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.

Good Stuff to Check Out

Requiem for Katrina on PBS in light of the anniversary of Katrina’s devastation.

David Fitch on the bad habit of “going” to church. Good stuff as always.

Ecclesia-affiliated Ben Sternke on a balanced life and discipleship.

JR Briggs on a new concept for a conference based on the weaknesses of people, not their strengths, popularity, or church size.

From CNN: Teenagers becoming “fake” Christians. Interesting stuff.

New blog concerning biblical theology: Beginning with Moses.

If you haven’t heard of Red Mountain Music, you need to listen to them. Same thing for The Swell Season. Great music.

Father’s Day Wouldn’t be So without Children

This is my second Father’s Day, by which I mean my second time being a father on this day. It’s an interesting day in that we don’t usually throw too much of a fit in its name. Mother’s Day turns into a day when we take mothers out to eat, clean the house, buy flowers, and Hallmark makes a fortune. I’m guessing most fathers don’t really long for a mushy card telling of the love and admiration of our children. Not that we don’t want to hear those things, but dudes are different. Most of us don’t cherish cards unless they are some hilarious farting card or something. Those are worth cherishing.

I guess when I first think of Father’s Day I think of the relationship behind the day. We’re not fathers until we have children. We can be awesome brothers, sons, uncles, nephews, but until we find ourselves holding our own children, we aren’t fathers. The day is full of relationship and intimacy. The title “father” only stands in for the relationship between child and father. There is no other meaning behind the title. You aren’t the father of anyone else. Your children are yours and you are their father. Be it by physical birth or adoption, your children are your children and there is nothing that can break that bond. Our culture makes it easy and accessible for the splitting of husband and wife, but that doesn’t cease the love and bond between parents and children. Just because there may be a piece of paper saying otherwise, fathers are always fathers to their children.

A friend of mine recently entered into the relationship of being a father. He has entered into uncharted waters because nobody has been the father to his daughter. Sure, we who are fathers can give tips and hints, but she is his daughter and he exclusively is her father. The love he feels for her will resonate with the love I have for my daughter, yet it will be completely different because she is different than my daughter. It will function similarly, but its form will look drastically different.

Father’s Day is named for fathers because of the relationship we stand in with our children and only our children. Let us not forget the reason we have for the privilege of being called fathers. Let us love with a love worthy of being called a father: sacrificially, humbly, and unconditionally.

“I did a degree in Theology for the money I’d make on the other end.”

You never hear anyone say that. And if you ever do, they’re either lying or delusional.

To prove it here is a list from Yahoo.com where they list the least money making degrees for those coming out of college. When I saw it I thought, “Yeah right. Too bad they won’t have any ministerial/religious degrees on there.” Yet, much to my surprise, they did.

Maybe your degree is on there too. Check and see.

By the way, the money isn’t worth the knowledge, spiritual formation, and experience of seminary.

Science and Faith; Derek Webb lyrics at JesusCreed

Over at Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight blogs about the newest book on science and faith. Science vs Religion: What Scientists Really Think details the actual beliefs and faith of scientists. Give it a look and see what may surprise you.

While you’re there, check out his discussion on Derek Webb, one of my favorite artists. If you don’t know much about him, you should look into it. He’s a former member of Caedmon’s Call, whom has been venturing out on his own for the last 5+ years or so. Some Christians hate him because he’s a boundary-pusher (he even cusses in a few songs, oh no!), while others love him for his call to action and truth found throughout his lyrics. Either way, he’s a great musician and lyricist who is definitely worth the money. Check out Noise Trade to get some of his newest songs for free or you can leave a tip. Enjoy.

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton – Some quotes

“A man’s friend likes him but leaves him as he is: his wife loves him and is always trying to turn him into somebody else…Love is not blind; that is the last thing it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.”

“Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion…To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

“Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility. Detached intellectualism is (in the exact sense of a popular phrase) all moonshine; for it is light without heat, and it is secondary light, reflected from a dead world.”

“But the new rebel is a sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciations implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and the, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

“In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician. And this pointed a profound emotion always present and sub-conscious; that this world of ours has some purpose; and if there is a purpose, there is a person. I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller.”

“Of all the horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within.”

“In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures. In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners.”

“It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.”

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”

“There is a phrase of facile liberality uttered again and again at ethical societies and parliaments of religion: ‘the religions of the earth differ in rites and forms, but they are the same in what they teach.’ It is false; it is the opposite of the fact. The religions of the earth do not greatly differ in rites and forms; they do greatly differ in what they teach.

“How can we say the Church wants to bring us back into the Dark Ages? The Church was the only thing that ever brought us out of them.”

The Rise of the Amateur

One of my recent purchases from my favorite store, Ollie’s, is a book titled Entertainment Theology: New Edge Spirituality in a Digital Democracy (notice the price on the Amazon website because I bought it for $2.99!). It is part of the Cultural Exegesis series published by Baker Academic, an arm of Baker Publishing. I’ve just started, but so far so good.

In the intro Barry Taylor, prof at Fuller Theological Seminary and artist in residence at the Brehm Center, discusses the “democratization” of our contemporary culture. By this he means that people are particularly skeptical of institutions and hierarchical authorities in exchange for accepting the more common ideas concerning ethics, information, and power of the common man. He says the following: “It is also an acknowledgment that the balance of power has shifted in the culture. A growing number of people are increasingly unwilling simply to accept the pronouncements of institutions, whether they be religious, political, or otherwise, and are instead looking to themselves, to their peers, and particularly to alternative resource centers, such as Internet Websites and contemporary media, in order to create new means for grappling with questions of ultimate reality.”

This isn’t necessarily a new idea for me, but something worth reflecting upon. He quotes later from an article in Wired magazine titled the “The Rise of Crowdsourcing: The Rise of the Amateur“. Apparently, his idea of democratization has already been encapsulated in the concept of crowdsourcing. What is crowdsourcing? Think of the cultural ramifications that Youtube, MySpace, and Facebook have had here in America. There is a common maxim which says, “It must be true. It was on Facebook.” Or, perhaps even worse, it’s close cousin, “It must be true. It was on Wikipedia.” The impact of everyday people, for better or worse, has taken over our culture and impacted nearly every sector of society. In 2006 Time named the “Person of the Year” to be “You”. You and I have taken over the societal powers through our 30 second videos, Facebook statuses, and this very blog. This is crowdsourcing. Interesting and scary, huh?

What impact does this have on us? What does it say about truth, authority, and knowledge? Has the “rise of the amateur” been a good thing or no? Plenty of questions could be listed, but what do you think? Any takers?