that I was a bad Christian because of this. My 20 yr old son did not have this disadvantage. (he is also a musician and I did not teach him what I was taught) and agrees with you as well. He really doesn’t like most Christian music and thinks it is rediculous that we have yet another sub-culture. Having said that , there are a handful of “Christian” artists who are really trying to write honest yet encouraging music and I apprectiate their efforts…even if in many cases they fall very short of this.

  12. A passion of mine – Christian music – you obviously don’t listen to the same Christian music I do, things like Natalie Grants – Held, Casting Crowns – Praise you in the Storm, I could go on. I used to do 2 1/2 hour radio programs that were filled with music that wrestled and grappled with real problems conquered by faith in God. I dislike Christian categorisation and segregation, however I do think we need music that glorifies God. It’s actually biblical! We are instructed to praise God with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. That doesn’t mean they have to be boring and sung to an organ. I would be lost without my Christian music to challenge, inspire, call me forward and help me through. When that music goes on it connects me to God in a way I cannot connect without it.

  13. I totally agree, an obscure Christian book I read many years ago made this crystal clear to me (“Let Me Out” is the title) in it God is giving a statement of His issues or gripes with the church, he says something to the effect of “why do you only listen to so-called Christian music when many composers and artists of the world glorify me with their work, why are you so afraid?” and in the next page God simply says “I am music..” That woke me up to the false distinctions we make, all good comes from God.

  14. CMP: I am totally with you. U2 is my fav; but I also like Wayne Watson, Russ Taff for their realistic lyrics.

  15. Here’s a John Piper quote that helped me a while back. What do you guys think?
    “If a song is not written to God, for God, or about God — it is blasphemy.”

    Is music for us (Entertainment)? or is music for God (Glory)?
    I find myself being too “American” when it comes to music (and all entertainment for that matter)…I think we are way too obsessed with being entertained when our striving should be holiness and godliness through the Gospel of Christ by the grace of God.

    That being said, I love entertainment, so looking for some thoughts on the balance.

  16. Michael,
    Thank you for that article. I don’t think this will really be a roast. You have brought up a very good point about Christian music. However, I think that you have missed the point of many Christian music artists. Many of their roles is to uplift the members of the Body of Christ, much like what we do when we get together in fellowship. Others’ roles is writing songs of worship. As you said, people do hurt, but that should not keep us from worshiping or seeking comfort from other brothers and sisters (even if its just through music they have written).

    I kind of agree that a sub-culture should not be created, but that is what happens when we have a worldview that is antagonistic to the world. Truth divides, it does not necessarily unite.

    Christian music artists are an important part of the Body of Christ and all of them perform their roles even though they are sinners, just like the rest of us. We should support them as they support us.

    Also, just a note. The Theology Program provides much in depth understanding about God that makes my worship mean so much more and brings me closer to God. Sometimes the songs from Christian artists become deeper with a more complete understanding of Who we worship. Theology brings the mind closer to Christ, music combined with theology brings the heart closer.

  17. Michael,
    I agree with you. I think there are some exceptions to the rule but I find much Christian “entertainment” shallow and, for me, ineffective. I find “Christian” movies almost uniformly bad. Who would want to have to explain the theology of “Left Behind” or “Facing the Giants” to your unsaved friend.

  18. NS,

    It usually depends. When I am evaluating entertainment, I ask three questions:

    Does it glorify the bad behavior?
    Does it normalize the bad behavior?
    Is the bad behavior accessible?

    “Bad words” however do not offend me. While I almost never use them, they are the least of my worries.

  19. Michael,

    You had me until this:

    “Just about anything Country”

    I could read no further. :)

    Bill brings up a great point. I wonder if your counter point could be attributed to religion as moralism versus religion as glorification of God through truth? We like the generic Veggie Tales type Christianity, but it does seem absent of Christ directly. Of course, we can make a lot of “secular” music about Christ if we choose, since all we have to do is switch the deities for whom the songs are sung from self to Christ.

  20. Hey – thanks for the article; it resonates with where my heart is. As someone who God has spoken to through profoundly unChristian music (Doobie Brothers and Nirvana!), I think that when we limit our musical choices, we limit opportunities for God to speak to us. William Booth said “Why should the devil have all the good music?” Often, it is only because we actively consign non-Christian music to Satan that God isn’t able to use it. That said, there are Christian artists past and present who have realised the issue of cultural isolation in the church, and have spoken against it – specifically Keith Green’s “Asleep In The Light” and Chris Rice’s “Me and Becky.

  21. CMP, I generally prefer to stick to either instrumental or outright spiritual music. I’m picky about mainstream, but some of it’s good.

    I’m with you on the country thing, also. At least, until country went pop in about 1997. I can’t stand what’s become of country music these days. “She’s got it going on like Donkey Kong.” Not just does the line not mean anything, but Donkey Kong doesn’t belong in a country song. Ugh!

    Much of the problem with contemporary Christian music is that it’s just too danged happy. I ran across this problem in Churches of Christ, and I ran across that problem at Bridgeway, also.

    We need a balance. I think we need to incorporate the Psalms into our worship music, including genres other than the praise psalm. There’s confession, supplication, and thanksgiving psalms. There’s indictments against the powers of this world. But none of that’s in our worship today.

    As for Christian artists who produce mainstream songs, Brianna Gaither is someone to look up. She’s a friend of mine who’s produced an EP and is producing her first full-length album (which should be out in January). Download her EP tracks from iTunes! Her songs are real, and they range from silly to spiritual.

  22. Regarding that John Piper quote, I think that if a Christian artist (or a Christian anything for the matter) does his work to the best of his abilities He does it to God and glorifies God. So everything one does glorifies God no matter how secular it is.

  23. I do not like Christian music either, especially what is typically known as CCM. I dislike praise bands. I just went to a pastor’s conference where the band was so loud it did seven things:

    1. Hurt my ears
    2. Shattered any semblance of a tune or melody
    3. Stopped me from hearing most if not all of the words
    4. Contained little or no theology (from reading words on screen)
    5. Reinforced my distaste of CCM and praise bands
    6. Reinforced my love for a good old slow George Jones ballad
    7. Caused me to shake my head in wonderment that anyone could think that God could really receive any praise from what transpired

  24. Thank you! I thought I was going insane!! Why couldn’t I appreciate this “christian message” put to music? Had I not come far enough in the Holy Spirit to airily wave my hands and close my eyes to these Hot Topic-clad yet buttoned-down rockers? I have recently returned to Jesus and when I did, it was as if, over time, I could speak “christian-ese” (no disrespect intended- only humble humor)! The message of the bible became very clear and I wondered (almost in horror!) if I would begin to like these paltry examples of “music”. Thankfully, I believe God knows me better than that!

  25. Country music is = to organ music.

  26. I too hate most “christian songs”. I agree that there are many that are biblically wrong. I like stuff like “Creed”, Audioslave, Alterbridge. I know some of these bands are rock, but they contain more spiritual truth than most so-called Christian songs of today in my opinion and belief. I thought I was the only weird one that had a pet pieve about this music. Guess I was wrong.

  27. “So everything one does glorifies God no matter how secular it is.”

    How do we account for Revelation 16:9, where men do not glorify Him. I think we need to understand that everything ULTIMATELY gives glory to God, but everything does not IMMEDIATELY give glory to God. It used to be said in evangelical circles that Michael Jordan slamming a basketball through a hoop gives glory to God (perhaps in an ultimate sense), but giving glory to God in the immediate sense is what we are to concern ourselves with as Christians, not what God will ultimately use for His glory (like the wicked action of Joseph’s brothers). Hence, we need to ask whether what we are meditating upon is something that gives glory to God. I don’t think evangelical poppy songs do that, but neither do many secular songs. As I said before, it is really the Christian that has the duty to purify the song by the way he thinks of it. Some songs cannot be purified. Some can; but not all glorify God in the immediate sense.

  28. Nice article…. As a “metalhead” I have faced an interesting struggle balancing my spirituality with my musical tastes… The 80’s & 90’s had no shortage of Christian counterparts to every genre of rock, which was great – unfortunately Bart Simpson may be correct in saying the devil has all the best music… Tongue in cheek of course…

    One band comes to mind, TOOL, which has plotted a course of serious spiritual growth over the course of their career – nakedly exploring the essence of spirituality & meaning in the world – mostly hinging on the singer’s experience of witnessing his devoutly Christian mother being subdued by a stroke & the subsequent actions of her fellow belivers….

  29. I believe there is a genre of music that is completely Christian. It is called “worship”. It is made “Christian” by its purpose. That purpose is worship of our God. Not that worship is only music. But it is a modality of worship that can be communally joined in and a way of speaking God’s word into a worship space dispelling the darkness and inviting the spirit of God into the space. And creating an energy of corporate worship, something beyond what you can create in your own singing. I think this applies when you are at home playing “Christian” music to fill your house. One night I heard a noise that sat me up in my bed. I sensed something less than good. I couldn’t detect what, but to dispel any “nongood” I turned on some Christian music low to fill the house with the words of God. Anyone who has witnessed Steve Green perform “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” especially in person and a capella , has felt this presence. It is not innocuous. The words of God have power. I do agree with you however, that not all Christian music fits this bill.

  30. That’s believers (not belivers)
    To continue… I find it interesting that most iconography in metal music owes a huge debt to the Christian religion – the irony of most metal music is that it affirms and substantiates Christianity in it’s rebellion against it. In other words, why rebel against something you claim has no sway over you – why not just ignore it all together if you really don’t believe…. But, I digress…

    I am a bible believing God fearing Christ following metalhead who believes that all things are to the glory of God even absent of the original intent!

    From St Paul’s basilica:
    Lector, si monumentum requiris circumspice

  31. Here’s another question that came to mind after reading some responses:

    There are churches that use Beatles songs, Dave Matthews Band songs, etc… during corporate worship because they can be “redeemed.” Is this okay? Is there a different standard of what we listen to in our “private” times as compared to our corporate times?

    Interested to hear what you guys think. Trying to work these things out for myself.

  32. Michael, Not a lot here yet, but you are always welcome to check out my well reasoned views on music….

    http://woodbetween.blogspot.com

    And if you are serious about Country (of the not so glossy variety) I recommend these

    Billy Joe Shaver
    Johnny
    Patty Griffin (Downtown Church)
    Julie and Buddy Miller
    Bill Malonee (More alt folk-rock)
    and Mo Leverett (more folk cajun blues)
    Buddy Rufus Green (Bluegrass and beyond)

    MarK Heard (No longer living, but essential) Not country persay, though his last recordings veered heavily in Creole and alt country.

    Buddy Miller is perhaps the best unsung Country/singer writer in Nashville, in a league of his own. If that is what you mean by country, I’m with you. If you mean the stuff they play on the radio… How could you.

    Ps. Someone mentioned John Foreman. (Frontman for Switch-foot) His last 2 CD EP collection Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer is hands down, one of the finest collections ever unleashed on the planet. Not country (or Rock) but renegade alt folk….and it is honest, lovely, dark, experimental, passionate, broken, holy, ….. vibrant with scripture while not sounding at all like the stuff of Christian radio.

    Ps. The fact that you included Nickleback has me wondering…is it too late to teach aesthetics….

  33. As a musician, and regarding the Piper quote:

    “If a song is not written to God, for God, or about God — it is blasphemy.”

    Is the Muzak playing quietly in the grocery store blasphemous? How about the mom singing “Rocka-bye Baby”to her child? How about “Take me out to the ball game” during a seventh-inning stretch? Does he ever sing “Happy Birthday” at a party?

    Assuming he meant the comment as it sounds, I have no idea how he could come to such a conclusion.

    That said, I’m not fond of CCM either. Being a dinosaur, I prefer music by Bob Dylan (Infidels is one of the best “Christian” records I’ve ever heard), Clapton, Django Reinhardt, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard and Benny Goodman. I recently picked up a CD by a new girl named Priscilla Ahn and I absolutely love it.

    Oh, and The Stanley Brothers.

  34. Augh… How could I have forgotten Peirce Pettis. The finest songwriter of the lot.

  35. There are some Christian musicians, writers and artists who hang out at http://www.rabbitroom.com. The music produced by the “residents” of the room is generally thoughtful and thought provoking. I’d highly recommend the music of Ron Block (banjo/guitar with Alison Krause and Union Station) who writes songs that are theologically deep and spiritually challenging – never cliche or trite. Powerful stuff. His most recent CD is called “Doorway.” Pick it up.

  36. As an ex-christian who dabbled very briefly in Christian music before giving it up for a joke, I applaud this post.

    Even when I was in the church, I always veered more towards song writers who just wrote about life, without having to give in to that posturing so that so much christian music does.

    A long time ago I was an Amy Grant fan – the best music she ever wrote was just about her struggles, with her marriage, with motherhood, with the church – it was real. The real Amy came through. There should be more of that.

  37. Thanks Dave, I am always enjoy a trip to the rabbit room, but do not know the music of Ron Block. I will look him up.

  38. Howdy all

    I agree and disagree with the main article in the sense that there are some Christian bands that do make good “Christian” music. It has its place. One band that comes to mind is Casting Crowns. Their music is awesome and “real”.

    I will also use this opportunity to promote my own music. :) I produce music electronically and it is all in honour of God although it does not always mention God or Jesus directly. It is an expression of life and my journey through it, which includes God majorly. My songs are mostly vocal-less so it is much more open to interpretation and the only thing that usually points to my intention for the song is in the title.

    You can download all my tunes for free here – http://thexstructure.com

    Let me know what you think.

    Another artist that is Christian but also sings about things like love, surfing and life, is Paul Wright. He rocks! Check him out.

    Cheers

    Starrzan

  39. Everything done in a spirit of appreciation and love for the Creator gives glory to Him. Even if one does not mention Him. However I do agree that what we do should be consistent with Him.

  40. I get your point, i share most of it, but not the spirit in which you write. You say: “I would rather hear someone honestly cursing God than hypocritically praising His name.” Hmm..no, i would rather not listen to none of those. Some Psalms are written in anger, and some are REALLY depressing, yet they finish worshipping and glorifying God…something that many songs out there do not do…which just leads people to more depression.

  41. Johnny Cash set us all straight with his box set: Love, God and Murder. And, accepting that “Murder” is a broader category than just killing someone, he pretty much captures the essence of human existence.

    I travel quite frequently and my wife made me a three cd set called: Love, Travel and Jesus. On the Jesus disc are the following songs:

    U2: 40
    If God Will Send His Angels
    Wake Up Dead Man
    Breathe
    Moment of Surrender
    Love Rescue Me
    Chris Tomlin: Famous One
    Jamie Smith: Faith in You, Your Grace is Sufficient
    Johnny Cash: Why Me Lord, The Kneeling’s Drunkard’s Plea, My God is Real
    Alison Krause: Down to the River to Pray
    Charlie Hall: How Great Thou Art
    Matt Redmond: Blessed Be Your Name
    Robbie Seay Band: Song of Hope
    Ali Rogers: I Caught Sight, New Today

    So, my Jesus songs seem to tilt heavily toward “non Praise and Worship CCM” and of course, U2.

  42. I like the post about music. Personally, I am a music junkie. My iPod is full of all kinds of music: Hard Rock, Country, Jazz, Classical, and Top 40. I find myself uplifted by all of it at different times.

    A few years ago, I was listening to Metalica’s “Nothing else matters” and thought it could be a great way to possible witness to the hard rock guys. I was at a discpleship seminar at my church when a young man (ok young is realtive to me) got up and offered his personal testimony.

    He was a tough guy in prison for a violent crime and spent a lot of time in solitary because of his behavor. He was listening to that song on headphones. The Holy Spirit had began a conversation with him using the song lyrics. He was convicted of his violent and sinful ways. He realized that he Jesus Christ in his life as his personal saviour. He had a huge change of heart and behavor. He have cleaned up his life, got out of prison, and is working with prison ministries to bring the Gospel to other prisoners.

    The point is God will use whatever tools He sees fit to use.

  43. *Read* _The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Christianly About the Arts_ by Leland Ryken. It was a text for my arts classes in college, and totally changed the way I look at creating. I’m a writer, singer, dancer, and actress that is also a Christian.

  44. Anita:

    #28 – It’s interesting you bring up “worship songs”, but the reality is, very few “worship songs” are truly worship songs. You rightly mention Mighty Fortress, as it has theologically sounds lyrics. But the recently written songs seem to focus on self rather than our Savior. And personally, these days I only listen to George Bev Shea when it comes to worship songs.

  45. What is known as CCM seems to be more manufactured than much of what passes for pop music these days. Instead of creating original music with honest lyrics, a lot of it seems to imitate whatever is selling at Walmart with safe lyrics written for the Christian listener.

    For an honest musician who happens to be a Christian and is not shy with expressing his faith through his lyrics, may I suggest Wovenhand? Check them out at http://www.myspace.com/wovenhand

  46. Michael,

    I think you have a pretty accurate take on this. I don’t care much for most Christian songs either. There are a few contemporary songs my church does that I actually like, but very few. As bad as the lyrics are, I think the music is usually worse. Usually, I rank most of the songs by which ones I dislike the least. But it’s appropriate to sing something in church, and singing secular music in church feels inappropriate.

    One group I’m a big fan of is a little known band out of Australia named “Sons of Korah”, but they don’t write any of the words, they set the Psalms to music and do a fantastic job of it. Other than that, I don’t listen to any Christian music outside of church.

    I’m not opposed to listening to secular music, but the thing I struggle with is the old I.T. concept of “garbage in, garbage out.” Meaning it doesn’t matter how good the hardware and software are, if you’re putting bad data into it, you’re going to get bad data coming out the other side. Similarly, if a Christian is putting garbage into their eyes and ears, bad things are going to come out of their heart. There is stuff I used to listen to as a non-Christian that I won’t listen to today, other stuff I will. But for better or worse, I find myself listening to a lot less music than I used to.

    I may try to look into a few suggestions people have made here, hopefully I’ll find something I like.

    Mark

  47. I do think we have to be careful not to be too denigrating towards CCM and today’s worship music. I’s easy to fall into the idea that we’re above all that drivel. We should remember that the music written today may really be the cry of a worshipping heart, not just “crank-out-another-song-to-make-another-buck.”

    I heard a song on Air1 yesterday. Heard it twice in fact. It struck me as pretty lame and poorly written, though I suspect it’s a “hit.” It was by a known guy, but I can’t remember who. Anyway, I thought “Maybe all this lame music won’t seem so lame when we’re gathered at the throne of God. Maybe we’ll rejoice with every expression of worship and praise.”

    And maybe we should learn from C.S. Lewis, who wrote this about the churches he attended:

    I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

    I think it’s dangerous to dismiss today’s (or yesterday’s) music as shallow or self-focused or theologically weak. I’ve heard too many people say “They all start with ‘I’…” And yes, many of today’s songs do, just like many of the Psalms.

  48. CMP

    I did indeed recall you writing this before… can’t recall my comments back then, but with a bunch of teens hanging around here’s some stuff I’ve been diving into for the last several years.

    Pillar
    7th day slumber
    Kutless
    Skillet
    ….

    Someone already mentioned Switchfoot and Flyleaf.

    Coming from a guy who’ll play “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for” and “Comfortably Numb” (Floyd) right before “Shattered Life” (7th day slumber), I’ll go back and forth.

    But then again… I also have an iPod playlist for every single Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven symphony loaded on it… I’m not sure I’m a good reference base ;-)

    My main question is this. Consider we live in a fallen world, with hurt, pain, loss, …. If our writings and music are a reflection of who we are, why can’t it reflect these painful things and how we struggle with them ? Ultimately we know it all points back to our redeemer and our hope in Christ. So as with anything else, it’s a balancing act. I feel that most mainstream Christian music tends to gloss things over. So even though I have a bunch, I’ll only play it on Sunday morning on my way to church ;-)

    In Him
    Mick

  49. I just got reminded of my “righteous” anger when Amy Grant converted to “secular”. To me then, she had sinned. How could she! Now I look back in shame at my immaturity. But I am so glad that I have now come a long way … the way of grace!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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