Tired of KLOVE music? Me too.; OR Flat interpretations of Jesus’ gospel no longer welcome.

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.


8 thoughts on “Tired of KLOVE music? Me too.; OR Flat interpretations of Jesus’ gospel no longer welcome.

    • Thanks for the comment, Kyle. I was curious how many guys from back in the day would read that and remember those rides. It’s funny you say that you don’t listen to much Christian music. I, too, don’t really know many Christian artists. I’ve been trying to change that, but since most stations play horrible music, I’ve been listening to NPR or lectures/sermons I’ve burned onto cds. I think in a lot of ways, listening to NPR makes Christians better suited for life than listening to Christian music. But that’s just me.
      Thanks for link. I’ve actually never seen that site. I’ll be checking it out.

  1. Scott- this made my heart ache- in a good way. It’s so hard to be wrestling through thoughts like these because it’s often a very lonely place- I’ve found at least. Actually finding a community of people that are on the same page that are interested in asking tough questions that make people uncomfortable, admitting that they don’t have all the answers, desiring to live differently, etc. is not easy. It’s hard to keep pushing when it seems like so many are okay with self-dependent, American dream Christianity. There’s so many things that we quickly justify. Actually living a multi-faceted, rich gospel can seem like a pipe-dream. It’s always encouraging to hear of others that are going through the same things.

    On another note- in reference to another blog- I said to my husband as we were watching all the Bin Laden stuff that I feel like we need to have a national showing of the movie, End of the Spear. Ha- I also had these strange mixed emotions…I wanted to be more excited about it. I almost felt guilty for my lack of excitement. I’m completely okay with justice being served, and I think death is a just punishment in this case. However, it doesn’t break the cycle of violence. It’s just the whole multi-faceted thing- from a national level- totally on board. From a Kingdom level- not so sure.

    • Thanks for commenting, Kelly. Glad to see you’re wrestling with things that are perhaps uncomfortable or outside of the typical evangelical box. It is nice to know you’re not alone. Have you been able to find a community in which you can question things? Have you found somewhere where there is a more holistic understanding of the gospel? It’s rather scarce up here.
      I hear you in regards to OBL’s death. That’s Osama bin Laden’s gangsta name, by the way. The church has become to unbelievably unaware of its Americanization. Distinguishing between the empire of America and the kingdom of God has become tougher and tougher these days. I’m going to try and write up more posts centering on OBL’s death and our Christian response. Hopefully, they can help a little.

  2. How dare you tread these waters. Just for this post, you will be required to give double the financial gift during KLoves 21 day Tele-thon.

  3. At last, somebody who understands! It’s nice to know that there’s somebody else out there who believes music about God should actually sound good and have some depth.

  4. I will agree to some extent about the Klove music selection, but you must remember what is in the world, Millions of people listen to K love, including myself. I am 59 and do appreciate what they bring to the table.

  5. @craig: Not to be contrary but I’m 54 and straining to even be in the room one day a week (Sunday) with the current “Top 40” of CCM. I’ve heard the arguments for why Tomlin/Redman/Hillsong/etc ….work for (most?) people to concentrate on worship. My personal issue is that I’m a worship musician (drummer) and for the very same reason that allows CCM to “Be all things to all people”, I am distanced from intimacy with God*. I pray through what happens in our service every week and position what I do as just that – service. Trying for excellence in execution but knowing I won’t be touched emotionally.
    The formulaic approach now permeating the Contemporary Evangelical Western Church has robbed me of vitality and involvement. I feel especially low when someone says something like “Isn’t that a great song?” A rhetorical question to be sure, but if I were to bring into the conversation how musically poor or cliche the song is they are talking about, there would be the pained faces wondering if there is truly a spiritual problem at hand.
    Paired with it for me is the level of musicianship that is allowed on the platform in the name of grace and/or budget. Not exactly Bach level. Certainly not DMB. If I threw some quality Carter Beauford style playing in, the DB meter appears and the not-so-friendly emails stream in to the worship leader. Yet the “good hearted” bass player or percussionist who doesn’t try to improve himself even to be just functional thrives as long as they keep their volume low and just show up.

    But honestly it’s not about sophisticated drum parts or the demoralizing but common fight about volume level. I have been moved to tears by music that has just an acoustic guitar or gorgeous acapella choir. It was all things music that praises and honors Jesus should be. It did not sound like (my phrase) “Hooty and the Third Day” or New Zealand’s unintentional tribute to U2.

    There IS fine, God honoring, deep music out there. I know because it occasionally comes across my path. Those moments are like an opening in the sky, sunshine pouring in. I’m hoping that the goals of accessibility, quality and creativity can come together to make the most beautiful of events: A warm, Christ centered, heart capturing event that is not cookie cutter.

    *Just a side note: If this were just me feeling this way I’d shelve it. But it’s not just me. I know this.

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