I’ve finally figured it out. Why I can’t stand Christian radio. For years, it’s been driving me bananas, and I don’t even listen to it enough to make a fair justification of why. I keep thinking maybe I’ve judged the whole industry unfairly. Kind of like cauliflower. Every now and then I figure, “I’m a grown up now, I should like this…” So I give it another bite–another 30 seconds or so of my listening time… After all, I like to know how Christians with broad audiences are representing us out there in the big world. Also, I need to stay abreast of new praise and worship music. 30 seconds…Nope. Still hate it.
It isn’t just the James Dobson and Dr. Laura moments inserted between the music. It isn’t just that they keep asking listeners for money that (I think) listeners should be giving to their churches and to poor people instead. There has always been just a little something else about the whole culture of it that does not sit well with me.
I finally decided it was not the music. For a long time, I thought that I was just a crabby old lady on the inside, and I did not like to hear all that loud, sinful music anywhere near Jesus! Or rather–I am an aging rock star and I do not like to have Jesus crammed into my good music (that was probably more like it). However, I’ve learned alot these past few years. Along with the church I serve, I’ve learned that with the right leadership and some talentd musicians, some of that stuff can add a powerful element to the worship experience.
The keyword being SOME of it. As Eric Cartman showed the world (ever the prophet, that chubby little terror) much of that music is just a pop love song with “Jesus” thrown in to replace “baby.”
And much of it is just really bad music, by people who could not make it in the real music industry, and so crossed over to the Xn frame–wherein people will listen to anything with the magic word…you know what it is…Jesus, baby.
Sorry to ramble a moment, just taking you along on my journey. I’ve had a breakthrough, people, and I want to share it! Having embraced the fact that much of the music is crap, and much of it is inauthentic crap, and nearly all of the talk is backward, fundamentalish nonsesne, I finally realized what it is about the whole industry that makes it cauliflower, try though i may to like it again.They put a big, fat I in the middle of Christianity. And not as a vowel sound. As a principle. My Jesus, baby. My awesome walk with God. How can being a Christian make my family stronger, let me manage my stress and my money better, how can I use the power of prayer to get all the things that I ever wanted. Me-I-me-I-ME!
And there it is in a nutshell. Not just the liability of Christian Broadcasting, but the painful truth about westernized religion. It is all about us. Prayer is a sears catalogue and Jesus is our sales rep. We want him on-call 24/7, but we don’t really want him showing up for dinner, know what i mean?
What led me to finally understand my ick-factor with much of contemporary Christian music, was experiencing for myself the worship value of some not-so-fanny-crosby songs, and then asking myself what made them feel more powerful and more authentic than some of the other stuff.
For me, the song that sets the bar for all contemporary worship songs is “God of this City.” Written by Bluetree, made famous by Chris Tomlin, it drives a powerful and prophetic message about God moving in our midst, above and beyond what we do, think, feel, ask for… It compels us–as individuals and as communities of faith– to move, act, and be a part of God’s work in the people and places around us. It combines adoration with a clear sense of call and direction, like any real Psalm should do. It says something about God, about me, about the world. It does not offer up a mail-order Jesus, but rather a kingdom vision for the world.
Our world. “There is no one like our God.” “OUR” God. Us. we. them. Together.
Having found this song and classified it as not crap, I know that there are others out there. New and innovative Christian music that speaks to a broader, kingdom kind of Christianity, and not the kind with the big “I” in its midst. What song speaks that message to you? Tell me, so I can download it without having to endure the Dr. Dobson sound-bites in between.
Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city… in this church… and yes, even in me. Amen.