Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Quit the Snark: In Defense of "Christian" Music & Being Uncool Non-Hipsters

One of the best priests in my life, a Franciscan monk named Father Augustine of blessed memory, would say in his Irish-American, Midwest voice that was just..his voice...- "Negative humor is from hell....(wait a bit.....glare at listeners.....wait a bit)...Leave it there!"
We miss you, Fr Gus! Pray for us!
But it seems that we Christians are missing this lesson. We get embarrassed when others see us as optimistic and innocent. Negative humor and negativity abound in this age, and Christians are falling into line with the spirit of the age. My evidence (very anecdotal, I admit)?..

Can we just stop it with the tobacco, please? Is this a hipster thing? Or is it a cool way to slowly waste away? So many of the Catholic men I know smoke. They like to claim G K Chesterton as their model. Well as much as I love Chesterton, he lived in a time before every single medical study says that tobacco is of no benefit to the human body...yes, I know that a pipe looks cool, but...and I'm sorry- cigarettes are just gross. And Chesterton didn't have a brood of ten children who were depending on his livelihood and support. I think it might be a dirty little secret of negativity and feeling overwhelmed among a certain group of Catholic men with children who hang out with single men and smoke and drink to claim their masculinity.  I also find it ironic that this small subset smokes to be 'politically incorrect' when President Obama, who they detest, smokes cigarettes!

But Mostly- in the tiny part of the blogosphere that I visit, there has been a little rebellion against 'Christian' music. Bad Catholic doesn't like music that is labelled Christian. Marc Barnes writes in his post '5 Reasons to Kill Christian Music': 

"1. Writing a “Christian” song reduces Christianity to a modifying adjective.
The well-intentioned creation of the Christian genre deems Christianity as equatable with as any other genre, like “Easy Listening”. Thus our earth-shaking, intellectual and faithful assent to the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is degraded into a choice amongst equally labeled choices: “R&B”, “Rock/Pop”, “Christian”, “Soundtrack”. (Circle which one doesn’t belong.)
A Christian genre insinuates that Christianity is the modification of a pre-existing reality. “Oh, you have music? Well here, have Christian music.”
But Christianity is reality. It makes a claim that we come from Love and are destined for Love, and that this is the very nature of every human being’s existence. Such a claim cannot modify music, it can only be the reality from which all our music springs." continue at Bad Catholic....

and Blimey Cow riffed on subset of this music subset with their parody of worship music:
and Simcha published a reader's question: What is some good music for my twelve-year old that is not Christian music? I got some terrific ideas for new (to me) music in her comment box, but the question bothered me. 
Because I am not against 'Christian' music. In fact, we listen to Air One (oh no! Positive, encouraging! - I assume it is the same company as KLOVE, but we don't have that in the area) and the classical music station exclusively at home and in the car. Sometimes, I play my Pandora stations that have a mix much like Simcha's combox recommends, but I got tired of running to turn off a scary news item of no benefit to myself or the children. And yes- does my five-year old need to know the English words in Gangnam Style? Now he knows to sing 'Hey.....PRETTY lady!' I'd rather have Bible verses and cheesy chord progressions going through my and my kids' heads. 
There is a place for Bad Catholic's thesis- all music is Christ-centered so 'Christian' music is unnecessary...but...I can't wait to read Marc Barnes when he is a husband and dad. I guarantee his opinion will change when he catches his precious little ones singing 2025's Lady Gaga equivalent of 'Alejandro.' 


  1. That praise and worship song parody is awful and hilarious.

  2. Did he put in the "fire" line? I think I missed it.

  3. I listen to the music in my car too. It really is absurd to criticize human expression. Saints through the ages have been writing music and poetry as a way to express love for God. I guess it’s pious in our day to bash anything nonlitrugical or anything the protestants are doing and this is shameful. Its human expression and nothing less.

  4. Ric- I usually listen to classical...but if I come across Queen...the radio WILL be blasting...I pray that it isn't too scandalous....but I can't help myself

  5. I'm with you on the love of Christian music, and am happy to help my kids love it. I also wrote a kind of response to Marc Barnes' critique. To me, it read like, "Why I, personally, like Mumford & Sons better than Chris Tomlin."


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