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Christian Music?

7/22/2002 - 5:05 PM PST

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Why I Don't Like "Christian" Music

© Third Millennium, LLC

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Founder/President

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Is there truly such a thing as "Christian" Music? Or is all music a gift-if it lifts the human soul?

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Catholic Way - I love Music—always have and always will.

At the age of five I fancied myself an Elvis impersonator—crooning the king’s music to anyone who would listen at Rocco’s Cafe in Dorchester, Massachusetts while my aunt laughed and danced. I even painted my little white bucks blue so that I could sing “Blue Suede Shoes” with authenticity.

I was a lead singer in a high school rock band having taught myself how to play the guitar at the age of thirteen. By fifteen I had written for, performed in and promoted bands. I knew the extraordinary capacity music had to bare the human soul.

By the age of seventeen I had written my own music that I would later record. I lived through my turbulent teenage years searching days from lyric to lyric with rock and contemporary music.

To this day I still experience the emotional moods of seasons of my life every time I hear some of the old “counter culture” music of the late sixties and early seventies.

I love all kinds of music—from sultry women rhythm and blues singers—to jazz, contemporary—to the best of the Western tradition's classical treasury. Finally, although I am Boston bred, I have become a Virginian by choice and with it I have expanded my musical taste. My oldest daughter provided my entry into the world of country music. I have moved from hiding my country leanings to actually walking into a store and unapologetically purchasing the latest offerings without apology.

However there is one kind of music I don’t like. I don’t like much of what is often called “Christian" music.

I know this will scandalize some who read these words. But at least hear me out. First, I am a Christian. My relationship with the Lord and my life as a part of His Church is the most important aspect of my identity, my family and my reason for living. I am also a member of the Catholic clergy and serve at the altar. I absolutely love good worship and liturgical music.

My dislike for much of what is called “Christian" music is simple to understand, I question the term itself. I actually do not like the expression. It is often a part of a kind of worldview that separates faith from real life.

This kind of an approach sometimes seems to present music that does not have religious words attached as “secular.” Interestingly, an entire genre of such music has evolved. It use to be almost exclusively part of evangelical culture but now it is spreading into some contemporary Catholic circles.

All music is a gift from God if it edifies the human person. It is meant to be enjoyed as a part of the fabric of the human experience.

Putting “God words” on a melody does not make it Christian. In fact, sometimes it has the opposite effect leading the listener to believe that Christianity is simply some kind of “holier than thou” club for those who live in a parallel universe—rather than a way for all men and women to reach their highest destiny.

Through the Incarnation of the Son of God the entire human experience was transformed. Christians tend to forget the extraordinary depth of that ancient and fundamental truth of our faith.

Christianity is a relationship—with God through his Son in his Spirit—and through Him with one another as a part of His body. We literally live in the Church now—in Christ. In Him we are sent into this world to carry on His redemptive work.

No inanimate object or creation of the human person is “Christian”. Only persons are capable of having a “relationship” with the Lord.

Of course things like music can be especially set aside for Him. Creation itself is in a relationship with the Creator. However, it is only human persons who freely embrace an intimate relationship with the Trinity, through Jesus Christ. That is the root meaning of “holy” in the original language—to be set aside for God.

That setting aside of music for Him is why liturgical music was so vitally important (and still should be) throughout the history of the Christian church. However, some of that Church has forgotten what liturgy is or has trivialized its uniqueness.

I also find increasingly distasteful the “ditties” that have emerged in some of our worship and that substitute themselves for the grandeur and majesty befitting solemn worship of the all Holy God. Are they truly fitting sacrifice to the God who made the universe in all of its glory?

The Biblical passages (Old and New Testament) pertaining to music spoke ...

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