Wednesday, July 6, 2011


When I was in Fundamentalism, I was taught that any modern type of music was bad. (“Modern” of course being arbitrarily defined and, oddly enough, changing as the years pass and some “sinful” music gets old enough to become acceptable.) Entire books were written on the nuances of what kind of music was “pure” and what kind was “evil”; many sermons were preached on the dangers of listening to modern music, especially its use in worship. I didn’t really care much for non-traditional Christian music, so that was at least an easy rule to follow. Of course, deep down, I really didn’t care for the newer Christian music that *was* acceptable either, I just listened to it because it was the right thing (and the only thing) to listen to.

Since coming out of Fundamentalism, I still haven’t been that impressed with the majority of modern “Christian” music genres. In general, I just find it to be a lower-quality version of mainstream music with some words about Jesus thrown in. Frankly I’d much rather listen to U2 or Pink Floyd than Chris Tomlin.

These thoughts started to coalesce after a recent discouraging and depressing week where I just felt like giving up on everything. That weekend, my husband and I went to a concert at a local country music festival –our first-ever “real” concert. (I know, country music, right? Sorry. I’m new at this stuff. Plus, I’m a hick.)

And you know what?

I walked away from that concert feeling profoundly encouraged. We had a fun night of singing along, dancing when we felt like it, and snuggling to the inevitable sappy love song. Honestly, it was more helpful than a great many sermons I heard in my past.

And here’s my ultimate point. Since I got out of Fundamentalism and developed more freedom of conscience in entertainment choices, I’ve unexpectedly discovered things that speak deeply to me. And I’ve come to realize that all truth is God’s truth. Not that everything out there is true, but when something resonates as true with the human experience, it’s of God. From this, I’m concluding that Christians shouldn’t be making a “Christian” version of anything – whether it be books, music, movies, pajamas, or t-shirts. Christians should just be living out the Gospel. We should be Christians writing books, not people writing Christian books; Christians making music, not people making Christian music, etc. The resultant art may or may not contain Christian themes, and may or may not contain offensive material. Sanitizing everything is dishonest. It’s not real life. The book of Esther never mentions God; multiple Old Testament books contain horrific adult material. Scripture doesn’t sanitize.

Our compartmentalization has damaged our ability to be all things to all men – not just in Fundamentalism (I’m looking at YOU, Evangelicals); a wide swath of American Christianity produces such insincere, Gospel-less drivel. Shame on us for thinking God is so pathetic that He only lives in a Christian bookstore.

Here's a more erudite and focused discussion on this topic - or if you'd prefer a more satirical approach. (Fair warning for my Fundamentalist readers on that second link - you will probably find some of it offensive on non-theological grounds. Which is rather the point.)


  1. Not sure that I disagree with your general point, but in the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I cried when I watched Facing the Giants:) I really don't have a problem with those movies. I find something I can relate to in them but I do agree they aren't as well done usually.
    On the music issue- I am certainly not down on "secular" music. However, I do find great encouragement from songs about God and our Christian walk. I have long ago quit listening to the "acceptable" stuff. I do agree that many songs are fluff but many aren't. I do tend to pick and choose from each Christian artist but I have found many songs that are very good theologically. I even have some Chris Tomlin stuff I like;) Your point is not to debate specific songs, though and I get that. I do think that there is merit and it is correct to write "Christian" songs designed to worship God. I am glad people are doing that from many different genres. The psalms are great examples of songs written about God for God.
    Hopefully, I am not missing your point. I do understand how the sanitizing of art in general makes it unrealistic. I struggle with reading Christian novels a lot b/c of probably something along those lines.

  2. Ha! Chris Tomlin! Not Curtis. You're right. Not sure where that came from, lol. I changed it. Thanks.

    And you bring up a good point - it is probably more accurate not to say that it shouldn't be done but that it shouldn't be done poorly. I didn't express that adequately in my zeal to dismiss the poorness of what is done now.

    "Christian" genres are getting better in general, I must admit. There's a world of difference between "CCM" in the 1980's and the current artists.

    I actually haven't seen "Facing the Giants". And for what it is, I bet it's fine. But when it's considered the pinnacle of what Christians produce... well, that's a problem.

    And I think music I prefer to listen to in/for worship is still determined by my Fundy mores - I prefer pretty high church stuff. But again, Bach wrote for the Church and secular artists perform it today in secular settings - because it's Just. That. Good.