Friday, December 14, 2007

Does Christian music suck?

What kind of person asks this question?

I'm a Christian, and I like some Christian music.
I didn't used to, but it had nothing to do with the music.
I just thought that Christian culture was uncool.

I was hanging out with some punk rock kids that I knew that just happened to be Christian (they may have been closet Chritians).  They were really complaining about Christian music.  They said that it all sucked and that music inspired by the Holy Spirit ought to be the best music in the world (blazing new trails in music for the secular scene to follow).  They accused Christian musicians of just copying secular music, the unforgivable sin for art snobs.

Argument 1. Christian music is derivative of secular music.
a. secular music is derivative of secular music.  Name any secular artist and a good critic (or the artists themselves, if they have integrity) can tell you their influences.
b. people that like a certain genre (like say, pop music) tend to write music in that genre.
c. if you don't like contemporary pop music, you probably won't like contemporary Christian music.

Argument 2. If Christian music is supernaturally inspired it should be the best music there is.
a. what do you mean by 'best'?  It's totally subjective.  I once thought that Einsturzende Neubauten was the best because they pushed the avant-garde envelope the furthest.
There is plenty of Christian experimentalist crap and a bunch of pop stuff too.  
b. Just because you don't know about it doesn't mean it doesn't exist (hmm, there's a spiritual metaphor in there).
c. Is Christian music supernaturally inspired?  I don't know, sometimes I have felt that God was speaking to me through a certain song, but I think it would be stretch to include that in essential doctrine.  Also, there are plenty of secular tracks that have inspired profound thoughts and feelings about my relationship with Christ.
Here's my conclusion.
There are Christians out there that hate their own community of faith.
Maybe for good reason.  There is not much room for people from sub-cultures or counter-cultures in the mainstream church.  That sucks.
I sympathize, but attacking Christian culture (even if is bad) won't solve anything for a displaced Christian.

In defense of Christian music, you can't criticize it the same way you would criticize regular music.  

Genuine christian music is supposed to be more than music, it's supposed to be a catalyst for worship, an intimate expression to God (and I don't mean that euphoric mass hysteria that the big budget performances offer).   It's sad that a lot of people are missing out on this, or worse, excluded.  

Before I would listen to Christian music my girlfriend gave me a mixtape of Christian ska.  I threw it in a corner and forgot about it.  Then she went back to school and I missed her terribly, so I started listening to her tape.  There was a song on the tape that was somewhat silly and had simple lyrics but it changed my life.  There was a line that said, "He loves you and He would rather die than live without you."  The words themselves are quite nice, but when I heard them I received the words in a powerful way.  It was like I was unhinged from time and I felt as if God made the totality of existence just so that He could have this one moment to tell me that He loved me.  It was a painful euphoria, I couldn't talk about it for weeks.

Sometimes I hear my 18 month old daughter sing.  She's not a good singer, she sucks, but it is the most precious sound that I could ever want to hear.  It brings more joy to my life than any Misfits bootleg or Skinny Puppy remix ever did.  It affects me because of my relationship with her, it's personal, but I wouldn't expect anyone else to be affected.  I guess those are my thoughts on Christians and Christian music.

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