In which strong objections are made to a certain musical group and other thoughts manage to surface in this small and (for the most part) silent pond
The other morning (ie. night) my soul was torn out and run through a food processor. Actually someone scandalized my ears with a CD entitled “Apologeti-X”. There I was: minding my own business, making bread, when what should happen but Christians should go around being stupid, record the idiocy, and make money for it. The CD consisted of Christians “gospel-a-fying” secular artists including but not limited to Queen, Em&m, Monkees, Limp Bizkit, Van Morison, Linkin Park, Three Doors Down, ah-that’s all I can bear. I recognized other radio music but I don’t know names. I looked up their website and it turns out they think they’re pretty darn funny. They describe themselves as “The Christian Weird Al Yankovic”. The banner flashes on the screen “Biblical Parodies of Rock Hits”. In the Question section of the website, they answer the question “Are Christian Parodies Sacrilegious?” There they meander through some psuedo-quasi-defense of Rock music and then defend their ‘apologetic’ by appealing to Paul’s description of ‘becoming all things to all men’. Right. I bet they’ve even got the same boxers as Fred Durst.
The thing that sickens me is not that I have any intimate attachment for the music they were imitating/making fun of (read: mutilating). Some of it I like, some of it annoys me, some of it’s trash. But my stomach sinks and churns for their lust for the shallow glitz of modern pop music, the stupidity of the lyrics (“I gave it up for the crooked” “This is the story of a squirrel”), and most of all how they turn many of the songs into ‘how-to-get-jesus’ tracts. Their website continues: “The biggest blessing for us is that people come back to us after a concert or listening to one our tapes or CDs and say: “Now, when I hear the original song, I can’t help but think of the new Christian words.” The lyricist Jackson adds: “We try to incorporate as many Bible verses, facts and verse numbers into our songs as possible. I am absolutely delighted when people come back to me and tell me that our songs are helping them to memorize scripture.” These people obviously don’t think about what they’re saying. They’re doing parodies of “Great Hits” by changing the lyrics to Bible stories and 1-2-3-jesus-is-my-boyfriend-drug. Taking all this together, it sure sounds (and looks) like they are parodying themselves and consequently our Faith. If I’m a pagan, I’m thinking ‘hey look! stupid Christians making fun of themselves!’ Of course none of this is new. I listened to my fair share of ‘Christian’ music in high school, and I remember the scene.
So as to not end on a sour note, I must at the same time insist that Christian musicians ought to make the best quality music they possibly can within the genre of their talents. The solution to stupid Christian music is not no Christian music, although the comment of one of my Christian co-worker’s: ‘I’m not allowed to listen to Christian music’ seemed rather inviting at the time. The syrupy and shallow, snuggle-with-the-world-fest of most Christian music is obviously not building the deep culture and glorious Kingdom that we pray for. At the same time, an up-tight, high brow disdain of anything that sounds remotely modern and Christian isn’t helpful either. One of my friends, Jamie Soles, does a fun (and fine) job of retelling Bible stories for kids set to music. Obviously this shouldn’t replace the psalms and hymns of the Church, but until someone does a better version of some of the most gruesome (and humorous) stories in scripture (Siserah, Jezebel, Ahab, Haman) without the usual Kinkadian glow in every thought, Jamie’s my man. So my rant here isn’t a universal indictment, rather, a stated aversion to a particularly pointy finger that found its way into my eye. And just to make it clear: Apologeti-X is one of the many children and grandchildren of Charles Hodge, RC Sproul, and Francis Shaeffer, to mention just a few of the names on their reading list. So if you see us at a party and anyone asks, they’re with me. And that’s why I’m writing this.