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Thoughts On Christian Music

April 14, 2007

Christian radio stations and musicians tend to feel their music is uplifting and inspirational.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find nothing of the sort.

I have this habit, when I’m riding home from Greg’s house, to always turn on this Christian radio station in my area, SpiritFM, and listen to the new Christian music that is out.  I personally cannot listen to it for a very long time.

What is it about it?  There’s really two main factors I find in all the top Christian music.  There’s either:

1)  Incredible Vagueness (Ex: Holy is the Lord, Praise His Name, Worship Him, …)
2)  The World sucks, but Jesus is with me

The remainder of this entry I’m going to elaborate on these two factors, and my thoughts on this music.

II.  Vagueness – Praise and Worship music

There’s really so much to say about Praise and Worship music.  I personally hate it.  I go to church every Sunday, and have heard this kind of music for so many years I have so much to say about it, but really, I’m too lazy to write out everything about it, so I’ll just give some overall highlights.

The first thing you find, is if you’re equipped with a few basic Christian buzz phrases, “Holy is the Lord”, “Praise His Name”, “Worship Him”, “Your Glorious Name”, etc, you can whip up a “worship” song in a few minutes.  They are all the same, and are all equally vague.

Everyone loves to sing ‘Holy is the Lord’ because it is vague.  Nobody knows what “holiness” is.  You ask a minister and they will tell you it is “righteousness” before God.   Basically it means perfection.   All you’re saying is, “God, your morals and your ways are perfect.  You are ‘holy'”.  Great.  Wonderful.  They all sing God’s ways are perfect, but how does this help us any?  If God does not come down and teach us his morals and his ways, in detail, then we’re not any better off than before.  Of course, they’d all tell you that God communicates to them.  They lift their hands during ‘worship’ and God’s powerful anointing comes in the room, and God speaks to them, and tells them what to do, and how he loves them.  Honestly, I think the only thing speaking to them is their own imagination.

I watch Christian television preachers sometimes with my mom, and I love to hear them speak.  They say things that I know are blatantly wrong about things.  Take Joyce Myers for instance (Who has a huge TV and radio ministry.. HUGE).  Joyce was talking about hearing the voice of God during prayer.  She one time said that God will tell you what’s going to happen in the future of your life, but at the same time, it’s up to you whether or not this reality ends up being manifested, as it’s your own choice to choose God’s will.

C’mon, that’s ridiculous.  She used this same logic on ‘prophetic’ words.  These prophets you see on say TBN, when they give a ‘word’ over someone (supposedly predicting the future of their life to come), and it doesn’t come to pass, it’s not that the prophet was wrong, oh no, it was the person’s fault, because if they were walking in God’s “perfect plan”, they would have done the “right” actions, and the prophetic outcome would have come to pass.  I don’t think it takes much thinking to see how this gives so-called prophets a license to say anything they want to, and not be accountable to anything.  “Thus saith the Lord my child…[fill in the blank]”.  I take these “prophets” words very lightly.  I don’t think it’s God at all.

One time I was at a visiting church service and a “prophet” there wanted to give a “word” over me.  I went up to the front, and off she went.  She told me the woman of my life was going to come very soon.  Also, “great change” was going to happen in my life very soon, and I was going to make all new friends.   Interesting.  I thought, well, if it happens, then I’ll believe it was from God and respect your word.  If not, God will deal with you later when you stand before him claiming to speak his word.  Did it happen?  Not at all.  I never met any woman within the next few YEARS I even wanted to date, and also, to this day (some 5 years later), all of my main friends are the same as they were in high school.  We can all believe there may be “true” prophets out there, but really, who knows when to believe any of them?  I get tired of hearing them ramble.

Of course this gets even more interesting.  I encourage all of you to watch television preachers or teachers.  You’ll always hear something to the effect of, “I was praying the other night, and God REVEALED to me [fill in the crazy doctrine they think God told them]”.  What’s going on here?  These are people who do not want to study books and have logical arguments and reasoning behind what they believe.  No, they want God to just come down and reveal them deep knowledge, and they want to shine as this beacon of glorious light for all of us to look upon and say, “He is so holy.  God talks to him.  Since God spoke to him, there is no way he could be wrong.”  You often find however, even after these people say, “God Revelead this to me”, that they are completely wrong.  God never revealed anything to them.  This was all some massive concoction of their imagination. They could have heard from God, but watch out.  It looks to me like they’re trying to ride on God’s name to claim anything they want to say, and give themselves credibility which they otherwise would not have.

This is the patten you find all throughout history.  There’s always been some sort of priest or religious class of people, who claim to be in right standing with the Gods, and because of their own special standing, God (or the Gods) speak to them and tell them secrets about the world that only they know, because they are worthy of these truths due to their holiness.

Anyways, back to Christian music.  Let’s paste in the top Christian music song that has been on the top charts for for over 2 years now, “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin.

“How Great Is Our God”

The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

After listening to a song like this do you really feel like taking on the world?  Do you feel inspired?  Uplifited?  I don’t.  Why does it inspire these other people?  Well, this is their attempt at conceiving perfection.  They believe that as they sing this song, they are in the perfect will of God “praising” him.  They want to feel his “presence” (another thing you see in their songs).  Lifting their hands represents them surrendering their wills to this divine power.  Most Christians have a belief that when they stand spatially near to God, that they will feel this power run through their body, and take all the pain and sadness away, leaving only happiness and joy.  It’s not uncommon to find Christians running to and fro looking for the next “move of God” where they can feel this manifestation of energy within the congregation, where they think God is standing somewhat in their midst and they can feel this powerful energy.

This sounds like escapism to me.  Psychologists have shown that how you view the world heavily determines how happy or depressed you will be with life.  These people have depressive worldviews, and instead of changing that, they want this mystical energy to change them instead, and leave them in pure joy.

The reason this music inspires them is because they think on their own subjective thoughts of perfection, love, and goodness, and then they say that these qualities exist within them, and this perfect, loving being is right there loving all over them.  I argue, however, that just because you sing a little song, and trick yourself into thinking you’re now perfection (or at least inside of you somehow), you are not.  Only knowledge will cure your problems.  You have to study business for your businesses to succeed.  You have to study relationships for your relationships to succeed.  You have to study government for our nation to succeed.  Without wisdom, the people will perish.  You’re not in God’s perfect plan and desire by singing songs in some revival somewhere.  God wants you to manage your affairs with discretion.  Jesus said to love God was to love your fellow man.  Jesus was continually talking about taking care of your family, doing quality work on your job, loving the unlovable, helping the poor, taking care of the widows… What happened to all of this?  This is what Jesus would call his perfect plan, not singing ‘praise’ and ‘worship’ music.  I truly believe singing these worship songs are a far far secondary thing in God’s eyes.  (I cannot deny that books in the Bible, such as Psalms, say to sing songs of praise to the Lord).

Being thankful to God is important, and I think that’s what these songs are supposed to be about.  These songs aren’t in themselves bad, I just hate how many Christians look at them.  Praise and Worship leaders invent these philosophies that try to make the worship music into some mystical powerful thing.  My mom has a video set on the dining room table and it’s called, “The Secret To God’s Heart: The Power of Praise”, which is about praise and worship music, and how this is some sort of secret to getting what you want from God.  Maybe so… But Jesus already gave us this key – loving our neighbor.  Helping the people in need of help… (Ok, I’m done..) I think they’re making a sort of quasi-religion out of something that is much more simplistic.

In summary, you find in these ‘Holy is the Lord’ songs, vague conceptions of perfection, and no call to action on their part.  This is why they like it.

III.  The World is Awful, but Jesus is with me!

I remember turning on the radio and hearing the announcer on SpiritFM say, “Hey everyone.  It’s Finally Friday!” (apparently a buzz term he uses every Friday to indicate:  “Hey I know you hate your job and your work, but let me shed a little light of Jesus on your day!”).  I don’t hate my work.  I never think, “Yes, it’s finally Friday!  Now I can stop studying my books…”.  That’s why this radio is not inspirational to me at all.

On a Wednesday I heard this same guy say, “Hey everyone.  It’s Wednesday.  You’ve made it halfway through the week.  Just another 2 days to go!”… Same theme.

Socrates said, “I call that man idle who might be better employed.”  This announcer could learn some wisdom from this quote.

After you hear these depressing views focusing on the negative of hating work, then you’ll hear Christian news start up, “Hello everyone this is SRN news… So and so organization is trying to promote some agenda that is anti-christian.  We must stop them.”  This is… NEGATIVE.  This is focusing on what the world is NOT, instead of focusing on what it IS.  That is the very definition of negative.   Is it any wonder why I spend my time studying philosophy and science, instead of hearing these guys singing their vague worship, depressing news, and announcers who obviously hate their job as well?

Now if this all isn’t enough – We’ve just heard the depressed announcer, the depressing news, and now it’s time for… The depressing song!  There are so many Christian songs out there that promote a theme of “The world sucks.  Only God can take me out of this misery!  Oh, it’s so awful!  God save me!”
Here is one such song, that was a HUGE hit (which tells you how the Christian community actually thinks).

Bebo Norman – “Disappear”

On a day like this I want to crawl beneath a rock
A million miles from the world, the noise, the commotion
That never seems to stop

And on a day like this I want to run away from the routine
Run away from the daily grind that can suck the life
Right out of me
I only know of one place I can run to

Chorus:
I want to hide in You
The Way, the Life, the Truth
So I can disappear
And love is all there is to see
Coming out of me
And You become clear
As I disappear

I don’t want to care about earthly things
Be caught up in all the lies that trick my eyes
They say it’s all about me
I’m so tired of it being about me¦

I would rather be cast away
Separated from the human race
If I don’t bring You glory
If I don’t bring You glory
If I don’t bring You glory

Any psycholgist will tell you this song is an escapist song.  They want to escape this word and run to another.  Whatever happend to Jesus’s quote, “I came to give you life, and to give you that life more abundantly”?  These kinds of songs play ALL THE TIME.  I can’t listen to this stuff.  Throw in a little “Bring you glory” in the end, and now a normally depressive “emo” song has become classified as Christian inspirational music.

Let’s take another song.  This song is another top hit that is still playing on Christian radio right now.

Casting Crowns – “Does Anybody Hear Her”

She is running
A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction
She is trying
But the canyon’s ever widening
In the depths of her cold heart
So she sets out on another misadventure just to find
She’s another two years older
And she’s three more steps behind

Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even knows she’s going down today
Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that’s tucked away in you and me
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?

She is yearning
For shelter and affection
That she never found at home
She is searching
For a hero to ride in
To ride in and save the day
And in walks her prince charming
And he knows just what to say
Momentary lapse of reason
And she gives herself away

If judgement looms under every steeple
If lofty glances from lofty people
Can’t see past her scarlet letter
And we never even met her

He is running
A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction

I can’t relate to this music.  This song is also focusing on the negative aspects of life.  It’s basically saying, “Life sucks for you doesn’t it?  Try Jesus”.  But if life does not suck for you, then all this music is just an annoyance.

There are lots of people with messed up homes out there, I acknowledge this fact, but these homes are a creation by free will people.  If the person makes up their mind to get out of it, they’ll get out of it.  Leave it behind, and let’s give “the crap life” as little substance as possible.  Why are all these songs focusing on life’s garbage, instead of focusing on the good life?  Of course, they would tell you this is “out reach”.  Maybe so.  Just don’t expect me to listen to it and certainly don’t label it inspirational.

Let’s take another top Christian hit, labeled as “inspiration”.

KUTLESS – “Sea Of Faces”

I see the city lights all around me
Everyone’s obscure
Ten million people each with their problems
Why should anyone care

And in Your eyes I can see
I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world
Lost in a Sea of Faces
Your body’s the bread, Your blood is the wine
Because you traded Your life for mine

Sometimes my life it feels so trivial
Immersed in the greatness of space
Yet somehow you still find the time for me
It’s then You show me Your love

And In Your eyes I can see
And in Your arms I will be
I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world
Lost in a Sea of Faces
Your body’s the bread, Your blood is the wine
Because you traded Your life for mine

If only my one heart
Was all you’d gain from all it cost
Well I know you would have still been a man
With a reason
To willingly offer your life

I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world
Lost in a Sea of Faces
Your body’s the bread, Your blood is the wine
Because you traded Your life for mine

Just one in a million faces

Sad sad music.  Depressing if you ask me.  Let’s take a few mindsets out of this song, and see what’s really depressing them.

A. “People’s lives are nothing but problems, and no one cares”.
Now because they have these underlying mindsets, Jesus has to be brought in as a perfect lover, because they don’t feel their fellow man could ever love them.

B. “I have no purpose in life”
They have set no goals for themselves, so all they notice is a vague mass of people.  Some people would look around New York city and see the magnificent buildings, the architecture, the art, the culture, etc, but all they see is a big “lost” mass of people – why?  Because their mindset has caused them only to notice this one fact, out of all the goodness around them.

C. “My life is trivial”.
Trivial life.. I wrote about this is a past journal entry.  Our gigantic universe can be looked upon two ways 1) I’m trivial, nothing matters.  or 2) Wow, a big huge universe.  I’ll never run out of things to do, for all my days!  They’ve chosen the negative way to look at the matter.
Would you rather the universe be tiny and run out of things to do within a few years of living?

Millions of people around you can be looked upon as, “Hey, there’s lots of people out there.  Always someone to meet, someone to hang out with.  Plenty of friends out there, and I’m going to meet them all.”  Or, “There’s so many people out there.  They are all lost, just like me.  Helpless.  We are trivial worthless beings, rotting away.”

This is a negative crappy mindset.

I suppose I don’t want this entry to be entirely negative.  Need an example of good mindset music?  Strangely enough, it’s found in “SECULAR” music.  Take Frank Sintra for instance:

Frank Sinatra – “Come Fly With Me”

Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away
If you can use some exotic booze
There’s a bar in far Bombay
Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away

Come fly with me, let’s float down to Peru
In llama-land there’s a one-man band
And he’ll toot his flute for you
Come fly with me, let’s take off in the blue

Once I get you up there
Where the air is rarefied
We’ll just glide
Starry-eyed
Once I get you up there
I’ll be holding you so near
You may hear
Angels cheer, ’cause we’re together

Weather-wise, it’s such a lovely day
Just say the words and we’ll beat the birds
Back to Acapulco Bay
It is perfect for a flying honeymoon, they say
Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away
Once I get you up there
Where the air is rarefied
We’ll just glide
Starry-eyed
Once I get you up there
I’ll be holding you so near
You may hear
Angels cheer, ’cause we’re together

Weather-wise, it’s such a lovely day
If you say the word, we will beat those birds
Back to Acapulco Bay
It is perfect for a flying honeymoon, they say
Come fly with me, let’s fly–
Pack up, let’s fly away

This song is about taking your lover on a romantic get-away to the world’s most beautiful locations.  Now that’s music.  That’s class.  That’s living.  Listen to music like this all day, and believe me, you’ll feel better.

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