December 30, 2005

"My kids aren't going to relate to Jesus Christ the same way we do..."

"And that's to be expected because Jesus Christ is your own personal lord and savior," says one mother who's accepting of the way teenagers these days shop around for a church that's more exciting that the one their parents take them to: "At New Life, ... the youth group sessions feel like rock concerts: T-shirts are on sale outside and bands are onstage, grinding their way through screaming songs of praise for Christ while teenagers dance before them."

46 comments:

ALH ipinions said...

Perhaps these kids are just getting back in touch with the pagan (and eclectic) origins of Christianity....

Rock on! Chant! Meditate!

bill said...

Maybe this explains the church around the corner whose sign board read "Like guitars? Then join us Sunday" one week and the next week, "Like drums? Then join us Sunday".

Why not just say "Like Brittney Spears? We got whores in the bible!" Yeah, that'll fill the pews.

j3sdad said...

"At New Life, ... the youth group sessions feel like rock concerts: T-shirts are on sale outside and bands are onstage, grinding their way through screaming songs of praise for Christ while teenagers dance before them."

I immediately got a visual of that scene from The Ten Commandements when Moses/Heston brings down the tablets and witnesses a 50's Hollywood version of an orgy.

Tony said...

Except in the Catholic Church. The trending of young people is toward a more authentic worship experience (somewhat more "traditional" than their hippy "spirit of Vatican II" parents inflicted on them.

Gratia Dei.

David said...

As long as the 'message' doesn't get lost in the 'medium'. Remember the play JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR? The more things change the more they stay the same!

Dave said...

Talk about not relating to what the New York Times writes about...

Rick Lee said...

If you think that religion is real, then don't you have to believe that it is divorced from form? Why is one type of music or one form of worship more holy than another? Just as with Bible translations, aren't all forms of music new at some point? If you think that religion consists of a set of traditions (rather than a real relationship with God) then you must resist change. When I was a young, hip "Jesus-freak" in the early 70's, we loved to quote the founder of the Salvation Army who said "Why should the devil have all the good music?" Now that I'm a 50 year old geezer-in-training, I find that I love the oldest Christmas Carols and hymns and reject all the new Christmas songs from Springsteen, etc.

John(classic) said...

When we were kids my Mom believed that we ought be exposed to all religions, so we were dragged off to every church and temple imaginable.

The worst? Quakers in Pennsylvania. Condemning a 7 year old to sit in silence on a hard wooden bench for an hour while waiting for someone to be inspired is the child's version of waterboarding.

The best? Black, rural South Carolina. Warm, inviting, joyous. When the music was going, you could feel the floor vibrating.

My favorite all time? Twenty years ago in the Outer Hebrides our bed and breakfast hostess took us to her Scots Presbyterian church, maybe 30 people -- no musical instruments, no images, no makeup or jewelry on the women. Said the minister in the prayer after asking the Lord's aid for their missionary in Africa, "We also ask, Lord, for your special protection for those among us today who are possibly more exposed to the sins of the world than are we."

I have subsequently felt a litle extra protection in my life knowing that the prayer of that church is with me.

Our landlady was flexible. After cautioning me that if I went fishing on Sunday, people who saw me would be likely to gently and politely remind me "It is the Sabbath", she also mentioned that it was appropiate to take a walk and see the splendor that God gave us. Leaving the road and going over the hills would bring to me be a beautiful place -- streams and ponds. She would lend me her hiking staff, which happened to extend into a fly rod.

Religion is an individual and a cultural thing. If the kids find that it improves their life, more power to them.

Robert said...

Amen, Tony.

Finn Kristiansen said...

I agree with David in that it is fine so long as the message is not lost in the delivery. I have been in churches where the musicians, talented and given free range, end up turning the "worhip service" into a kind of smooth jazz fest, making the choruses unsingable by the average audience member.

But Christian music has long since been "rocking", though it was usually relegated to special concert nights at most churches. I remember back in the early seventies (I was so much older then, I am younger than that now) when contemporary Christian music started to appear after a wave of talented musicians became born again.

While people and (groups) like Phil Keaggy, Petra, Fireworks, Larry Norman and even Barry McGuire produced great Christian albums, there was a contingent of Christians who, if white, were locked in on, say, the Bill Gaither Trio (southern gospel) and if black, fixated on traditional black gospel and hymns. And whether you were rocking for Jesus, or for, uhm, Satan, there was sin in your loins and ears simply cause you were...rocking.

Dion Dimucci (yes, from the Belmonts)has a great Christian album called "Only Jesus", where he sings "All those years I spent, trying to be free, but what did I find? Oh the past, is far behind me now, there is only Jesus". I think to the extent that any Christian/Catholic church focuses on how Christ changes your heart-then all else can be fine.

Make a joyful noise unto the lord. (He never exactly says what chords or rythm to use, or what instruments to NOT use).

jeff said...

At a worship conference last year (where you learn how to make your worship better - including instrumental sessions and multimedia presentations) one of the leaders made the comment that after a generation of praise music, today's youth were coming back to...wait for it...

Hymns.

Just look at the Christian Top 40 - you'll normally find at least one hymn in there, perhaps with a bit more upbeat arrangement, but the same words and distinctly recognizable melody.

Kev said...

Rick Lee: "If you think that religion is real, then don't you have to believe that it is divorced from form? Why is one type of music or one form of worship more holy than another?"

...what he said. (Or should I say, "Amen!"?)

Finn: "I have been in churches where the musicians, talented and given free range, end up turning the "worhip service" into a kind of smooth jazz fest, making the choruses unsingable by the average audience member."

As a musician who plays in church, I'm very much aware of the necessity to keep what I do as a ministry and not turn it into a gig. As the saxophonist in a worship band (not an oxymoron anymore, thankfully), my job is to "fill in the cracks" and try my best to stay out of the way of the lyrics. If worship could be expressed in terms of a cake, I'm the chocolate sprinkles at best--I'm not at all necessary, but you might miss the taste if it weren't there every once in a while.

And as a jazz musician, I assure you that I do my part to keep it as far away from that "smooth" drivel as possible. ;-)

Verification word: blcktpr--someone who lays asphalt.

Prometheus said...

I just saw a Christmas special about the life of Jesus on the Discovery channel. An historian said that there was no profane verification of the killing of newborns by Herod described in the Book of Matthew. I think an exhaustive comparison of biblical and ancillary accounts of history would be very interesting, don’t you?

Also, a question I have regarding the book of Genesis Chapter 1 (I have other questions too):

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.


Later God creates the star, sun and moon etc. in “the firmament.” Do you think that there is water beyond the furthest observable quasars? If so, does a molecule of water every 100 billion light-years along the perimeter of the firmament still constitute water or was the original earth the size of a super galactic cluster – mostly water though, with a teeny-tiny hard center of an terra-firma and, if so, does that still constitute “to divide” as “into parts of if not of equal parts then at least the same magnitude?” …or is this supposed to be an a-la mythological explanation of why the sky is blue?

Like mercury in the blood, once asked, these questions never seem to go away. If your kids have a brain and master any kind of critical thinking skills at all in our end-object-oriented public schools, I doubt they will ever come to know what an imaginary friend you have in Jesus.

reader_iam said...

Finn:

Phil Keaggy, yes! First contemporary Christian rock album I ever bought was one of his.

Man, what an awesome guitarist!

Different genre, also, I love Fred Hammond's stuff. Amazing, musically and otherwise.

Andrew said...

Promethus,

I think you are asking the wrong questions. The Bible is not a science text, and it was written for people who did not have a idea of what science even was or is as constructed by we moderns and post-moderns.

It is primarily the story of how God is trying to reach us and call us into a life that is all it can be.

I have a few friends who approach to scripture is to insist that everything in must be lined up with every bit of knowledge that we currently possess. One of my favorite example to point out is that in the story of Solomon's causing the Temple to be built we can calculate that pi must equal 3. We know this is not true, so does this make the rest of the book untrue, or the point jof the rest of the book untrue? I don't believe so.

The whole story or narritive of the book is that God is going to extrodinary lengths to love us and to try to get us to love each other.

The tragity of the whole business is that we won't listen. We keep on tying to put ourselves over each other, and to make others meet our needs in ways that people were never suppose to.

verification word: okque- a line of Okies.

ShadyCharacter said...

Prometheus, distilled jerk athiest, apparently is unaware that not all Christians are "fundamentalists" and not all fundamentalists are simplistic morons...

Open your eyes brother, there's a wider world than your narrow cynicism allows for!

Prometheus said...

Shady,

Sorry to have touched a nerve. Perhaps you’d care to tell us what brand of simplistic moron you are.

flounder said...

My "Young Lutheran's Guide to the Orchestra" says that the only instruments allowed are percussion and harp.

Prometheus said...
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Simon said...

I don't necessarily have a problem with spreading the word in a new fashion, but I do object to dumbing down, and worse yet, taking out. It seems to me that all this format-hopping encourages (or at least facilitates) people picking and choosing which bits of the bible they want to accept and which bits they want to accept.

One of the neat things about the new Pope is that he isn't afraid to reject this touchy-feely "go your own way, whatever makes you good" quasi-Benthamite crap. The theory that in religious matters you should just pick your favorite bits and reject what makes you uncomfortable is pernicious, because it presupposes that your spiritual beliefs should be carefully tailored to have the minimal demands on your own choices; that you shouldn't have to change who you are, when the entire purpose of religion is to do precisely that: to set standards and goals. The chances that the answers to the cosmic questions (why are we here? Who is God? What does he want from me? What's my place in the world? etc.) are going to, by incredible co-incidence, all be answers that you're comfortable with and that make no demands on your lifestyle preferences simply can't be taken seriously when the proposition is considered baldly. You can't simply hope that you, alone, your preferences, are perfect. You've got to have something to keep you accountable, something external, something bigger than you and your own opinions.

Put another way: if your religious views don't make you slightly uncomfortable, if they don't make demands on you, if they don't compell you to conclusions you might not have agreed with before you started believing, you might want to ask yourself a really important question: "wow, isn't it just really coincidental that God thinks the same way I do?"

(There is an obvious correlation here between religion and judicial philosophy).

I think King of the Hill had an episode which handled this thing pretty well. The problem with the church's habit of jumping on every trend is that, well, trends change. I guarantee you, in ten years, people are going to look back on nu-metal the way people now look back on Culture Club - at best, kitch, and at worst, just fucking awful. When that happens, all this Christian stuff styled after the latest trends is going to be tarred with the same brush, and so just as people will roll their eyes at Linkin Park and say "man, I can't belive I liked that stuff", they'll say the same thing about Christian music patterned after it (POD and that sort of thing). Trends are, by definition, transient. When you're talking about people's immortal souls, that shouldn't be hitched to something that's here today, gone later today.

reader_iam said...

Simon:

"[W]ow, isn't it just really coincidental that God thinks the same way I do?"

Perfect!

Can I steal it for use in my real life?

Prometheus said...

The Bible is not a science text, and it was written for people who did not have a idea of what science even was or is as constructed by we moderns and post-moderns.

…hence all the factual error.


It is primarily the story of how God is trying to reach us and call us into a life that is all it can be.

…like, for instance, edifying us with explanations as to why the sky is blue. (see above or Genesis ch.1)


…the story of Solomon's causing the Temple to be built we can calculate that pi must equal 3. We know this is not true, so does this make the rest of the book untrue, or the point jof the rest of the book untrue?

Things that are not true are false.


The whole story or narritive of the book is that God is going to extrodinary lengths to love us and to try to get us to love each other.

Love via incredible fallacy. I get it.


The tragity of the whole business is that we won't listen. We keep on tying to put ourselves over each other, and to make others meet our needs in ways that people were never suppose to.

…huh?

Andrew said...

Prometheus,

Not to be insulting, but you seem to be deliberately missing the point.

I think I really do understand your point and where you are coming from. I have had to struggle with many of the same questions myself. (I am a working scientist, 3 or 4 months away from my Ph.D) So I don't dismiss your questions lightly.

However, I won't engage in a long debate where sarcasm is the mode of discussion.

I also don't want to use us Ann's bandwidth on an OT discussion.

You can e-mail me if you are really interested in having a real conversation.

Best,

Andrew

nunzio said...

Prometheus:

We appreciate you stealing the fire of the Gods for us and all. Perhaps the Bible is a tired myth, along with Greek mythology.

Steven said...

C.S. Lewis, as Screwtape, in Letter XVI:

'Surely you know that if a man can't be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that "suits" him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.

'The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organisation should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction.'

Smilin' Jack said...

...teenagers these days shop around for a church that's more exciting that the one their parents take them to...

Cool. If you can believe that eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a 2000-year-old carpenter will give you eternal life, you can believe anything. So why not believe something fun?

Prometheus said...

Amen to Smilin' Jack! Churches "in the Now" are just an excuse for teenagers to get away from their doting but gullible parents so they can go screw and smoke pot with their peers who have sane parents.

Palladian said...

Sure, because sane parents always encourage their kids to "screw and smoke pot". Since you consider yourself to be such sophisticated men of science and rationality, perhaps you might go and read up on why those two things aren't necessarily biologically healthy choices.

I've never quite understood the delight that cynics and some atheists take from mocking and degrading other people's religious beliefs. Is it the adolescent thrill of breaking taboos? Did you grow up in religious households and so are condemned to spend the rest of your lives trying to vicariously stick it to mommy and daddy? Does your complete lack of respect for the deeply held convictions of others betray the toll that wallowing in nihilism has exacted on your ethics? Do you ever doubt your disbelief?

Science and faith are not mutually exclusive paths, nor are they capable of explaining each other's territory. As much as I disagree with the pernicious encroachment of religious beliefs on scientific principles, so I disagree with application of scientific reasoning to the domain of faith. I don't discuss my personal religious beliefs; suffice it to say that I'm not particularly religious. But I am also quite disgusted by juveniles who cannot summon enough respect for others to refrain from gleefully mocking their beliefs. Still, both faith and science are strong enough to take whatever most people can dish out, so if it makes you feel better (it's all about feeling good!), have at it! Just don't expect to come away with any respect or dignity in the process.

As for the actual topic at hand, if I went to religious services of any sort and someone started up a rock beat, I'd be out of there.

But Bach, played well? Sign me up! Mozart's Mass in C minor? Dominus Vobiscum! I'll take Charles Wesley over Petra (whatever that is) any day.

John(classic) said...

I think the Times, now reporting on christian rock may have missed the upsurge of bluegrass gospel among the young. I have noticed that advertising for festivals seems aimed, successfully, at the young, and it occasionally sneaks onto the radio. The son of friends, now a college senior is in a very popular collegebluegrass/bluegrass gospel band.

Give them an expensive education and they sing like an uneducated poor farmer!

Prometheus said...

I've never quite understood the delight that cynics and some atheists take from mocking and degrading other people's religious beliefs.

I’ve never understood the so-called taboo evoked by declaring some irrational belief part of your religion. It’s as though I could defend my belief that the earth is flat merely by saying – It’s part of my religion. – That’s what I believe. – So who are you to question it?


Is it the adolescent thrill of breaking taboos? Did you grow up in religious households and so are condemned to spend the rest of your lives trying to vicariously stick it to mommy and daddy?

Fallacy of personal attack: Demonstrates the absence of a valid argument.


…Do you ever doubt your disbelief?

Word salad.


Science and faith are not mutually exclusive paths, nor are they capable of explaining each other's territory.

Do you mean that while scientific models do not require any faith at all, faith has no constraints like the requirement that you be able to observe what you believe with reproducible experiments?

Smilin' Jack said...

Palladian said...

I've never quite understood the delight that cynics and some atheists take from mocking and degrading other people's religious beliefs. Is it the adolescent thrill of breaking taboos? Did you grow up in religious households and so are condemned to spend the rest of your lives trying to vicariously stick it to mommy and daddy? Does your complete lack of respect for the deeply held convictions of others betray the toll that wallowing in nihilism has exacted on your ethics? Do you ever doubt your disbelief?


It's not nearly that complicated. We laugh at your beliefs because they're funny. If you don't like people ridiculing your beliefs, try believing something less ridiculous.

nunzio said...

Prometheus and Smilin Jack,

Whether you believe, don't believe, or disbelieve in God or the Gods, be polite in your comments.

Palladian said...

"I’ve never understood the so-called taboo evoked by declaring some irrational belief part of your religion. It’s as though I could defend my belief that the earth is flat merely by saying – It’s part of my religion. – That’s what I believe. – So who are you to question it?"

Faith and science, as I said, cannot be explained in the same terms, and I dislike attempts by the religious and the irreligious to do so. But if you want to play this game- Do you understand string theory? Can you, in mathematical terms, correlate space and time? What about explaining, again in mathematical terms, the particle and wave theories of light?

Maybe you can. But if you can't, then aren't you taking those conclusions on faith? Should I mock you because you're too dumb to understand quantum mechanics on your own without someone telling you that their conclusions are correct? If you can't allow for faith in spiritual life (and I'm speaking of metaphysics and religious hermenutics, not of "the earth is flat" stuff, which is simply a red herring in this context), how can you allow for faith in anything you can't personally prove?

"Fallacy of personal attack: Demonstrates the absence of a valid argument."

When in distress, pedantically cite rules of debate!

"…Do you ever doubt your disbelief?
Word salad."

When in further distress, bark up a non-sequitur accusing the opponent of unclear speech! It's a perfectly correct sentence and a rhetorical question. Read it again.

SmilingJack (why are you smiling? You sound miserable!)

"It's not nearly that complicated. We laugh at your beliefs because they're funny. If you don't like people ridiculing your beliefs, try believing something less ridiculous."

If you reread my comment, you will see (should you have the necessary cognitive powers) that I clearly stated that I was not religious. Therefore, I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say my beliefs are "funny". I was merely stating my opinion of people who make nasty anonymous comments on weblogs about people's religious beliefs. What beliefs are you attacking, anyway? This is a post about religious music and styles of worship.

I don't think your style of comment is very interesting or conducive to the environment some of us come here for. I suppose that Ann is the final judge of that. If your views are so elevated and superior, learn how to present them persuasively. You wouldn't get far in either a science or theology class with your current attitude. If you just want to get a boner from making fun of people, there's a wide, wide internet out there full of such places. I suggest you go to them and leave the adults to have our conversations.

Prometheus said...

nunzio,

Frankly, I don't believe that I was being impolite. Frequently, in arenas where ideas are exchanged candidly, language that I will call illustrative serves a certain economy in the same way that a picture paints a thousand words.

The fact that you have selected a target set to chastise that, in this instance, share a common perspective, when others have engaged in this same sort of language and gone on to hoisted this “to believe or not to believe” verbiage might suggest that your have a bias in search on an argument …and still haven’t found it.

Prometheus said...
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Prometheus said...
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Prometheus said...
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Smilin' Jack said...

Palladian said...
If you reread my comment, you will see (should you have the necessary cognitive powers) that I clearly stated that I was not religious.


Actually, you said you are not "particularly religious," whatever that means. Beware:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Rev. 3:15-16

I was merely stating my opinion of people who make nasty anonymous comments on weblogs about people's religious beliefs.

Sounds to me like Jesus himself was not above such comments. Anyway, I doubt your defense is needed or desired by those who are "particularly religious"...they're on their way to eternal bliss in heaven, after all, and are surely not so uncharitable as to begrudge us heathen a few chuckles on our way to hell.

Prometheus said...

Should I mock you because you're too dumb to understand quantum mechanics on your own without someone telling you that their conclusions are correct?

...However if I had an imaginary friend that I talked to all the time, would that warrant you mocking me?


...I'm speaking of metaphysics and religious hermenutics, not of "the earth is flat" stuff, which is simply a red herring in this context...

Why, because it’s testable, like the fossil record, like cytochromal DNA, like the 3.8 billion year old light arriving from the distant expanses of the universe. You say “red herring.” I say – how so?


…how can you allow for faith in anything you can't personally prove?

Isn't faith really synonymous with irrational belief?


I don't think your style of comment is very interesting or conducive to the environment some of us come here for.

Can you be more specific about the "environment" you come here for?

Finn Kristiansen said...

Kev said...
"I am the chocolate sprinkles"


I like that-very humble. Are you sure it's not you on sax sneaking in a little smooth jazz? Gonna tell your worhip leader to keep an eye on you!

Reader Iam:

Yea Phil Keaggy is simply amazing on guitar, and his voice is not too shabby either.

Funny you mentioned Fred Hammond-the one mp3 I have of his is this song "Bread of Heaven". I was listening to that over and over again today at work. (I tend to listen to the same song on repeat, for an hour at a stretch, putting myself into a kind of sonic trance while doing data entry).

Having To Register With Blogger To Comment Sucks said...

Tommy, can you hear me?

Prometheus said...

Finn Kristiansen said: I was listening to that over and over again today at work. (I tend to listen to the same song on repeat, for an hour at a stretch, putting myself into a kind of sonic trance...

That’s fascinating. I myself am content to wash my hands about fifty time an hour.

Kev said...

Finn said: "Are you sure it's not you on sax sneaking in a little smooth jazz? Gonna tell your worhip leader to keep an eye on you!"

Jazz, maybe. Smooth, never. Those of us who play "straight-ahead" jazz don't really even acknowledge the "smooth" stuff as being jazz to begin with (among other things, it's so tightly programmed that there's not much room for improvisation, which is the foundation of jazz).

It's interesting to note that, when that type of instrumental pop (which is really what it is) started to get its own radio stations (usually known as the "Oasis" or "Wave" format) in the mid-'80s, it was referred to as "New Age" music (which also includes acoustic neo-folk artists like the Windham Hill stable and so on), but the spritual implications of that name evidently scared people off, thus prompting the change. I'd still be happy if they used a name for it that didn't include the word "jazz," because the only thing it has in common with true jazz is the (usual) lack of singing.

Am I being snobby here? I'd like to think I'm just upholding a set of standards...

Finn Kristiansen said...

Kev, that's not snobby. I would tend to agree that what you find on the "smooth jazz" stations rather distorts or demeans the term "jazz"

Prometheus:

Well at least your hands are clean then, if nothing else.

CODYLDHU said...
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