February 23, 2009

it is or it isn't (a disjointed rambling)

Reading some the Pandora comments for an artist (Plumb I think?) I noticed someone asking in frantic caps "IS THIS ARTIST CHRISTIAN??????" To which someone else replied with "What does it matter if you like it?" Now I can understand some of the question because honestly some of the songs that come up on Pandora I thumb down simply because the lyrics are so contrary to my beliefs that I can't enjoy the song. On the other hand when Harry James comes up on Pandora it doesn't even cross my mind to wonder whether the band playing "King Porter Stomp" was lead by a born again Christian. The whole horn section could have been Rastafarians, and it wouldn't make the song any less enjoyable. On the other hand some people (mainly evangelicals with a bumper sticker theology mentality) seem to think that "Christian" is an acceptable substitute for "well crafted." It's like the Left Behind books. Who care's if they're any good? The way some people talk it's like Jenkins and LaHaye went to the Isle of Patmos and unearthed a whole nother set of scrolls. Literary quality isn't the important thing to these people. Same thing with those radioactive Kindcaide paintings. Same thing with a fair portion of Christian music. Which is not to say that a large portion of secular or mainstream music isn't pure musical chaff. But jeesh people listening to bad music because it's Christian doesn't make you a better Christian. It just makes you a bad judge of music. Allen and I were talking about this last night on our way to church and came up with two criteria for music (and I would say most artistic pursuits). 1. Is it good? 2. Is it edifying? Either it is or it isn't. Baring personal tastes of course. Considering my inability to understand anything said in a rap song much less appreciate it I wouldn't be likely to find even very good rap edifying or well executed.

Of course I know this opens up a huge window to talk about what is good. Some people would exclude country. Some people would exclude hip hip or techno. Others honestly do prefer Bach and Handel to pretty much everything you hear on the radio today. The window is good because it means that finally we're talking about good Christian books versus bad Christian literature or possibly even good literature versus bad literature instead of merely Christian v secular. Once upon Christian wrote the great literature of the day, wrote the finest symphonies, and painted the most beautiful women. Now we mass produce plastic WWJD bracelets. Blah blah culture, downfall of standards, etc. Are we even trying?

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