Thursday, March 02, 2006

Christian Rock - an after thought

Given the nature of some of the themes I post on, and perhaps because of some of the sites I link to, I have received a couple of rather interesting e-mails in the past from people who may not necessarily see eye-to-eye with some of my thoughts.

And given the rather pointed words in the previous post – and especially in the discussion that followed in the comments, I thought I’d, this time, make myself clearer and attempt to define what I mean by ‘christian rock’, so that no one need be unduly offended.

OK, here is my attempted definition: “Christian Rock is music which turns something beautiful, butchers it, and makes it into something so putrefically revolting and heinously repulsive that any normal ears would respond by sending urgent messages to the stomach to vigorously cough up its contents.”

I hope this calms any tender nerves.


At 3/02/2006 3:01 PM, Anonymous metalepsis said...

Wow if it wasn't so obvious I would think you were a Prophet!

Thanks for the smile!

At 3/02/2006 3:46 PM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...


C'mon now!!! Tell us what you really think. That was my morning wake up smile!


At 3/02/2006 3:59 PM, Anonymous Exiled Preacher said...

I am now as calm as a sleeping baby lulled to sleep by inane, yet somehow deeply unmoving rock gospel drivel.

At 3/02/2006 5:04 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

I concur with you Chris. Christian rock is neither christian nor rock. It is simply the verbal perambulations of incompetent musicians who cannot make it as pop stars so they become christian rockers fleecing the flock for a as many shillings as they can steal. It is the sort of music that turns ones mind to mush and makes one wish that the musicians would tie a millstone around their necks and plunge themselves into the sea in order to spare the offense they deliver with their vile dreckishness.

At 3/02/2006 9:34 PM, Anonymous Isaac said...

In his book Imagine, Steve Turner makes the excellent point that contemporary Christian music is so bad because the genre is determined by lyrical content. This constrains the musicians, and so they can't write songs about being humans, but only about Jesus. Art that is always coming from the same place and ending up in the same place will become stale. I don't necessarily agree with jim that all or even most christian musicians are second rate artists just doing it for the cash. The industry which defines the lyrical content is largely to blame.

At 3/02/2006 9:49 PM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Re: Chris Tilling's exception for Volker

There are always notable exceptions. But with Punk, Rap or Hip-Hop ... I wonder if the medium is indeed the message. A late friend and former colleague of mine who liked to stay "out front" introduced Rap into his worship services over twenty years ago. This was totally in keeping with his approach to everything and needless to say there were no old folks in his congregation.

If he had lived long enough he would have become an old folk himself and perhaps he would changed his tune.

I am not convinced that the medium is the message, but I didn't much care for heavy metal when Iron Butterfly was a new group and Lead Zeppelin finished it for me. Anyway, that is ancient history.


At 3/02/2006 11:31 PM, Anonymous Ben Myers said...

I once heard someone refer to "the God-is-my-girlfriend type of songs" -- I reckon this phrase perfectly sums up an entire genre of sentimental Christian songs!

At 3/03/2006 2:18 AM, Anonymous Justin Jenkins said...

I used to feel like that about Christian Rock music, when I was like 13.

Don’t me wrong, there is some horrible stuff out there, and that south park episosde really nailed it.

However, over time I’ve found a great band here and there --- and many groups which on are composed of Christians (so their lyrics end up reflecting that worldview) without being “worship” bands. I’m the type that ends up repeating songs in my head all time --- so I’ve found it much better to be repeating Christian lyrics or lyrics by Christians then secular ones.

There are “secular” record labels like Tooth and Nail that are mostly composed of Christian led Rock bands, which sing “secular” Rock songs. I suppose you wouldn’t call them Christian Bands then, but as come on ... not every Christian Rock band/artist is revolting.

It seems sophomoric to pass judgment on an entire blurry genre of music.

At 3/03/2006 3:46 AM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Justine J wrote"
"It seems sophomoric to pass judgment on an entire blurry genre of music."

I agree, but I would not use the word sophomoric. My first job out of college was working for a church sponsored treatment center for drug addicts. Most of my colleagues were studio musicians from LA who had been producing rock music for the Armed Forces Radio and TV Services (AFRATS). We spend hundreds of hours talking about christianity and the media. For some reason we got the reputation as being "experts" on the subject and were tapped for an endless succession of speaking engagements. We had a rule that no one staff member would be required to speak more than three nights a week.

When I was first exposed to "Christian Rock" is a lot like Armed Forces Rock. It is rock with an ulterior motive. That was eons ago and I know little or nothing about the current scene having lost interest in the whole topic about 30 years ago. But I don't want to trash a genre. Christian artists, if they are going to do something with a significant cultural impact, need to be world class artists.

Mediocre music is just bad art, and bad art is independent of genre.


At 3/03/2006 6:20 PM, Anonymous revdrron said...

May I quote you? I hope this display of verbal ejaculation calmed your tender nerves as well.

Gotta serve somebody, ron

At 3/04/2006 1:07 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thank you all for the laughs.

Justin, thanks for your comments. A health warning: don't take me too seriously!

To sum up, as Clay said: 'bad art is independent of genre'.

How true.

Except when its 'christian rock', of course.

At 3/06/2006 7:20 AM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...


What about "christian" fiction, I am not talking about C.S.Lewis or Tolkien, I am talking about the guy who used to live on Vashon Island forgot his name, "This Present Darkness" without a doubt the worst sample of authorship I have ever read and then we have "Left Behind" which I have not and will not read.

If make Left Behind and Present Darkness the model for "christian" fiction then we might conclude there is no redeeming value in the genre and burn all the books (Fahrenheit 451). In so doing we would lose That Hideous Strength a novel that literally changed my life.

What I am holding out for is the chance that in a vast sea of tacky beyond description "christian" popular music there will be one or two groups which will do something which qualifies as christian art in the most profound sense.

I am willing to ignore the trash and wait for someone to do it right, rather than condemn the genre to the flames.

warm greetings, Clay

At 3/07/2006 12:27 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Clay,
Yes, you're quite right about it being unwise to trash a whole genre. I was only posting 'tongue in cheek' as they say.

It's interesting that you mention Peretti's books. They were the first christian novels I read, and they helped to shape a rather unhealthy perseption of the cosmos - especially the 'This Present Darkness' and 'Piercing the Darkness (?)' offerings. The Left Behind series is far worse, I think. Well, I've only read the first, but it lacked the literary skills of Peretti.

I personally don't read too many novels, unless they can make me laugh - hence Prattchet. Now there is an author I'd recommend. Like Barth, however, I suspect he's somewhat of an aquired taste too ...

All the best to you,

At 11/29/2006 12:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 20yr old guitar player in a christian rock band.Music is not about showing off,it's about touching someones soul.I could go play secular music and make money,but my music would be pointless.I do agree that if a band claims to be christian then they need to be christians.Have you heard of Disciple?If not,then check them out.Christian rock is just people who love music and Jesus.God bless you all and dont knock it till you hear it.


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