I recently came across a link to a “Christian” site called “Corrupt Christian Music” (via Sisters' Weblog, where Susan was baffled about it — I agree!). I decided to see what it was and am really disgusted about the fact that this site tries to claim it is defending Christianity. I'm not linking to it because I don't wish to help its Google page rank, but I am mentioning its name in hopes that anyone running into it might also run into this site.
Its main goal, it would seem, is to find problems with Christian musicians and pick them apart. Supposedly “compromised” artists include Michael W. Smith, Nichole Nordeman, Chris Rice, MercyMe and Sixpence None the Richer (that's a nice part of my music playlist there!). Their sins? Well, it varies, but MWS, MercyMe, Darlene Zschech and Sixpence all had at least one common sin: people in the secular world like them! <sarcasm>Isn't that a shame.</sarcasm>
Yikes! I mean, since we're Christians, that means were suppose to make ourselves unlikable, right (I'm not suggesting we conform to the world, but when the world likes stuff about Christianity, is that a problem)? I guess you could say that they are liked because they aren't bold enough, but that isn't necessarily it. MercyMe's I Can Only Imagine doesn't seem to be an attempt to hide their faith (although the site attacks it since it suggests eternal security — I'm assuming the site probably wouldn't like John Calvin then, either).
Michael W. Smith is often attacked on the issue of selling out, and it's rather unfortunate, since he actually has written about the issue. In the companion book to Live the Life (I can't remember the name of the book at the moment), he talked about his early work. He talks about how in the late 80's he tried to make a “cross over” hit. He went light on the message to try to make it appeal — and failed. Badly. After that, he realized how mistaken he was and rededicated himself before starting the next album. That album contained a song that did crossover, My Place in This World. Point of the story: when MWS stayed faithful to God, what he thought he could only do by compromising happened without doing so.
The site also attacks MercyMe and Sixpence for a really ghastly thing: they like — I can barely stand to say it — C.S. Lewis!!! Can you believe it? Seriously, that is one of the points they make. The site attacks C.S. Lewis and his fellow Inklings, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, for using and writing mythology. The site overlooks the fact that C.S. Lewis used his fictional mythology in writings such as the Chronicles of Narnia to illustrate the truth of the Gospel. I'll admit Lewis had some potentially dangerous, neo-liberal beliefs — especially about his interpretation of the Old Testament. Still, Lewis was also clearly used by God (in my opinion) and created some of the best, most concise, most important works of the 20th century (Mere Christianity, in particular).
The site also leveled attacks at Smith for starting a ministry that used a night club-like atmosphere, complete with a dance floor and live music. This is “evil” for two reasons apparently. (1) Smith shouldn't create an atmosphere like that of the world — even if it avoids the evil things, if it sortof kinda looks like something people might like about the world — it's evil. (2) Smith is targeting this toward teens — Jesus, we are told by the site, never ever targeted a certain age group, He only spoke to everyone. Is it just me, or does it actually make sense to try to use different means to appeal to different people, since a 70 year old will most likely be drawn by different types of outreach than a 16 year old? The site also attacks Smith for claiming that if Jesus was around today he'd probably be ministering in bars and other such places claiming he would not (then why was he always hanging around tax collectors and prostitutes — He, as he told the Pharisees, was on the earth to minister to the sick).
The author also attacks Smith for his past (which, before accepting Jesus as his savior) in which he was addicted to drugs (in the late 70's, IIRC). Rather than focus on the fact that Smith has repented of these actions, the author wonders how Smith will explain this to his children and points out that saying “don't do this” was what caused Adam and Eve to sin. Okay, so what does this guy want? No one can undo their past, all you can do is try to do your best from this day forward. “For there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).
The Pharisaic author levels many other attacks. The author accuses, without any information as to why, Chris Rice and Darlene Zschech (of Hillsongs Australia) of being compromisers, as well. Maybe Rice is a compromiser since he is signed up with Smith's record company, which in turn is another reason why Smith is a compromiser — his Christian music label. So Smith is a compromiser because Rice is a compromiser because… Cyclic reasoning makes it true, right?
Sixpence gets in trouble for quoting scripture too. One song is based on 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul writes about the importance of love. The author of the site quotes the song out of context to make it look like an attack on God's love or some such. In reality, it is a song that shows the singer as someone who appears to be in the middle of realizing they are just a “clanging symbol” or a “noisy gong” (those phrases are used by Paul and used in the song). Sixpence also gets in trouble for referring to wisdom personally (metaphorically, of course), even though Proverbs does the same. “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” (Proverbs 4:6)
Sixpence and Smith also get attacked for something that has been a big bugaboo of mine. They don't have enough Christian keywords.™ Overlooking the ironic that Sixpence also gets in trouble for some of their songs being based on Scripture, let's consider this attack. Not everyone of their songs mentions the word “God.” One song that encounters the site's wrath is Love Me Good by Smith, an admittedly somewhat strange song — IIRC, it even says it's somewhat strange in the cover booklet in MWS's Live the Life album. It isn't Christian because it doesn't have the word God in it. Never mind that it includes the lyric “Let us take a moment now, to bow our heads and pray,” that isn't good enough.
And this is the thing that really inspired me to write this. I'm tired of people insisting on the requirement of certain keywords or phrases needing to be said to be “Christian.” Including the word “God” in a song just to meet the world's requirements seems to be treading close to taking God's name in vain.
This week's chapters in the Purpose Driven Life fit in here. God doesn't desire our empty worship that has the right words and phrases. God desires our heart, mind and strength. If I can't worship God through even things that aren't “religious” then I'm not really having a personal relationship with God. The person (or persons) who wrote that site fails to realize I can worship God just by doing a good job at the things he created me to do.
As a writer, according to the logic this site applies (and really, many people apply) to Christian music, I'm a sellout if I write about GNU/Linux or other “secular” matters. Really, if you apply that standard to most people, they are sellouts, since very few people spend most of their time working on “religious” (in the world's view) things. Not that I wouldn't love the chance to devote my work to ministry, but if, for the moment, it is God's will for me to do a good job doing something else, that isn't selling out.
Wow. I never thought I'd manage to tie this rant to anything and yet I was able to relate it to the 40 Days of Purpose… not bad, huh?