Sunday, October 07, 2007

DC (Don't) Talk

I had an interesting conversation with a friend earlier in the week, the highlight of which was me being ostracized for not being a fan of CCM artist Stephen Curtis Chapman. Don't get me wrong, I have in the past been as big a SCC fan as anyone could be, when I was 12. The point of the discussion, however, was my trying to explain my aversion to the Christian culture without offending my friend who is completely immersed in it.

I am a big fan of quality music, and there are very few 'Christian' artists that make what I would classify as such. It seems that one can put out whatever low-quality music they want, and as long as they slap Christ's name on the label, it's guaranteed to sell. It's been happening for years, with bands like PFR and Petra, on to Skillet and Reality Check, and continues today with GRITS and Reliant K. Too many bands sing unoriginal, predictable lyrics over the same three or four chords. I find myself disgusted by the way they misrepresent the name of Jesus. I believe that anything that carries the name of Christ should be overflowing with originality, creativity, and beauty; seeing as how Christ is the incarnation of a perfectly original, creative, and beautiful God. I get sick of seeing t-shirts and bumper stickers that take some cliché advertisement and change the wording around to make it 'Christian.' There is no innovation, no attractiveness in the Christian culture. I cannot imagine anything more hurtful to the image of God in the world's eyes, than to see His people constantly put out run of the mill, annoyingly imitative propaganda. As the people of God, we should be all the more tapped into his perfect innovation and creativity. If we claim to be the very offspring of God, then the rest of the world should be taken back by how beautifully fresh and artistic He is through us. But instead they get Third Day, Bibleman, and copycat "Got Jesus" t-shirts.

But there is comfort in being sheltered from the world, which is why the Christian industry not only exists, but thrives. Though it seems to me that the calling on our lives to reach the unreached would mean that we have to take initiative and enter their world, just as Christ entered ours. How can we be Christ to people that we are sheltered from? How can we impact a culture that we know nothing about, because we hide from it? There is far too much harvesting to do for us to be locked away in our Christian safe-houses, with our Christian friends, listening to our Christian music and reading our Christian self-help books.

I've been trying to reconcile my faith with the lack of connection that I feel with the Christian industries that produce artists like Mr. Chapman, and the Christians that pursue them. It seems as though these institutions are in place to capitalize on a market opportunity. I would like to encourage anyone reading to dive into the art and literature and music and film of the world. There are such beautiful manifestations of who God is and how wonderful life in Him can be, interlaced in the creations of man. There is so much more beauty in Monet, Il Postino, and Pablo Neruda than there is in Tobymac or the Left Behind movies. If God is the God of creativity; if God is the God of beauty; if God is the God of truth; then why in the world do we embrace a second-rate counter culture that nullifies who He truly is? Let us embrace the beauty that is all around us and let us especially embrace His beauty that He has manifested in the culture of the very people that we are called to minister to.

For thought:
Philippians 4:8: "If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things."

Romans 14:14: "As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that (nothing) is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean."

Acts 10:15: "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

Mark 7:15: "'Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean''"


Romondo Davis said...

I hear ya. Ouch!



Anonymous said...

heeeey. didn't you wear a Jesus Reese's Cups shirt in 6th grade a lot? Haha. No judgement here.
I agree. L'Abri deals with this a lot. They make the point that it should be the church who is in fact commissioning the great artists of our day. Interesting perspective. Kind of on the same note, one of the very best bible studies i've ever been in was a 'Bible as Literature' class at Mizzou. go figure.