Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rise of Christian Music - Part 2

    The meteoric rise of Christian music industry left a number of rock singers and musicians ambivalent about their relationship with the larger secular music culture. These artists adopted either one of three approaches. They chose to be seperational, creating music only for ministry, integrational by not discounting the potential for evangelism but focusing primarily on Contemporary Christian music as positive alternative to secular music, or transformational, viewing music as spiritual in itself with or without ministerial purposes.

Seperational approach

    Bands like XI Saves have taken a multifaceted approach to dealing with and justifying their use of secular music in the worship of God. First, bands like XI Saves argue that God made all things good and since he made music ergo music is not inherently evil but something inherently divine. They also argue that God sings to us, and we sing to him using a variety of instruments and worship styles. Some musicians argue to this end that one can separate the mode, music, from the content or what is being said, i.e. the message. Excluding things like profanity, gratuitous sex or excessive hedonism, almost any music could have a divine quality to it. Thus, Christians can appropriate secular culture as long as they stay true to the message of Christianity.
     Some argue that Christians are also called to engage with contemporary music to reach young people and youth culture. But others maintain there are still limits to how Christian musicians ought to act. Some of these boundaries or limitations include not abusing power or status, submitting one's will to the overall vision of the band, and not isolating themselves with a woman (i.e. using their status to flirt or pick up girls). If Christian musicians act in accordance with their faith, then they might be able to engage with secular culture and not become completely “corrupted” by it.

Integrational and Approach

    TobyMac, tends to take an approach of viewing christian music positively, but ultimately more concerned with how his identity comes out in his lyrics.

    Lacrae, a hip-hop Artist who concurrently owned first, second and seventh slots on iTunes hip-hop chart, expressed his relation with music by stating "I let my faith bleed out in my music.” Lacrae defines his faith, i.e. Christianity, as an identity while hip-hop forms his culture. In this way, his music naturally takes on his faith-based worldview.

Transformational Approach

    Other artists believe that music itself can have a healing effect irregardless of explicit faith-based lyrics. These artists including Lady Gaga and Kanye West have argued that worship and music are virtually the same. Many have responded by claiming that identity, or what is in your heart is really what infuses your music with a particular power.

    While all of this is interesting, it speaks to a larger trend within popular culture to appropriate religious themes and even construct pseudo-religious values in the wake of an overall dispersal of dogmatic religion. For our culture today, we can see that faith-based music, or music as faith, is the growing trend and will continue to evolve drawing the secular and sacred crowds for each new generation.

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