So several months ago I followed the debates in the Catholic blogosphere and elsewhere about the role of Christian musicians. Chiefly, it boiled down two viewpoints of the role of Christian musicians. On one side, the argument goes, Christian musicians should separate themselves from the secular music world by creating Christian worship music. Others seemed to feel that Christian musicians should play a role in transforming the music world through their art.
Personally, I feel that there is a strong need for both. Christians need Christian artists to write songs that speak to us and help us to deepen our faith lives. Because sometimes, when it's hard to pray, it's really comforting to turn on the radio and speak to God through the music. I would say that this area of music, the Christian genre, is not really a mission field, at least not for those outside Christian circles. It's target audience is a Christian audience seeking to deepen their faith.
Another part of the debate hedged on the idea of what constitutes and artist as a Christian artist- is it that each song they write mentions God directly? Or is it that because the artists see through the eyes of faith they sing through it, too?
I side with the latter definition. It would seem that we need Christians in all walks of life, and that that witness isn't always going to be a verbal witness. We don't always preach the Gospel with words. Though it's a quote frequently misattributed to St Francis, "Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary use words" has some merit. It should be apparent we are Christians by the way we act, by the choices we make, by how we treat those around us. We are called to be the leaven in the bread. To transform, not separate ourselves off into our own little corner of the world.
As I was driving home today, I did something I rarely do, I turned the radio to one of the more popular radio stations. I listen to the hit music when I'm in the store, I hear some of it on tv, but I made the decision several years ago to listen to almost entirely Christian music. It wasn't a decision I made because I disagreed with the secular music industry. I switched for one reason- because it wasn't uplifting, it wasn't joyful. It was sad. It had so much hurt in it. I was in a rough spot at the time (dealing with my dad's passing) and I didn't want to surround myself with any more sadness. So I gave it up. During this part of my life, I really struggled to talk to God, but gradually through listening to Christian music, I made some strides back towards happiness. So I'm really very grateful to the Christian artists and I definitely see the need for the Christian music industry.
So that brings us to the state of secular music right now. When I turned on the radio, I heard one of Lady Gaga's latest hits, Do What U Want. I almost started crying. Because that song is so depressing. There is so much hurt and pain in it. It's written in response to the press' treating of Lady Gaga, and while that may be the original intention of the song, it certainly has a double entendre. The phrase "You can do what you want with my body", indicates that it is somehow possible to separate the body from the soul. There is so much hurt in this world, and this seems to be one of our biggest coping mechanisms, that the body doesn't effect our selves, our thoughts, our voices, our hearts. This seems to be one of the biggest lies perpetuated to the young today. Because the human body is a beautiful thing. It's not something that's meant to be used and discarded. It's not something that's meant to be put on display to be rated and judged with a rubric. It's a work of art, and it's meant to be loved, protected, and taken care of. We can't separate our emotions and thoughts from our bodies. They are meant to help each other, two facets of the same person. Each with its purpose, each able to help the other to do good.
That's the Christian message. And that's what needs to be preached just as loudly as the secular gospel on the airwaves. We need more Christian musicians who are willing to revolutionize our society by participating in it. By transforming it. By shaping the way we think. So I'm grateful for those Christian musicians who have left the Christian music industry to pursue society. To seek them where they are at and to reach them through beautiful music, music that will speak to their souls and send them the message that they are valued and loved. Musicians who won't be afraid to spread love through their song. Musicians who won't settle with creating something less than beautiful because they have heeded the call to serve, to evangelize, to be missionaries of love.