Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm expressing my inner anguish through the majesty of song.

Okay, either I'm losing my mind or the music world is off its axis, bold as love.

I'm station jumping in my car and on MIX 102.9 (local pop station in Dallas) I hear "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me.

Earlier that very same day I had heard Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" on KLTY, one of the local "Christian" stations. I had heard it reported that they played it, but my blood still boiled when I heard it.

The latter no longer surprises me, having either personally heard or got from reliable witnesses the playing of the following on the Christian station:
  • I Need You - Lea Ann Rimes
  • If I Lose My Faith in You - Sting
  • Time after Time - Cyndi Lauper
  • Peaceful, Easy Feeling - Eagles
  • Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFarin
  • Proud To Be An American - Lee Greenwood
  • Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
  • The Living Years - Mike and the Mechanics
  • Stand By Me - Ben E. King
  • Beautiful Day - U2
  • Kyrie Eleison - Mister Mister
  • Lean on Me - Bill Withers
  • In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
  • Because You Love Me - Celine Dion
  • Love Is the Answer - England Dan & John Ford Coley
  • Where Are You Going - Dave Matthews Band
(Perhaps I'm just tender that Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" has been snubbed thus far.)

I heard two others last week that my wife could validate, but I can't remember them. I was about to come unglued and so wished I would have written them down. I just thought they were so heinous I would not be able to forget them. My bad.

Admittedly, at least some of these songs are being sung by (presumably) Christian artists, but I'm not sure that makes it a Christian song.

I also realize that for some they only know these songs via a Christian station by a Christian, but is that what makes a secular song a Christian song?

But, hearing "I Can Only Imagine" on "regular" radio motivates me to ask: Are these helpful labels anymore (i.e., "secular" and "Christian") when it comes to music? Were they ever?

1. What constitutes "Christian" music?

For me that's a more difficult question to answer than "What may I listen to?"

It's easier for me to have stuff that's "off limits" (that list may be different for others). But for me there are two things that can disqualify a song:
  • Does it promote sin?
  • Does it glorify evil?
There's a lot of gray out there, but these are two questions that I have found helpful.

2. What governs/guides your musical experiences?

Labels:

19 Comments:

At 12 February, 2008 08:07, Anonymous Lance said...

I wonder about the devotional life of a "Christian artist" who remakes secular songs, rather than writing their own.

I would hope that if I were a "Christian musician," the lyrics of my songs would come from the overflow of my heart.

But I suppose this is what we get in a nation where Christianity is an industry.

 
At 12 February, 2008 08:16, Anonymous Stephanie said...

I hate hate HATE the label of "Christian" music. I mean, we don't go flipping through the phone book looking for "Christian" plumbers, ya know? That being said, I fully believe that truth can be found in music that isn't explicitly about Christ. Personally, I find that stations like KLTY and the national KLOVE are only exploiting the name of Christ! They use his name to make money. Pure and simple. Same with Family Christian Stores. Let's see how we can commercialize Jesus.

I have lots more to say, but this is YOUR blog. :)

 
At 12 February, 2008 08:48, Blogger Michelle K said...

Actually, the "Shepherd's Guide" can provide you with a plethura of Christian plumbers, should you so desire.

: )

 
At 12 February, 2008 10:08, Blogger Timothy said...

Hi Gunny,
I find the best solution to determine what I listen to is: A. Does it come from Veggie Tales? B. Does it has coherent or incoherent lyrics. If the latter, then it's OK because I can make up my own. :) I was trying to remember some song from the 1970s that I heard last week, that I still have no clue what the man was saying. Sorry, can't remember right now.

Sorry, but this is my standard for music right now. It may change this afternoon. :)
Blessings

 
At 12 February, 2008 12:05, Blogger samurai said...

I don't think I 'govern' my music experience enough... a good blog entry today.

Thanks for sharing Gunny.

 
At 12 February, 2008 12:22, Anonymous stephanie said...

Good gracious!

 
At 12 February, 2008 14:53, Blogger AJF said...

A Christian can write and/or sing a song, but a song can't be "christian". Perhaps a song can be judged to reflect Christian doctrine/beliefs, but it's not, in essence, "Christian".

Personally, I reject the designation "Christian Song".

 
At 12 February, 2008 15:03, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks for the insightful comments.

They bring to mind a question upon which I welcome your comments.

Other than a human, can the term "Christian" as an adjective really be legitimate?

I'm thinking a Christian musician would be a musician who happens to be a Christian, but that would be different than Christian music.

I can understand a Christian plumber, but what about a Christian school? (secondary or college, private or otherwise)

If a song can't be Christian, then I wonder about a vast array of the things we attach the label Christian thereunto.

 
At 12 February, 2008 17:24, Blogger Rev. said...

There is no Christianity without the cross of Christ, and no "Christian" music without it either.

I wrote on some similar slooge a while back...

http://drjamesgalyon.wordpress.com/2007/01/03/wanted-thoughtful-music/

http://drjamesgalyon.wordpress.com/2007/01/17/wanted-heartfelt-music/

 
At 12 February, 2008 18:24, Anonymous RonH said...

Neal Morse is a Christian, and he rocks!

Plus, he did an entire 70+ minute album about Martin Luther.

Just had to say that.

 
At 12 February, 2008 18:29, Blogger AJF said...

Good question.

In the case of music, is something "unchristian" if it doesn't mention Christ or some explicitly spiritual theme? Nathan Clark George writes and sings a variety of songs, to me, none are "unchristian". What does a song have to embody to be called "Christian". Does a song that explicitly promotes something Christian make it "Christian"? How about the vast number of "Christian" songs that contain horrendous, even heretical, theology?

Putting "Christian" in the name of a school, that seems different to me. Unlike songs, there isn't such a thing as neutral education. Education is a dynamic process, not a static product (like a song). Education is either Christian (promotes a biblical worldview) or unchristian (promotes a humanistic worldview). In that way, putting "Christian" in a name might be helpful. Having said that, there are plenty of schools that call themselves Christian, that are not.

 
At 13 February, 2008 10:15, Anonymous mark t said...

I have heard recently on XM Satellite Radio,on a station called "The Message," other songs such as Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," and the B-52's "Love Shack," rewritten with music that is virtually indistinguishable from the original, but new "Christian" lyrics. Some are parodies, intended to be funny. "Love Shack," for example, is rewritten as "Shadrack," and is about the Biblical character from the book of Daniel. There is a group called Apologetix that does some of this. There is a part of me that likes some of this, because, whereas as a Christian I no longer listen to the same music I formerly enjoyed and felt comfortable with,(because I now recognize issues in the lyrics I don't want to imbibe), these kind of songs allow me to enjoy the music itself,which I don't have a problem with, but without the lyrics I don't want.

With regard to secular songs played verbatim on a Christian station, it may be that in some cases, in the original song, the "You" to whom the lovesong was originally addressed was so nonspecific that someone realized later that there was nothing to preclude that from referring to God. And perhaps, in some rare cases, it may even present a sort of beautiful depiction of the Christian's love for God.

In addition to the promoting sin and glorifying evil standards, which seem very wise, I sometimes measure a song by whether it promotes my sense of internal peace, or disturbs it. Some styles of singing and/or music immediately give me a sense of inner turmoil, disturbance. But I realize this is subjective, and that people will disagree on what they personally consider "disturbing." Some kinds of very intense screaming found in some Christian hard rock today, for example, troubles me. I have also heard singing in some "Christian" songs in which the voices were electronically altered to the point where they almost sound demonic, and yet, they sing lyrics that are probably okay. But the sound of the voice doesn't fit with the lyrics.

To go a step further, I would wonder whether some of these same standards (promoting sin, glorifying evil) could be applied to movies. I may be in the minority, and perhaps am a bit legalistic, but think about it this way. The Word teaches us that there is an evil world system that we are not to love, and that we are to remain separate from, living holy lives. We are to be in this world but not of it. James cautions us to avoid being "polluted by the world" (1:27b).

Yes, there are some entertaining and harmless, enjoyable movies produced by Hollywood, but it seems that, in recent years, carnality and worldliness have gained significant ground. As a family, we have brought home videos geared toward childen that we were looking forward to enjoying as a family, only to find that there were unnecessary profanities or double meanings, or some other unnecessary items which to me, made me not even want to watch it. These days, we rarely go to the movies, and don't have cable tv or satellite, but rather handpick certain DVD's that we watch at home as a family. I will, sometimes, turn on the tv (we get 2stations where I live) to see news, or a sporting event, or something else. But even then, I often turn it off during the commercials, which many times promote ungodly sitcoms, or contain sexual imagery. Is this extreme? Maybe. And I may be crazy or wrong or legalistic, because, frankly, I don't know anyone else doing this (but probably others are). But for me, it helps me keep my mind on the things of God. And it helps my kids stay "innocent." I don't want them becoming cynical, jaded, rebellious, etc. at a young age from seeing too many images of sex, murder, or children disrespecting adults. They will get a dose of how evil the world is soon enough. No need for me to import it into my home and feed it to them.

 
At 13 February, 2008 10:28, Blogger Timothy said...

Ah yes, I remember now. It was a Bee Gees song... something to do with Broadway. :)

 
At 14 February, 2008 01:48, Blogger GUNNY said...

Mark T,

I was hesitant to go into the realm of movies, but since you brought it up ...

I've often found it curious that one form of media is so differently dealt with than the other.

For example, I know some who would never listen to or sing anything but Christian music, however that might be defined.

Yet, they will still watch movies that are not "Christian" movies. In fact, they might even watch movies that are more un-Christian or anti-Christian than many un-Christian songs they won't listen to.


In light of what AJF shared, I'm inclined to campaign for the 3rd category I mentioned above, anti-Christian.

He used "neutral," but that might be hard to use as well.

I tend to think in terms of Christian, un-Christian (or non-Christian), and anti-Christian.

To me the anti-Christian is out of bounds. The non/un-Christian is not necessarily so, but may need a more thorough evaluation.

To me a "family safe" song doesn't make it Christian, so I'd prefer it not be on Christian radio.

That doesn't mean I couldn't/wouldn't listen to it, however, it just seems false advertising.

In other words, just because something is not anti-Christian, that doesn't make it Christian.

Recently, we sang "Happy Birthday" to my daughter. It's not a Christian song, but certainly not anti-Christian either.

I'm inclined to think that instead of a Christian singer making a secular song Christian, a heathen could sing How Great Thou Art and it's still a Christian song.

I think I would use the 3 categories above with regard to education as well.

Evolution is anti-Christian. Creationism is Christian. Algebra is un/non-Christian.

 
At 15 February, 2008 06:40, Blogger Jesus Girl said...

I have yet to hear such tomfoolery songs on K-LOVE. It is what I listen to and have been for over 2 years. I own the "in your eyes" re-sang by Nicole Nordeman, mostly because it was already on the CD when I bought it. I have not heard it played on K-Love. The music I hear on K-LOVE glorifies God and brings me into a close union with my creator. That I am thankful for and praise those who are involved that make that possible.

Tomfoolery songs on a "Christian radio station" well, I never. I would be upset if it did happen. I would let them know.

What bothers me is bands like "Switchfoot" who claim themselves as "Christian" artist and then become secular recording artists. That sends a bad message. I am concerned whereas their motivation lies in the whole matter.

I'm with you though, if it promotes sin and glorifies sin and all it's counterparts-it's not for my listening.

 
At 18 February, 2008 13:08, Anonymous stephanie said...

I'm going to NOT respond to jesus girl out of a charitable spirit... let's just say i disagree with almost everything she wrote.

The Apologetix SUCK! ugh. Speaking of capitalizing on Jesus... Barf barf barf.

And it was good to be at the Prov. :)

 
At 21 February, 2008 15:31, Blogger Jesus Girl said...

How is KLOVE using Christ to make money? They are listener supported.

I would appreciate your opinion on my opinion out of love from one sister in Christ to another. If I err, please, encourage me to be correct.

 
At 09 April, 2008 00:06, Blogger GUNNY said...

My buddy told me that this morning he heard "Where The Streets Have No Names", originally by U2, covered by somebody on KLTY.

What is up?!

 
At 27 April, 2008 23:42, Anonymous Katherine said...

Chris Tomlin did that U2 cover...a few years ago a bunch of Christian artists covered many of the U2 songs on an album titled "In The Name of Love" and the money went to help fight the poverty and aids in Africa (which Bono is a big proponent of, especially through the One campaign).

I have wondered, too on KLTY why they play I Need You and other country/secular songs-but some of the ones you mentioned I have only heard in blips for a commercial or something-not an entire song.

 

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