Disclaimer: The ideas and resulting actions, or perhaps the actions that birthed the ideas, found in the following post are solely mine and are not necessarily reflective upon any individual or group I have been, am currently, or will be affiliated with. As I will say below, I don’t think the corporation of KLOVE or anything like it are evil in and of themselves, but just wonder if they could be more balanced and less Jesus-is-my-boyfriend like. Also, please note: I use KLOVE as a catch-all for most popular Christian music as would be heard on KLOVE and has, unfortunately, found its way into most Christian churches. (This is for those who will just read the title of this post.) Thank you.
I grew up not listening to much music. It probably wasn’t until my Junior High basketball coach, who was awesome, introduced our team to the ultimate Christian rock album: (no not Carman’s R.I.O.T.) Jesus Freak by DC Talk. We used to have an improvised mosh pit in the 15 passenger van on the way to games. It was rather sweet, in a 7th-8th grade boy kind of way.
DC Talk was my foray into Christian music. Their album was loud, rocking, and Christian. Who knew such a combination could be found? I didn’t really listen to much else Christian, except for Jars of Clay, which I still enjoy to this very day.
When I was in tenth grade I was introduced to Dave Matthews Band and it was all done. The level of musicality (spell check didn’t do its red underline, so apparently that’s a real word) was unprecedented in all the Christian music I had heard up to that point. I made the unconscious decision at that point to not listen to much else outside of DMB.
Christian music had now lost most, if not all, of its appeal and not just musically. DMB was singing about things that had actual social weight. I didn’t realize this at the time, but looking back, most Christian music sang about “heaven”, while DMB was bewailing things here on earth. My Christian theology told me that the earth was going to be destroyed at some point and that all us Christians were going to escape it. Heaven was my goal, my end, my prize; Jesus was my personal Savior who loved me and was going to make my life great. The afterlife was so prominent that this life was overlooked.
The past couple of years I’ve been on a bit of a reformation. Spiritually I have been shut down and then brought back together. Seminary brought me to the point of actually hearing God for the first time and seeing life as a service to others and God. Christianity wasn’t just a set of propositions, axioms, and doctrines to believe. No, Christianity is holding on tightly to Jesus as he goes before us and beckons us to follow him. It isn’t safe; it isn’t for the weak at heart; it isn’t for those who want a white, Republican, suburban middle-class Jesus (to improvise Derek Webb). And since Jesus was wrecking my life so he could build me back up, he also wrecked my views of everything associated with him. Church, life, faith, service, and love (among others) are now being reworked in my life.
And this is why I can’t take KLOVE any longer: the music, by and large, doesn’t present a full picture of who Jesus is, what he came to do, and what he is doing.
Essentially, the constantly watered down version of what life is like and what it can/should be has made me give up on KLOVE-esque music. Jesus didn’t come to give us a flat, individualistic gospel. He didn’t live, die, and resurrect to get us “into heaven.” He lived, died, and resurrected to bring heaven to earth. He didn’t live, die, and resurrect to have happy-go-lucky music in which Jesus is our boyfriend.
No, he gave us a full, holistic gospel which is found in the full narrative of the Bible. The story we find there doesn’t just enable us to draw out some good life lessons or a systematic doctrinal system. No, it is a narrative that gives meaning to and translates our versions of our own narratives. It is complete in that it involves all of creation. It is complete in that we will experience all the emotions of life. Ups, down, and in betweens. Good times and bad times. And to be honest, your life will probably have more down times than anything else. Jesus didn’t call people to a life of ease; he called us to a life of sacrifice and death.
But there is hope. This is why Jesus lived, died, and resurrected: hope. Hope that this world will not always be like this. Hope that a new heavens and earth will one day be united. Hope that my good times and bad times aren’t all this life is about. Hope that even through the horrible times, which we all will face, God will be with us, even if we don’t always see him. Hope that God himself will wipe away every tear of every eye. Hope that he always sees us, regardless of who we are. Hope that God does love us. Hope of being with God and he with us.
And this is why I’m tired of KLOVE music and the flat imagination it cultivates and perpetuates. Pick up some Derek Webb, Jenny and Tyler, Red Mountain Music, Matthew Perryman Jones, Thad Cockrell, Justin McRoberts, Matt Moberg, Caedmon’s Call, Indelible Grace, Matthew Smith, Sandra McCracken, or Wes Pickering to hear some thoughtful, melodic, imaginative Christian music. Or check out NoiseTrade to get plenty of other creative artists.
Alright, my rant is over. Let me have it.