I once wrote a post titled “What should Church Music Sound Like?” The natural sequel to such a discussion, to my mind, has to be concerned with what worship should look like…
This may seem like an odd question to some, but it’s pretty straightforward really. When we all sit or stand in our churches those of us blessed with eye-sight are unavoidably looking at something or someone. And the trend in latter times towards what is termed “contemporary worship” has been towards watching a performance up there on the stage: how cute the girls and guys are, what they’re wearing and how they have their hair; how impressive the guitar licks and drum rhythms are; how cool the light show is; how expensive the sound system is.
There are times when the worshipers are not heard-not necessarily because the band is too loud but because the congregation isn’t singing-they’re too busy watching the performance. In a really bad scenario you will get a dirty look from those around you if you do sing loudly.
Well excuse me, but I can’t help being one of the few voices to raise an alarm here. Who are we supposed to be worshiping: Jesus Christ, or the band? I’m not against the principle of guitars and drums etcetera. What I’m against is the idea that we-the congregation-have to be entertained and impressed. I know for a fact that some people go to church because the music has a “great beat”, or because the vocalist is “cute”. Eventually that “cute” guy leaves his wife and goes off with one of his admirers.
I’m sorry, but that just makes me gag. And on a more spiritual note, it makes me sad and frustrated because the entire point of church is being missed. It’s not about entertainment, it’s about loosing our life to become Christ-like, and so to gain it. It’s about giving all our worship to our Creator: the almighty, omnipotent God and His Son, who alone deserves it all and requires it all.
Alright, I can’t expect churches to do it my way, but let me give a little example of what I personally think church music should look like. For me the most moving and uplifting moments of corporate worship have been when the musicians-at floor level-were obscured by the believers all around me (and I say this as a musician myself-I don’t want to be noticed if I’m playing in church). There was no visual focus, and no sensual stimulation: it was just me, God, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, lifting up our voices far above the music, singing a song written by someone who had been moved to write from his or her own experience with, and view of God. The music was good, yes, and part of the worship, but it was the accompaniment to our worship-not the reason for our presence.
What is “great music”? The term is often used as though there were fixed universal rules about what it should sound like…
I thank the Lord that no such rules exist, apart from the fact that music, as with all we do, should come from a heart of faith, and should glorify God in some way.
If you asked a thousand people on the street what great music is you would probably get at least a hundred different answers. I recently heard an interview in which the host-probably a senior-gave praise to the crooners of fifty and sixty years ago (Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, etc.). These, he said, were the greats, unmatched by anyone since. Elvis Presley was “not a singer”, he was “just there as a celebrity package to make someone some money”. If such commentators had their way we would all still be listening to Perry Como today.
Currently on Christian radio and in many evangelical churches the term “great music” is applied unconditionally to “contemporary” Christian music-the kind with guitars and drums and handsome guys and beautiful gals with “great voices”. I resent being told that it’s “great music” for the reason that I resent having my tastes dictated to me, and because I don’t agree that it’s great at all. I’ve heard and played a lot of music in my time, and I know what I like and what I don’t like.
Your idea of great music may be very different to mine, as hard as that is to imagine, and what I consider great music would probably be nothing more than a pointless noise to you. I understand that, and I know that my tastes are “out there” to almost everyone. But what about the people who like classical, jazz, drum and bass, metal, rap, opera, electronica, or dare I say it-hymns? Do they all have to jump into the melting pot, the great lowest-common-denominator of the music world, and like what they are told to like?
In churches where the hymns have been trashed (or versions with a back-beat substituted), a one-style one-genre form of worship has taken over, as though everyone has the same musical tastes, and as though we all agree that this is what makes “great music” and great worship. The new regime-the new status quo-intentionally excludes any form of variety, variation, deviation, experimentation or competition.
It’s wrong of worship leaders and ministers to take the praise of a few admirers after the service and conclude that everyone loves it that way so that‘s the way it’s going to be. Plenty of Christians sit in church keeping their different ideas quiet for fear of being considered “un-cool” or of causing friction, and plenty of others stay home instead of attending church, partly because they don’t agree with the church’s idea of “great music” and “powerful worship”. Guitars, drums, expensive hair-styles and a back-beat do not necessarily make “powerful worship” any more than a triangle and a kazoo do: it’s down to other factors such as the spiritual condition of the worship leaders and musicians- are they seeking God in humility, holiness and repentance?
For the life of me I can’t understand why Christians have it in their heads that experimentation in music is sinful and worldly! Surley God is the Creator of imagination, not Satan. And would it not be honoring to God to use that imagination? I don’t mean make the two-chord four measures longer, make the snare louder, and use a lot more heavy breathing in the vocals: I mean how about something really different as an expression of God’s creativity for those of us who have more imagination.
Some people think that in order for music to be acceptable in Christian minds and circles it has to contain wall-to-wall easy-to-understand lyrics based on the gospel or personal testimonies in praise of God. While it’s always good to praise God, if that’s the case our clothes, our cars, our walls and our gardens should be similarly marked with Bible verses. If it’s true, then the Lord made a mistake by making clouds which have no words on them at all, let alone Bible verses, and by making space completely black, and by making waterfalls which fail to speak in plain English and are woefully out of tune. Patterns-on floor tiles for example-should be shunned by the Christian, since they don’t give a clear Biblical message, and flowery shirts and pin-stripe suits should be avoided at all costs because the markings are devoid of Christian phrases.
Whatever you call “great music” is great-for you, and thank the Lord for it, but don’t expect me to smile hypocritically at just any music imposed upon me, or to get emotional about something which I find boring, clichéd and unsatisfying.
Please, if we must be “contemporary”, can’t we get off the rails and begin to be creative, in honor of our amazing Creator?
This is one of my earliest recordings, written in salutation to a book which helped me understand some of the weaknesses and fallacies of the theory of evolution – “Darwin’s Black Box”, by Michael Behe*. Darwin thought that the cell was a little black blob of jello,, but even now its stunning intricacies are still being fathomed.
Of course, atheists give the book a one star rating because they don’t want you to read it, and evolutionists have been desperate to trash Behe’s work. You can find answers to their counter-claims online quite easily. Don’t expect “Discovery” or “National Geographic” to be impartial on such works-we’re in a war of worldviews, and the establishment has the upper hand.
Again, the bass is an important part of this music-so crank it up!
Greetings fellow aliens! Here’s a track I recorded with my wife Mathilde ten years ago. I wrote the lyrics and the music, and she sang. We recorded under the name “Positive Charge”, and the song was part of an album called “More Power”.
Personally, I think it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard, but then, I’m biased. Any enterprising muso out there-please note that the song and the music are copyrighted. I’m particularly proud of the bass line-so crank it up…
“BECAUSE HE DIED” (Refracted Recordings)
You can download this track and other tracks of mine at this site:
Revolting against taxation without representation, against brutal control from afar, and against a lack of freedom in general, founding fathers of the United States made such statements as this one:
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Now, just a few generations later, Americans slouch on the couch as their tax burden continues to climb (remember that one supreme-court justice swung the court’s power behind Obamacare by calling it a “tax” *). Their representatives, busily spending their taxes, are increasingly distant and out of touch. They are numbered, filed, scrutinized and directed from before birth to after death, as their phone calls, emails, texts (and blog posts) are recorded and scanned. Thousands more laws are created annually. Americans get deeper and deeper into national debt, spending money that even their grand-children haven’t begun to work hard for yet (17 trillion dollars and rising) and deeper and deeper into personal debt, while only a few are aware or caring of the fact that:
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
Socialism is not the answer to this problem, because in it you will still have a ruling elite who take your money and your freedom to line their own nests, while preventing you from prospering.
In a land which once prided itself on freedom of speech, voices are increasingly silenced by political correctness.
Patrick Henry and his contemporaries would be horrified to see the results of their blood sweat and tears. A modern version of Henry’s statement may go something like this:
“Give me liberty or give me at least two hundred channels”.
I rarely like songs – I prefer instrumentals – and this song isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of newness. But it’s refreshingly relevant and really hits a spot with me:
(EVO-LUTION “Society of Today”- KL Dark Recordings)
CHRISLAM OR CHRIS-SPAM?
Every way you look, humanity is searching for lowest common denominators, and this is no exception. “Chrislam” is a present-day attempt to merge Christianity with Islam, or at least to find common ground and bring the two together in harmony.
Islam holds that the Trinity is a blasphemous heresy, and that Jesus Christ was a prophet only. In direct contrast the Bible, written long before the Koran, states very clearly that
“No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23).
It tells us that Jesus, the Christ, the “Messiah”, called himself the “I AM”, a title only God can ascribe to himself (Exodus 3:13-14). Jesus said:
“I tell you the truth…before Abraham was born, I am!”(John 8:58)
Jesus was crucified because of his claim: the unbelieving Jews had Jesus killed because he made himself equal with God:
“Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’
‘We are not stoning you for any of these…but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” (John 10 31-32).
“Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied…
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered (Matthew 26:63-68).
Further than that, Jesus said:
“…if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Only the Son of God can pay the price of sin. The deity of Christ is not something you can toss away to suit your agenda.
And if you throw away the Bible’s testimony, you’re wandering into the territory of creating your own religion or cult…of creating God in your or someone else’s image. But don’t tack the name of “Christ” onto it in an attempt to buy respectability. You can’t join the gospel of Christ and the beliefs of Islam without denying both.
COME ON DOWN, PLANET X!
Some alternative thinkers out there somewhere believe that there’s a huge, unwelcome and unseen member of our solar system, nick-named Planet X. It’s a brown dwarf – ignored, denied and hushed up by the government and NASA. Planet X, they say, is on a near-collision course with earth. In the next year or so, say its followers, it will pass by us so close as to cause enormous tsunamis, earth-quakes etc., devastating the population of our frail little home. The ruling and super-rich elite are in the know, and busily building shelters for their own survival (I can believe that part).
Well, after looking around at the world of men my view of Planet X is this: let it do its work-it’s time to start over anyway!
BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO OLD HYMNS?
Am I the only one to feel this way about hymns, or are they really being hijacked and then brutally abused? After declaring hymns to be out of date, out of touch and boring, the “Contemporary” Christian music industry digs them up, sticks a rhythm onto them- usually half-timing them (i.e. slower) – and gets a handsome guy or a cute gal to sing them with enough melodramatic huff and puff to pop (excuse the pun) a weather balloon .
At Christmas time it’s now almost impossible to sing a rousing carol without watching some wanna-be pop star watching you back and wondering why you aren’t wiggling to the beat.
Please, if you can’t revere the song and its inspiration write your own, don’t cash in on someone else’s!
COME BACK SMAUG-ALL IS FORGIVEN!
I wonder how many pet lizards have been named “Smaug” in recent months? My son’s Smaug, a bearded dragon, hasn’t yet learned how to breathe fire-unfortunately. I say “unfortunately” because it’s been so cold here a few fire-breathing dragons would be most welcome. Whatever happened to global warming?
There’s been a record increase in the polar ice cap:
Not to worry-I’m sure dear Mr. Gore and his pals in the Whitehouse are keeping toasty warm anyway, as they plan more taxes and laws to impose upon us in order to “combat climate change”, and as they BLAME THE ARCTIC FREEZE ON GLOBAL WARMING!