Nate wrote:And a big problem is that even beyond this, if a Christian group writes songs that don't say Jesus or God in every single one of them, they get accused of "selling out" or "being afraid of proclaiming God" by a lot of Christians who then abandon them or turn their back on them. Not very cool.
Kraavdran wrote:So, what are your thoughts on contemporary Christian music?
Kraavdran wrote:If you have trouble with it, why?
Kraavdran wrote: Are there exceptions?
Kraavdran wrote: What makes other songs better for you?
Kraavdran wrote:Also, what is your favorite song, contemporary and/or traditional?
Midori wrote:Is it dangerous to mention politics in this thread? I think it might be, but I think we're all conscious enough to avoid making a controversy of it.
Kraavdran wrote:I am curious what you think about communal worship music culture? In other words, when you go to church and sing songs, what do you think about those songs?
When Jesus came, many thought that he would destroy Roman rule or break down the corruption everywhere. But, instead, he pointed people's thoughts to God and, particularly, loving one's neighbor. In this way, I feel that we are encouraged to modify our own actions... not the actions of others.
I feel like that comes from a more angry/fearful/complaining/judging stance.
Lastly, I think that you don't see any of these types of songs because they would not cater to the largest audience possible.
And, similar to your thoughts on why Christian bands don't sing songs that are not about God: enough people would dislike them.
Nate wrote: mean I dunno. I like music and there's definitely songs that inspire powerful emotions in me but in general the songs at worship, they just kind of exist. I sing them because that is what you do when you are at church and they say "Let us sing this song."
Nate wrote:While Jesus may not have been a rebel against the Roman government, he certainly wasn't above challenging the existing power structures and traditions.
Nate wrote: ...I can't imagine too many Americans thinking that overthrowing a government is somehow un-Christian, or else we're all living in a country founded on evil and need to submit to the British crown once again. :V
Nate wrote:I feel like that comes from a more angry/fearful/complaining/judging stance.
My response is that I don't think any of those things are necessarily bad. Righteous anger is a thing, people tend to fear that which oppresses and harms them, complaining motivates people to take action, and judging things is totally fine, it's only judging people that's an issue. :p
Nate wrote: I do however think that there is definitely a niche market for music for say, Christian anarchists or communists...I mean, those groups do exist and at least some of them probably listen to music, right?
Nate wrote: But I think here's the thing: if we're saying that "This won't appeal to the CCM audience that's why it doesn't exist" then I think that then asking what can save CCM or how it can be expanded or fixed is a pointless question. if CCM is really tied so strongly to a cultural/political/theological identity then it can't be changed. And I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. After all, you're not going to see any punk music that says to submit to those in authority and always follow the rules because that's simply not what punk is. The very essence of punk is anti-establishment and you can't "fix" that about it or change it, it's one of the central themes of the genre. So if we're admitting that CCM is much the same way in its themes, then that's fine, but it also means that it's a lost cause to try and figure out how to make it better.
Nate wrote:And, similar to your thoughts on why Christian bands don't sing songs that are not about God: enough people would dislike them.
But that's what bothers me. Why can't a Christian band just sing a song that doesn't mention God? Like a love song. We've got Song of Songs/Solomon in the bible, right? It's just love poetry. Why can't a Christian band sing a love song that doesn't talk about God, just talks about the purity and beauty of love? That's Christian, Christians love, Christians have romantic relationships. It's just silly.
Nate wrote:But I disagree with your claim that enough people would dislike them. Jars of Clay is a very popular Christian band and many of their songs don't really mention God or Jesus. In fact their first single, Flood, was played on a lot of mainstream radio stations. This probably would have been unlikely to happen if the lyrics were more in line with other CCM. But the response from some Christians was to call them "sell outs" or that they were "ashamed" of God. Still, they got a LOT more listeners by being played on mainstream radio stations than they ever would have gotten if they were more like say, the David Crowder Band. They're still basically the biggest success a Christian band has had outside of the Christian music scene.
Nate wrote: And ultimately if Christians are supposed to be going out and witnessing to others, preaching the good news, then isn't trying to have mainstream success a good thing? There were probably a few people who heard Flood on the radio, went out and bought the album, and maybe got closer to God, perhaps even converted to Christianity after hearing other songs on the album like Love Song for a Savior. Yet they get bashed because hey you're not supposed to be making songs for those people, you're supposed to be making songs for us.
mechana2015 wrote:Why do I have trouble with it? Capital C CCM all sounds the same, boring. It's Lyrically uninspiring often as well. Lower case c contemporary music? Depends on what you're including. I still appreciate some of my older bands, and others now bother me as I've gotten older, in general though similar problems still apply. Lack of interesting content. Lack of creative musicianship. It often feels like music in a box that's not allowed to play with metaphor as much because someone put a
requirement on how many times certain words needed it to be said to be on that particular record label.
Kraavdran wrote:I think that we can find quite a lot of common ground here. I am curious to hear what you think causes songs to "just kind of exist" instead of "inspire powerful emotions." I've always assumed it comes down to the lyrics and the hearts of the people (perhaps more so for the 'worship leader') who sing it.
Perhaps Christianity should only focus on the two core teachings of Christianity: To love God and love our neighbors. Anything else, theological/political/etc., might actually hinder the unity that communal worship should promote.
Sounds like, as the consumer and greater Christian institute, we could handle a bit less in the criticism department. In short, we need to chill out. People are reached by different means/methods/mediums. Perhaps, at least vocally, we (as a general whole) should be more supportive of bands who stray from the norm.
Nate wrote:For me, it usually is tied to one of two things: either memories, or an ability to sit and really take in the song as its own thing.
Nate wrote:So where does that leave worship music? Well, since God is kind of intangible and unable to be physically interacted with in a meaningful way our human minds can comprehend, it leaves God as a vague idea, and even moments where we can say that "the hand of God" was active or that God did a thing, the memory is going to be more strongly tied to the event itself instead of God. Singing about how God created the world makes me think of the world itself, since "being created" isn't something we can really envision. As for memories tied to it, almost all worship songs have the memories of "Me standing up at church looking at a lyric sheet, sometimes hoping I wasn't singing really loud because my singing voice is terrible." Not really particularly inspirational memories!
Nate wrote:For things that aren't tied to memories, it's as I said, just being able to listen to the song at my own pace, think about what I want to think about.
Nate wrote: And there isn't really an ability to listen to the song at my own pace either. Since I'm singing, my mind is focused more on "Make sure I'm singing the right words" than actually thinking about what the words mean. On top of that, especially with old hymns that may have say, five stanzas, most churches are typically only going to sing a handful of them, maybe the first and last, or first second and last, rarely all five. You're skipping a lot of the song, you're going at the music director's pace. And you can't go back and listen to a song again when it's over like I can with a Youtube video or CD where I can press the refresh button or back button, and say "Lemme listen to that again to fully grasp it." Nope, you're on to the next song, or on to the sermon! And since most people are rarely going to listen to a hymn or worship song outside of church, there isn't really any time to reflect on it or think about it. So this makes it really, really difficult for worship songs to make me feel anything other than "Yep this sure is a song I am singing here at the church for the worship service."
Nate wrote:Even that would hinder the unity of communal worship, humans are VERY good at creating divisions within groups. Let's just take your premise at face value. Focusing on loving our neighbors: will that cause division? Sure, one group says "See, these songs say we need to love our neighbors, that includes gays, we must stop judging them and accept them for who they are." Another says "Loving gays is fine, but we must refuse to allow them to come to our church, and make them know that their lifestyle is sinful and we cannot condone it." A third says "No, we must not love gays, as they seek to force their lifestyle on the rest of us and harm society, they live a destructive lifestyle and as believers we can have no fellowship with darkness."
Nate wrote:Loving God. Okay, sure, that should be the ONE thing all Christians can agree upon, right? Ha ha. So does singing praises to Jesus count as loving God? Not to Unitarians, to them, God is one and Jesus is not divine, and thus should not be worshiped. Heck, take a hymn like Doxology, look at the lyrics:
Nate wrote:That last line is VERY obviously Trinitarian theology, which Unitarians would reject flat out. The Living Church of God would too, as they accept Jesus as being God, but do not believe the Holy Spirit is an actual thing. So while most Christians wouldn't have a problem with it, some do! And now, by singing a simple hymn that you probably wouldn't think would cause issues, you are promoting theology, and thus creating divisions.
Nate wrote: A big issue though is that CCM has a very intimate relationship with Christian bookstores and music companies, and being deemed "not Christian enough" can kill a Christian band, since they may not have the money or ability to make a breakthrough into the mainstream/secular music scene, but are rejected by Christian businesses because "They're just posers." This is an actual thing that happens, and while you and I can say hey that's not right, that's how the industry works, and even if we're personally supportive of them, it's little comfort to them if they can't actually sell albums because stores won't stock their albums. This is admittedly becoming less of a problem as the internet has grown larger and more common, but it is still a slight issue since Christian bands do tend to rely on their stuff being sold in Christian stores.
Immortal, invisible, God only wise, / In light inaccessible hid from our eyes, / Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, / Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.
Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia! / Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia! / Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! / Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
Kraavdran wrote:songs that have only a few words whose meaning was lost to me via repetition
Part of me assumes that like churches absorb like people.
Kaori wrote:I feel like this thread is about two separate issues: 1) music used as worship music in church and 2) Christian music made by bands and singers who are making music because they like music and that isn't necessarily meant to be sung in church.
And there were others that I thought were way too focused on the worshipper (e.g. first-person statements) or didn’t have very much substance, and I particularly don’t miss those.
I find it very interesting that other world religions also use chant—I think that people around the world have intuitively grasped the value that it has for spirituality, for mental concentration, and so on, and it is unfortunate that so much of Christianity in recent centuries has completely thrown chant music out the window.
Kaori wrote: I feel like this thread is about two separate issues: 1) music used as worship music in church and 2) Christian music made by bands and singers who are making music because they like music and that isn't necessarily meant to be sung in church. So I’m going to address them separately.
Kaori wrote: In Catholicism it is not quite as bad because the Catholics at least have something else to offer which is not dependent upon how good the preacher is or how good the worship music is: the Sacraments. But in Protestant services in particular, there are often only two things that the parish has to offer people in its worship service: there’s the sermon, which appeals to the intellect (well or poorly depending on the speaker), and there’s worship music, which appeals to emotions (well or poorly depending on the musicians). So because that emotional experience is one of the only things that Protestant worship even has, there is an emphasis on “We have to try to create an emotional experience or a certain emotional state in/for the congregation.”
Kaori wrote: I think that is a huge mistake.
Actually, when you make it a goal to try to produce a certain emotional experience, you often lose the very thing you are trying too hard to grasp.
Kaori wrote: Also compounded with this is that many contemporary worship songs are focused on the singer, describing the singer’s emotional state or something like that, and not at all focused on God and describing who He is. (Just listen to how many contemporary Christian worship songs are in the first person, “I,” and are talking about the person who is singing, not about God.)
Kaori wrote: Worship music is supposed to be about God, so worship songs should tell about God and who he is and about the events of the Bible and of salvation history.
Kaori wrote:I really want to also talk about the body and physicality and how that should be a part of worship, but that might be a little OT for the thread, so I’ll set that aside for the moment (Kraavdan, since this is your thread, if you want me to elaborate on this, let me know and I’d be happy to).
Kaori wrote:So for now I’ll just comment that, in stark contrast to Western Christianity, the Orthodox churches have a very strong sensibility that music is not included in the worship services for the sake of creating a certain emotional experience, and there’s a strong sense of restraint in the music we have; we use a lot of chant, for example, which is just not an emotional thing, and there’s a sense of holding back in order to not get too absorbed in the music and allow the music to be an end to itself. There are some songs and some times in the services that can be extremely emotionally powerful, but it’s not because we are specifically attempting to create that emotion, it’s more like, when we finally arrive after eight weeks of ascetical struggle and penitence at the joy of Christ’s resurrection, we allow that joy to come out and be expressed.
Kaori wrote: Anyways, in terms of what our music tends to actually be like, we tend to have a lot of statements about God and doctrinal statements
Kaori wrote:I would say that the Church absolutely should teach its theology in its worship
Kaori wrote:We very occasionally have a song that briefly mentions something about our own emotions, but it’s very uncommon, and it’s been a huge relief for me, going to an Orthodox church, to not have to feel like I have to try to make myself feel a certain emotion during worship and that if I don’t feel that emotion there is something wrong with me and my relationship with God. We praise God for who he is, and if the emotion is there, great, but if not, there’s nothing wrong with that, we are still choosing to praise God as an act of the will, and that is sufficient.
Kaori wrote: P.S. Kraavdran, I saw the article you posted somewhere else about the condition of not getting pleasure from music (can’t recall the term for it) and thought that was very interesting. I kind of wonder what you would think of chant, since the point of chant music is not to create pleasure or to create a certain emotional reaction but to create a mental state of concentration—though I rather suspect that, like any other music, it would not do anything for you.
Xeno wrote: Older style worship music is okay, especially if it's built off an existing hymn, not personally a fan of "gospel" music though. Even I occasionally like to listen to old hymns just because of the music and lyrical structure that you don't find in newer CCM. As Nate said, a lot of it are love songs, but about Jesus, and they typically are lacking lyrically as well as musically. It's bland and generic, and just feels like it's there to fill a gap.
Nate wrote: Oooh, yeah! That! There was one song, can't remember what it was for the life of me, but we'd sing it every so often and it was one of my least favorite songs because it was just like three or four words repeated six or seven times and I'm just like "Yep, uh huh, okay, I get it, we can move on now." Some people really are into that but not me, it's just repetitive and dull and then my brain checks out because it's like "Whelp nothing interesting to do here, call me later if you need me."
Nate wrote: I think, to a degree, this is true, but it isn't always necessarily the case. I've known people that are fairly politically liberal who go to very conservative churches and are unhappy with them, but say "Well, y'know, church is important so I don't have much of a choice."
Nate wrote:Kaori wrote:I feel like this thread is about two separate issues: 1) music used as worship music in church and 2) Christian music made by bands and singers who are making music because they like music and that isn't necessarily meant to be sung in church.
Yeah it kinda got off on the first tangent because of Krav's question to me about worship music. :V
Nate wrote: It's a nice song! I'm not bashing the song but it's not much about God aside from the first line, but the rest of the song is about us, how we feel, what we'll do, what we'll say. And so while it's a nice sounding song I never cared for it much because of that point, especially the chorus "I want to fall in love with you." That bit makes me uncomfortable. Not in an "eww gay" way but because to me the phrase "in love" is a phrase that I personally only use to describe romantic relationships. I love my mom. I am not IN love with my mom, that'd be gross. And honestly I don't want to be in a romantic relationship with Jesus. That's not my thing. Maybe other people have no problem with that phrase and maybe they think I'm immature. That's possibly true but it makes it basically impossible for the song to inspire any emotions in me except "Uh, in a totally platonic and heterosexual way, Jesus, no homo, man."
Mullet Death wrote: I think that at Mass music should be based strongly on Gregorian chant and the organ and other more "traditional" instruments. There isn't any need to make everything "contemporary" and in fact something is lost when you do. Great music in general isn't set in any specific time period, and the message of Christ the King is equally timeless, so why reinvent the wheel of church music.
Mullet Death wrote: Incidentally it's not wise to either stifle emotional response or make it the focus of the adoration of God.
Mullet Death wrote: I like contemporary, mostly Protestant Christian music of all kinds, but there is something special about traditional music. Along with all the other feelings it's capable of reinforcing, it makes me feel a stronger connection with the Church of the past and the saints.
Nate wrote:Even ignoring the lyrical problems that they have of "standard love song, but about Jesus," even if that changed I just don't particularly care for the soft rock/alternative genres.
I guess one of the things that makes other songs better is that they're not restricted by having to be Christian.
Midori wrote:I think there ought to be a lot more variety and more boldness. Contemporary worship songs are almost always in the same style [. . .] Their lyrics, while there's nothing wrong with them as themselves, tend to be kind of uncreative, just going on about how God is great and we really love worshipping him, sing with me how great is our god.
mechana2015 wrote:Capital C CCM all sounds the same, boring. It's Lyrically uninspiring often as well.
Xeno wrote:As for the groups Thunderscream listed, most of those are what I'd refer to as "bands whose members are christians", rather than as christian bands.
Nate wrote:They have a song about Istanbul no longer being called Constantinople
Nate wrote:Christian music doesn't tend to have that, it's pretty much solely about God which doesn't leave room for many other themes.
Nate wrote:Feelings of depression or anger are almost never present in Christian music, or are touched upon but then go "But Jesus will make everything better so no more being depressed or angry!"
For as much as Jesus talked about helping the poor and condemning the rich, when was the last time you heard a Christian song talk about social justice?
When was the last time you heard a Christian song sing about the evils of war or racism?
We've got Song of Songs/Solomon in the bible, right? It's just love poetry. Why can't a Christian band sing a love song that doesn't talk about God, just talks about the purity and beauty of love? That's Christian, Christians love, Christians have romantic relationships.
Kaori wrote:Xeno, Is it just a semantic thing, and are you just saying that bands whose music isn't 100% about God should be called "bands who are Christians" instead of "Christian bands," but that they should still be accepted (e.g. allowed to be sold and promoted in the Christian music industry), or are you saying that bands ought to make music that is purely safe, positive stuff that is only always specifically about God in order to be considered Christian and promoted as such? If it's the latter, it’s pretty ironic that in a thread where everyone is pointing out that it’s a really big problem when Christian bands are required to have every song be some sort of positive, inoffensive song that is totally about God and Jesus, because it results in music that is boring, cheesy, and uninspired, you are saying that bands that don’t talk about God and Jesus all the time shouldn’t be called Christian bands.
Kaori wrote: And Kraavdran, in the interest of keeping my thoughts the two subtopics of this thread at least somewhat separated (and also to give me some time to think about them), I’ll respond to your most recent thoughts (and a few other people’s comments about worship music) in a later post.
Kaori wrote: So, basically, there are TONS of bands and artists who are making music that is much more interesting, complex, and varied than that, but you generally have to look outside of K-LOVE in order to find it.
Kaori wrote: I would actually be very hard-pressed to find a single Christian CD in my collection that is only about God all the time and is only positive all the time. There are some that are very faith-oriented in content but write about darkness and doubt and struggles with faith, but I think the only albums I own that don’t address some sort of darker and/or not-specifically-Christian theme are albums that are actual worship albums.
Xeno wrote: The need to put the label "Christian" on something tends to restrict it just because of the word. People expect certain things from "Christian music" or "Christian books" when a vast number of artists, in any medium, are likely Christian and just don't use that label to prevent the box Kaori mentioned.
Kaori wrote:Nate, I don’t know what kind of music you do enjoy listening to
Kaori wrote:At any rate, there is certainly a distinction that can be made between the CCM (as in the bland stuff that is exclusively about God and sticks to safe topics) and Christian bands generally (which are in a variety of genres and write about a variety of topics), but leaving that aside and talking about Christian music generally I am going to say that I agree with everyone who is saying that we need to not place restraints on bands by telling them that they can only ever sing about God and that their songs can only be positive and upbeat and not address the darker side of life like pain, hardship, and struggles. If you place that kind of restriction on musicians, then of course they are going to produce shoddy, bland, insipid music.
In regard to CCM proper, I’m going to use the radio station K-LOVE as an example, and before I start I just want to say as a disclaimer that I’m sure the people who are running that station have good motives and want to help people, and there are also a lot of people who get good things out of listening to that station and have been helped by it a lot. And I don’t want to criticize the motives of the people running the station or to denigrate the experiences of anyone who likes that kind of music or who listens to that station or who has gotten something good out of it.
However, the songs that are played on K-LOVE are the musical equivalent of the framed artwork that you see in hotels and hospitals and other public places. They are bland, they are musically and lyrically simple, and they seem to be chosen with the goal of selecting songs that are 1) identifiably Christian in their content and 2) inoffensive to everyone. So if this is the only kind of Christian music you are listening to, then saying “Christian music is all bland and insipid, and Christian songs are required to talk about God all the time and can’t be about any other subjects, and artists aren’t allowed any musical or lyrical creativity,” then that’s like walking into a hotel and saying all artwork is bland and insipid! Hotel artwork is bland and insipid specifically because it’s meant to be pleasant and inoffensive to everyone.
So, basically, there are TONS of bands and artists who are making music that is much more interesting, complex, and varied than that, but you generally have to look outside of K-LOVE in order to find it.
Kaori wrote:Also, Five Iron Frenzy, especially in their early albums, satirizes everyone and everything. They have a lot of criticism against American materialism and individualism and selfishness, they criticize the evils that were committed against Native Americans in US history, they make fun of punk fans, the music industry, and themselves. And they also have some songs that are just about human relationships, like “Ugly Day.” And they also have a lot of songs about faith and some worship songs.
Kaori wrote:1. If you define CCM as “music that is specifically about God or Jesus and has a positive message” and select only songs that fit into that category, then you’ve created an artistically restricted category, and the stuff that fits into that category is going to tend to be bland, uncreative, lacking in variety, and fitting into a nice, neat little box. The reason for that is specifically because you created a nice, neat little box and then only picked songs that go into that box to label as “CCM.” Like hotel artwork. This is not good and we shouldn’t do it.
Zeke365 wrote: 1.Worship music in the church I agree with them being this sort of low tone and same tone (and I been to a lot of church and they almost all sound alike) but as a personal preference, I would like churches instead of copying another style of music to make their own songs praise upbeat music and worship song that is original to that church and is completely out of the norm.
Zeke365 wrote:either way but I m thinking more of the upbeat dance-ability way but I like the other idea to.
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