Month: April 2014

Take off the Cut-off’s

Christian theology drips from the secular music scene. Wonder if they know it…

My wife and I love this song from John Legend. The production value of the music and the ensuing video leave no wonder to how artist these days get over 70 million hits on YouTube. 

Besides having the talent to write his own lyrics (and sing them so well), play an actual instrument and produce his own videos, John Legends’ “All of Me” resonates so well with us because of the place in which it hit’s home: the heart and soul. People want this in their marriages. They long for the level of commitment that’s highlighted. They applaud the selfless mentality of loving your spouse despite flaws, and committing to that person with every ounce of their being. This is the epitome of a Christian marriage, and spot on with our theology.  

Not enough can be said how, in our capitalistic society, quality is rewarded. We look for it in everything, from underwear to T.V.’s, movies to sunglasses. This is where the success stories lie. Legends’ video is a prime example of how an artist can promote their message effectively by means of embracing the importance of quality. We gobble up this type of entertainment for the same reason we gobble up good paintings. We see a level of professionalism in the way they market themselves, and this brings a sense of comfort to us. Many of the leading artists today understand this fundamental idea of what the consumer wants and the results can be seen by the millions of people who listen too, and purchase, their product. 

I used to work in banking. When handling peoples finances it is of the utmost importance to make them feel that they are dealing with a professional. People come looking to throw their money at products and, in America, everyone has the right and opportunity to supply that product and capitalize off of their skill. If I were to walk into a meeting with a prospective client wearing a John Deere shirt and cut off khaki shorts, chances are they will not take me seriously and now I have damaged the opportunity to sell my services. Contrarily, if I show up to that same meeting wearing a sharp looking suite the client would feel like they were dealing with a real professional and my chances of success increase. Simple? I know… go figure. So why do we assume that anything less should be applied when selling music? John Legend has over 70 million hit’s because he’s wearing  his suite to the meeting, while so many up-and-coming artist put on their John Deer tees expecting the heavens to open and rain down YouTube manna. If you want to be taken seriously you need to set the customer at ease with quality production of your product. Not cut of khaki’s. 

Don’t get me wrong, one can have the top video equipment in the industry and still fail. People are also looking for substance. We want to connect to our music, to revel in it and live by it. We love music so much because of the inner desires it strokes and the feelings it brings forth. Nothing is more powerful then a good song. This is another reason I believe “All of Me” is so successful. It completely promotes the Christian worldview and the emotions, thoughts and feelings associated with it. Since God has written His laws on our hearts and made Himself known to every living creature, music that falls in line with His word resonate as very real on the most base level of humanity. 

In a culture where traditional marriage is under heavy assault, I find the irony of a song that encapsulates the rich Christian stance on marriage, being so heavily embraced by the secular culture, a tad amusing. 

Throughout the entire song we are reminded of the sacrifices that we ought to make for the benefit of our spouse. How counterculture is this? Today people have adopted a very relative form of love that leaves no room for sacrifice. The mantra of the day is to pursue happiness at all cost. The notion that we should devote all of ourselves to another, and accept that person totally, is foreign… unless you’re a Christian. The Christian understands these principles very intimately, and the pagan agrees with us.

Everyone, whether they study their bible’s or not, understands the need for the Christian worldview. Without it we would know nothing and any assertion of self sacrifice or unconditional love would have no meaning to us at all. Songs which pull at the heartstrings would fall on deaf ears because there could be no accounting for emotions such as love, fear or hate. This song is bursting with good theology about godly love. Christians understand that life is more about other people than themselves, and that, in marriage, elevating our spouse’s feelings and happiness above ours is commanded by Jesus for a successful marriage. I wonder if Mr. Legend understood this while writing a song to such a selfish culture? I wonder if he knows how much of a theologian he is. 

Christian musicians could take a note out of John’s book. They need to understand that they have the only message that people can understand, the only words that will effect the soul, and they need to take of the tee-shirts and cutoffs and focus on producing that message in ways like Legend- with quality and class. 





Still Happy?

You don’t really care about happiness.

You don’t care about your happiness, and more importantly, you don’t care about others happiness.

Topping the billboards this week is Pharell’s “Happy” song, which is very indicative of what the mass want to hear in the secular realm of pop music. Stick with me and allow me to explain why you’re a solipsistic individual who cares for nothing less then self gratification and personal elevation.

Harsh words? I get it… I was there too.

What makes a great song? The lyrics? The beat? A combo of the two? Or a soothing, lulling effect that the combination of the two have on our conscience?

Music penetrates the soul, it reaches into us and pulls out the hidden affections, passions and desires we have for our life. Simply put, music shapes us, and we determine our music on how we think we want to be shaped. We bend our knee to the ever shifting culture trends and apply the assertions of that trend to our life. How sick is this? How does a man like Pharell top the charts with a song that talks about happiness, and, in my opinion, turns it venomous? Answer? Very, very simply. He appeases to the mentality of the masses of our day.

People crave happiness. They desire it simply to tell other people that they are, in fact , happy. They do this without understanding what true happiness is. Which breaks my heart, and should break yours.

The lyrics of the song are extremely important to understand. The opening line reminds us that “happiness” is a crazy notion in today’s world and that we should all “take a break” to grasp this foreign concept. The only issue is, it’s not foreign. It reigns. It is supreme, and touted as the mantra we are expected to adopt should we truly want to be happy, and that is, happiness for the sake of happiness. Get it? Yeah, neither do I.

But what is happiness? He goes on to tell us what happiness is, and apparently, that is feeling like a “room without a roof” whatever that means. I’m sure the new age gang would jump in and say a lot of words about a “free spirit” or some other non-sense, that, in all actuality, makes no sense whatsoever.  The hook goes on to tell us that happiness is the truth. What truth might that be oh wise rapper? Unfortunately this “truth” is never expounded on and leaves one to invent what their happiness is. After all, everyone should be happy, right? This is where this song appeals to the most fundamental desire of this generation. This is why you see so many young people on social networks telling people that they should live their life as they see fit and pursue happiness without worrying about those pesky naysayers because, “ain’t nobody got time for that”! If I could sum this train of thought up in one word it would be: crap.

People who hold to this line of thinking obviously haven’t considered the ramifications of their assertion. Take for example a child molester. This person finds happiness in the most perverse manner that one’s mind can conjure. Or how about the necrophiliac? The truth of his happiness is defiling corpse. Should we encourage him to purse the truth of his happiness? Why, no! Of course not! we shout. But how can we limit this behavior with such an obscure and ambiguous definition of happiness? How do we differentiate who should be allowed to claim happiness as their truth? The progressive movement runs into issues with this, what shall we call it, common sense? Go figure.

This is why most of the people bouncing their head to this type of music care only for themselves and couldn’t care less for the person who’s happiness resides in something other then their definition of happiness.

This is solipsism.

This is hypocrisy.

This is “Merica!

These type of songs are appealing because they exalt our personal desires. They, by popular demand, elevate our deep seated longing for feel goodness to the forefront of society, and therefore pacify our conscience. After all, if this guys rapping about it then happiness must be the truth, right?  Only if that happiness is what I say it should be… duh.

The mainline hip hop music today drives itself into the most self-centered aspect of our personality, which is why they sell records, top charts and influence the culture so much.

Christian music penetrates the soul in a completely different manner, which is why the world, for the most part, hates it. There’s actual substance, an eternal message and a call for self denial. This is the foreign message of today. This is courageous. This is honorable. This is happiness. What a novel idea it is to make music that, ya’ know, edifies, builds, encourages, teaches and influences positive behavior. Weird.

This is no surprise to the Christian. We are told that the world will hate us. Imagine if we had record labels that had the courage to promote our message with the same tenacity that they push the relative happiness message. Unfortunately God isn’t hip, and grace doesn’t sell. How backwards it is. There are many talented people on the hip hop plane who have unparalleled skill. Take IV Connerly for example, or Andy Mineo. These men, by any standard, kill it! The beats, lyrics and message are superb. Why don’t we hear of them more? Simple… they talk about Christ and Christ is offensive (not like having sex on a surfboard or shooting your enemy is offensive, those things are honky dory).

At the end of the day it behooves us to closely examine what we listen to because our music shapes us. This isn’t a new thought, but one that needs to be brought into the light these days. Please refrain from telling people you wish them happiness when you really mean that they should be happy according to what you deem happiness is. Understand the ludicrous notion you have to embrace when a moral and objective foundation is tossed to the wayside to pacify your selfishness.

You don’t want happiness.

You hate happiness.

Still happy?