Thursday, February 22, 2007

No Man's Land

I'm an avid reader of Andrew Osenga's blog. He was with a band called The Normals a few years back. He ended up playing and writing with Caedmon's Call and is now a full-time member of the group. He also does session work around Nashville. Great guy. Smart guy.

If you're a follower of Jesus Christ and a musician, this blog entry of his will have some significance for you. I should say, if you're a follower of Jesus Christ and a musician AND not stuck in the vacuum of the popular christian music scene as your only source for righteous entertainment. I thought it was enlightening and heart-felt. It's a struggle I feel all too often. I hope it's a catalyst in your mind.

So here's his blog entry from today. I've cut and pasted below, but I'd encourage you to check out his site sometime. Thoughts?


"Once again, let me say how much I love you people. I love that an actual discussion is being had, and that you don't all agree! If you haven't been around in a while I'm talking about my previous post and the comments that have followed.

In the meantime, the interview I mentioned last post has been put up, as has a review of my latest record The Morning. Here is the interview and here is the review.

I want to expound on a couple points brought in the above articles, as well as stuff I said last night. In no particular order, here are my thoughts, as always, open for discussion…

- Thanks to the bulk of you who advised and encouraged me to keep on doing what I'm doing. I appreciate that more than you know, and it's what I'll be doing.

- My big concern, however, is that people who might really like my music are turned off if they hear about me as a "christian artist". This is what the interviewer, A.L. Harper says, and it's why she wouldn't have done the interview had I been brought to her attention that way.

And she's right. Completely. I'm exactly the same way. I don't really listen to "christian" music, and if you give me some music to check out and you call it that, I probably won't listen to it. It carries with it a connotation of not being good, and of being music I won't like. That's a stereotype, but stereotypes don't spring up at random. They're hasty judgments based on previous experience, and while some are terribly wrong, they are also often accurate.

Most "christian" music I have heard, and believe me, I've heard more than most of you, will tend to be simplistic, preachy, poorly made and shallow. There are wonderful, incredible exceptions, but that's just what they are: exceptions. I've had enough experience to know that, as a genre, "christian" music rarely affects me and often offends me.

There are two major problems with a genre defined not even by lyrical content but by the religious belief of the artist. One is that the content has to be very surface-y to cover a wide variety of actual beliefs. Secondly, it makes great assumptions on the artist's purpose and allegiances.

Most people assume that "christian" music is evangelistic, meaning its a means to an end to convert people. And most people would, historically, be right. Until very recently that was the main goal of the genre.
Most people then also assume that the artist is pro-life, voted for the Bush family, has perfect kids (who will soon rebel) and that they don't drink, smoke or watch R movies. And again, they may be right. Sometimes. But not all the time. Just like any other group in any situation, people are people, and they are all incredibly unique and will continue to surprise you with what they think.

This broad canvas over every artist who professes this certain faith implies so much, and I don't want that, and that's what I want to know how to be rid of.

Hear me now: I am not ashamed to believe in Jesus. I am ashamed of Pat Robertson hijacking my faith for his crazy political agenda. I am ashamed of a President who confuses good vs. evil with "they have oil and I want it". I am ashamed of Jerry Falwell and Benny Hinn. I called Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Prayer of Jabez, a liar and a crook to his face. I would do it again today. Because he, like these other guys, is taking what I believe and twisting it for money and for power and, in their headline-grabbing foolishness, making the truly faithful and honest believers look like idiots.

This is the main reason I am scared of "christian" music. I don't want to listen to it, because I assume it will be shallow, preachy and offensive to those who don't agree. I don't want to be called it, because I like my music and I want others to hear it, without the Left Behind-reading, Harry Potter-burning stigma.

BUT I'm here, so what do I do?

ALSO there is a great need for the Church to overcome this negative image. The links I posted last night to Dalit Freedom, Compassion, Blood:Water are what we should be seeing. I wish that the image people thought of when they thought of Christianity was feeding the poor and freeing the oppressed instead of picketing gay-rights parades.

That is the main reason I play for Caedmon's Call. They are a "christian" band, without a doubt. And they're doing amazing things for the people in India, and they're getting the Church involved, using music to get in the door. That, to me, is incredibly worthwhile.

So I'm left with this: I don't want to play "christian" music if it means I'm expected to believe and act one way and only that one way. I don't want to NOT play "christian" music if it means I have to do the same thing with an opposite set of rules. I guess I stay where I am and make the best music I'm able.

But I don't want to just "let the chips fall where they may". Again, I have a wife and two very adorable little girls to care for. And I would like my music to have a bigger, wider audience. Suggestions? Opinions? Further discussion?"

Currently reading : Soul Cravings By Erwin Raphael McManus Release date: By 14 November, 2006

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