Friday, August 29, 2008

Could we please grow up?

OK, so I'm out earlier today and I stop at the Family Christian Store to pick up a couple of new CD's and take advantage of a coupon I have for 25% off. I'd say that's a good deal.
As I'm looking for a couple of CD's that I've been wanting since mine and Bob's Day Trip to Purple Door, I could only find one of the three. So I modified my search and expanded it.
You see, the Family Christian Store has a very small space provided for the kind of hardcore music that I listen to (but has plenty available from their website). It's on a display shelf that's labeled "Rock", but their limited number of selections only take up the top two shelves of the display. I will, however, occasionally find things that will eventually end up on that shelf on the "New Releases" shelves from time to time. So that's where I shifted my gaze to. And low, and behold, I found one of the others. But even then, I didn't recognize it at first because I've seen it at Hot Topic and Best Buy (but I didn't have the 25% off coupon for those stores) and this wasn't the same cover as the ones I saw elsewhere.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, the first CD I found was August Burns Red, Messengers. I liked their live show at Purple Door, and was familiar with one or two of their songs, so I figured they were worth buying. And I'm pretty happy with the CD. The other CD that I found, almost purely by accident, was The Showdown, Back Breaker. Another band that had a great live show at Purple Door, and I enjoyed the music immensely. But the CD had a different cover than it had when I saw it at Hot Topic.
OK, I really need you to go to The Showdown's myspace page and look at the cover art. If you don't like the music just turn your volume down and scroll down till you see the cover.
Are you done? Good.
It seems that at the Family Christian Store, that cover is unacceptable. It's covered over by a black label that simply has the bands logo on it. So you really can't see the artwork (of what is supposed to be Achilles) on the front of the case. Now, I want you to ask yourself, "What's so offensive about that?"
OK, perhaps trying to explain why there's artwork of Achilles on the cover of a Christian band's CD would be uncomfortable. But, still, why should that be a problem? C.S. Lewis constantly used comparitive religious ideas to bring out the universal recognition of the truth of God and Christianity. But I'll come back to that later.
I'm curious about this, if the cover is so offensive, then why sell the CD? Is somebody at Family Christian Stores compromising, or is this a contract thing with the distributor or label? I have to admit that I never really know which questions to ask in these situations because so much of the "Christian Music Industry" is really more about the "Industry" than the "Christian" - and sometimes even the "Music". I don't like that being a "Christian Band" now means you have an immediate niche market and all you have to do is sound a little bit like some band with mainstream popularity. And this is a conversation that I've had with JT many times, especially since he's been doing his podcast and finding the search for good Christian bands to be a bit overwhelming at times. But I still see it this way, if you're a Christian, and you have a talent you are supposed to be using that talent for the sake of God's Kingdom. If you are not using it in such a way, then you are prostituting your gift from God, and not giving it freely as He has given His grace to you.
I'm troubled by the fact that so many of the bands (but not all) that I've been listening to lately really make little, if any, mention of their faith in Christ unless it's at the festivals. I do realize that it's not always their own choice. I got to hang out with some of them this summer at Creation and Purple Door, so I know where their hearts are. And, as the consumate capitalist that I am, I understand it's about good business. The labels still want their CD's being distributed to stores like Hot Topic and Best Buy, they still want them to be among the mainstream arrtists. So they must tone down the Christian aspect to keep them in the overall market and not have them resigned to the "religious" section with all of the old gospel singers and choirs. But still, a little bit more spiritual integrity would be nice.
But now I want to come back to the cover art. Why does somebody feel some need to cover this artwork? Why does somebody feel as if censorship is a good thing? And why are so many Christians so weak in their walk to find this to be offensive?
I want to share some scripture verses with everyone to stress my point.
Isaiah 13:3 "I, the Lord, have dedicated these soldiers for this task. Yes, I have called mighty warriors to express my anger, and they will rejoice when I am exalted." (emphasis mine)
Romans 8:37 "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." (emphasis mine)
Ephesians 6:10 "A final word; Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power."

I'm tired of Christians who are so easily offended by whatever it is that they have deemed to be "sinful", or "offensive". We live in a sinful world, DEAL WITH IT !!! I'm not telling anyone they have to accept sin as good, or right, but if you make a big deal out of it, you'll just draw more attention to that which you're resisting. When I look at the above verses, I don't get the feeling we're suposed to take such offense over things. I see the words "soldiers" and "warriors", and ask if they indicate some sort of squeamishness in the face of the ugliness of evil that exists in this world? I don't think so. In fact, I know better.
Think about what a soldier must face in war. He will see the hatred of his enemies. He will see his friends die in gruesome ways. He will experience senses of rage and terror that you and I can't imagine. And he will do these things of his own freewill, because that's what a soldier does.
Are we being soldiers for our faith when we are so easliy offended by something? How can we reach out to those who are so far away from God if we're afraid to walk into their world and find them? How do we ever expect to reach out to the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the bikers, the freaks and outcasts of this world when we're so offened by what they see as normal, real life?
The more we cringe from such things, the weaker we become. We will never be effective among the truly lost as long as we're afraid of the ugliness of their sin. But we are not called to be weak or timid (1 Timothy 1:7), and if you think trying to hide something from view is the right thing to do, or that it will make the ugliness go away, then you're not trusting God to keep His word. And you're not living in the real world.
It's time for the church to walk in the power of the living God and not act as if the world has some great power over us. What do we have to be afraid of, or offended by? He has made us the conquerors, He has made us kings and priests of His kingdom. So why do so many of us act like pawns?

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3 Comments:

Blogger Jeff A said...

Dude, I am so with you on this. Matthew 9:12, On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."
I get a hard time sometimes from others in my church because I go to concerts of secular bands. I love Christian music and quite a few of the bands, but most of the people there really don't need to hear the Gospel from me, whereas most of the people at the other concerts I attend are in definite need of the good news!

Anyway, I'm just sayin' is all!

11:44 PM  
Blogger M+ said...

Jeff;
I hear ya, man! Tradition and man-made rules are the things Christ taught against - more than anything. That's why His own people crucified him. So why is it that we must return to the bondage of new traditions and a new set of man-made rules? Haven't any of these people read the book of Romans, especially the 8th chapter?
Be a light wherever you go. And be sure to go to those places where light is needed. We were never meant to hide our light under a bushel, but that's what we do by saying we aren't supposed to go certain places because we might be "tempted" or associating with "mockers". And to anyone who recommends we don't spend time with sinners I ask WWJD?

6:45 AM  
Anonymous abdulraheem said...

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5:45 AM  

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