Regarding Christian music

This is a mostly-rant. Mostly-rants are when you mostly rant about something, but then divert halfway through the topic to other, more useless and fun information about things you might not have known had you not read the mostly-rant. Like this paragraph you’re reading, since I’m pretty sure you’ll know what I mean by a “mostly-rant” after this, ha. Without further irony:

With a friend a few days back, when the subject of Christian music came up.
“I don’t like it,” she said.
This was pretty surprising given that she’s the type of person people assume to give Christian music CDs to thanks to this “good-girl” image they have of her in their heads; but I kept my silence and was surprised how much we had in common on the subject. Being not guilty of the aforementioned assumption (the last CD I gave her was Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, hardly Christian) I couldn’t help but smile. And wince for all those well-meaning people.

“Not even Hillsongs?” “No, they all sound the same. Boring.” I grinned at the inherent paradox. “I get you. Too ‘direct’, aren’t they? With the same, recurrent lyrics.” “Yeah! Not forgetting how non-Christians can’t relate to songs like those…”
“What about Switchfoot?” I asked. “Switchfoot – they’re okay, I guess.” She replied.
Rightfully so. I like Switchfoot, and it’s probably one of the rare exceptions that actually don’t betray my good sense of melody – they’ve got catchy riffs, lyrics that appeal to both sides of the field as it were, a band that’s overall awesome in both doctrine and tune without going awry either way.

For the sake of painfully-hard-to-reconstruct conversations I guess I’ll switch back to narrative. So Christian music sucks, a lot of it. You might beg to differ, but I’ll leave the begging to you while I differ. In all honesty, the rate at which people devour the latest Hillsongs albums always leaves me in wonder, wonder and amazement at how something so terribly unpalatable in the audio sense can appeal to this particular demographic all because of how it’s vaguely “religious”, and therefore holy, and therefore fit for mass consumption.

Have you ever stepped back for a minute and compared what you’re listening to to “secular” music for an instant, and noticed the difference? Not the saccharine pop, trashy punk or butchered (here meaning censored) generic rap/hip-hop on radio, but real, good music.

That’s another thing that always bugged me no end. With a few, more retarded radical people I’ve had the misfortune of being briefly acquainted with, it always jarred on the nerves how they referred to any music not Christian as “secular”. Sure, now get off your high horse, freak. I must’ve been into boy bands at the time, but it struck, and still strikes me as one of the most misguided things I’ve ever heard about.

This might come as a newsflash to some of you, but no. Classifying something as “secular” and shunning everything but the alternative is nothing short of naivety, or stupidity if I might be blunt (sometimes I think it’s a necessity). What about the clothes you’re wearing, those are secular too aren’t they? Your lovely Nike shoes, Levis jeans and Giordano T-shirt weren’t made by God-fearing, bible-thumping Christians, they in all likelihood were made by sweatshop workers in China, who in turn are exploited by the godless, heathen CEOs. Maybe you should go back to fig-leaves.

Or that burger you’re going to bite in – why bother? McDonalds never was a Christian institution with Christian values. Put those Pringles down. P&G’s hardly the epitome of godliness.  Stop eating- wait, did I say stop eating? I believe I did. Stop going to the movies. The only things you’re allowed to watch: The Passion, The Prince of Egypt, Joseph: King of Dreams, and any other directly-Christian flicks that come to mind. No X-Men, no Spider-Man, no Superman.

Definitely an extreme example, but people like those do exist. I know, I know, we’ve got to accept people for who they are, their opinions, their choices, but in the same breath so do you my opinions on other people’s opinions, and choices! Which makes freedom of speech so intrinsically beautiful.

Now for the other end of the spectrum. You, the average Joe/Jane. To what ends and means do you people actually listen to Christian songs for? A perceived image boost among peers, as opposed to sinful heathens like me who’s never listened to a Hillsongs song on his own initiative outside of church? Surely, not the technical proficiency aspect, like how Altered Frequency’s got good musicians (but brilliantly unsound doctrine in their songs)? Do people even ask “why” anymore?

There’s a time and place for everything, and while I don’t mean to dismiss Christian music in its entirety – Switchfoot, for instance, is definitely industry-standard. Thousand Foot Krutch, which’s on my To-Download list, who also were nominated for the Juno awards for two consecutive years. Deb Fung, if you’ve heard of her. So there’s still hope.

I don’t know exactly what bugs me so much – maybe it’s how, in an overtly improper display of Self over God, the artiste thinks, “hey, it’s only God, we don’t have to make or write good music. It’s worshipping him, it’s a ‘personal thing’, He’ll understand!” And this thought is thusly brought down the food chain where it meets the consumer, who is in turn fed, through listening to the wretched album, messages like: If you’re doing it for God, it’s alright being mediocre. The thought counts, not the effort. Listening to and supporting awful music under the guise of ‘worship’ is perfectly fine, because you’re worshipping God, not man, and Jesus isn’t Simon Cowell. Indeed.

I remember an issue of Phases while it was still being printed, in which there was this cartoon, and a character saying “Is God really pleased at the noises we pass off as music?” No, really, is He? I’d rather put my support behind one good (Christian) band or artiste than ten horrid ones, but apparently quantity is everything. Not quality. Go us.

To summarize: step out of your shell if you’re the extremist type who only listens to “non-secular” stuff. Think about the reasons you listen to the aforementioned music. Think about why you’re fine with your Christian music sounding mediocre, or complacency in general.

Feel free to change my mind about this, though, since I’m always open for debate. (;

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2 Comments on “Regarding Christian music”

  1. jeremy Says:

    Like you’ve said, there’s still hope… there are still some really good worship songs around.. I hope and will not give up on the possibility that good worshipful songs will continue to exist in the future. One thing we must always be mindful of is that Worship always points towards God, not ourselves. Worship also requires us to give our best to the Lord… not only in songs and singing, but also out lives.

  2. Owen Says:

    I wasn’t talking about worship songs, I was talking about Christian music. Think you’ve been knocking on the wrong door…


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