Saturday, January 9, 2016

There's No Such Thing as "Christian" music...

Many times, that’s how people see Christian art, or Christians making art: They see the art as having an agenda. Christians have really used and almost in some senses prostituted art in order to give answers instead of telling great stories and raising great questions. -Lecrae

Christian music (as a genre) exists exclusively within the few insulated floors of some corporate construction in Nashville, Tennessee,”...  “Otherwise, there’s no such thing as Christian music.” -Sufjan Stevens

I started on this article some months ago but never put it up. It's a touchy subject to some, to many people it's a non issue. The idea of “Christian music”. But for me, music, like all the arts, whether it be theater, painting,writing poetry and prose or other modes of creative expression, falls into two categories: good or bad.

I've heard music labeled as “Christian music” that was really awful, lyrics were bad, music was bad and there was nothing appealing about it. I've also heard “Christian music” that was really good, good lines, good chorus, all the good clippings of music that we like and enjoy. But, to be honest, I haven't heard a lot.

I'm being honest here, you can hate me or judge me as horrible if you wish, but I don't listen to the local “Christian” music station. I have no problem with people that do, my wife does and the kids like it as well, that's just fine. But I don't when I'm in the car and I have control of the radio, mostly because it all sounds the same, there's very little variety and the lyrics, for the most part, are tedious and repetitive.
I plan to pick up this topic later, this is just some food for thought. I'm not saying my view is the right view, I'm simply telling you it's my view.  
I'm going to put a rather lengthy quote, which I have footnoted to give credit where credit is due and a possible encounter concerning Martin Luther.  

... After a cobbler converted to Christianity, he asked the German theologian how he could be a good Christian cobbler. Luther responded, “The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”
The answer, then, might not be in striving to convey the message most full of surface-level goodness but, rather, in pushing for artistic greatness. Then, once form and content emerge in harmony, can barriers be broken down and conversation begin.
Because really: no one likes a poorly made shoe.1
Jon Foreman was interviewed on the idea of “Christian music”, here's what he had to say:
To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more “Christian” than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.
Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music. None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me. I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that. We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot.
You see, a song that has the words: “Jesus Christ” is no more or less “Christian” than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge “brothers” who have a different calling.2

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