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There’s no such thing as Christian music

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By Eric Blauer

“Our definition of art is the breaking open of the breastbone, for sure. Just open-heart surgery. I wish there was an easier way. But in the end, people want blood, and I am one of them.” -Bono, U2

Deep down I think we’re all vampires in need of the blood of meaning, passion, truth and purpose. For many people music is the tender neck, full of life which we sink our incisors into and desperately try to draw out the life force found in it’s notes, melodies and chords. We are brought more fully to life by music, it’s the gift of audible resurrection. The bards of our time are the oracles of our modern Delphi. We are drawn to the power of human experiences woven together in song, presented to us on instruments, played with skill meant to speak to our inner lives with animating voice.

For a Christian, music is one of the most profound embodiments of worship. The biblical admonition to sing invites us into a profound place of encounter, experience and expression.

“O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” 
-Psalm 62:8

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” -Ephesians 5:19

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”     -Colossians 3:16

This act of worship is both vertical and horizontal, it’s why Christians have radio stations that play music made by Christians. It’s a medium meant to encourage, equip and evangelize. Music is the means and the medium of telling the most important stories and share the most holy of invitations, to know and make known, God.

This endeavor hasn’t always succeeded in creating music that this is the most accessible to the masses. It’s often the breeding ground for shallow sentimentality or heavy handed churchiantiy. Art often gets lost in the commercialism of consumerism. What is left, is too much music that sounds all the same, lacks a visceral reality to it or smells like cheap knock off brand perfume, good,  but not as good as the real deal.

For people of the Christian faith, there is no ‘Christian music’, there’s only good or bad music made by Christians. This calls for poets, singers and musicians who are modern prophets called to speak to the most sacred, serious and sensual realities of life. Good music isn’t about sanitized narratives, syrupy christianized love songs or overly redacted life stories that expunge all the dirt off the roots of our lives. Christian are invited to make music that should awaken us, speak for us, guide us and unlock us to become more fully alive.

“God gave us preachers to remind us that we will not live forever. God gave us poets to remind us that we’re not dead yet.” -G.K. Chesterton.

The truly human life, which is a truly spiritual life, is a vulnerable, dangerous and shattered life. Prophets and poets dare to speak out-loud to those who often would rather live in silence…the silence of feeling, of heart and mind. Music from Christian’s should be an oracle of reality that forces people to respond to truth, the truth of how we really feel, think or live.

Unfortunately people, especially religious folk, often have only stones for prophets because they force us out of the shadows that we live in. Poets drag out the heart kicking and screaming and compel her to wail, to weep and to prophesy, to slit her throat on the knife of brutal truthfulness. Honesty strangles herself with her own hands, it’s a Greek tragedy for sure; but a necessary death that testifies that there are still those who know how to really live.

Thanks to music I can testify that I am not dead yet.

Join SpokaneFAVS for a Coffee Talk forum on “Faith and Music” at 10 a.m., May at The Community Building, 35 W. Main Ave. Blauer is a panelist.

 

About Eric Blauer

I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob's Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on 'that' side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.

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3 comments

  1. Nice article! I appreciate the call for music that is emotionally bold. I think there’s a place for pretty much every kind of music in this world, but many of my favorite bands — for example, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and the New Pornographers (I promise, nothing about their music is pornographic!) — appeal to me because there’s such emotional heft to what they do, even if the emotions conveyed are joyful.

  2. Liv Larson Andrews

    What a fantastic Chesterton quotation!

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