Before I even thought of looking at Orthodoxy, I had issues with Contemporary Christian and Gospel Music. To be fair, in a world of Justin Biebers, Li’l Waynes, and other horrible examples in secular music, just about anything with religious lyrics sounds like a good option. But, I think we ought to be very cautious about blindly surrendering to the industry that proclaims the faith for the sake of profit.
Does profanity make a comedian funny? Not really. Too many of them bombard the audience with such language for shock value. But when one carefully listens to their material, it is very weak. The same holds true for many Christian and Gospel artist. Sure, they may say the name “Jesus” four hundred times and repeat favorite verses of scripture. But, investigating the lyrics and backgrounds of the songs and the theology behind them has no sense of depth and sometimes can be very heretical. For a time, there were songs based around the prayer of Jabez. This one obscure prayer had nothing to do with self denial, bearing burdens, aiding the afflicted, or any other principle Jesus taught. The prayer was only about a suffering man who wanted God to give him the blessings of the earth. Too often, Christianity is being used as a supernatural good luck charm rather than a means of altering one’s sinful state to live as the spiritual person God made him to be. This and other songs like it contribute to the delinquency of faith even if the prayer is in the Bible. Satan himself tried to use scripture to tempt Jesus. Our Lord rejected the abuse of scripture. We should also beware of falling for such traps.
Well crafted furniture is made by people who truly care to make the very best product every time at a profit as much as possible and at a loss if they must. That is artisan-ship. Today, the making of furniture is dominated by industry which is solely profit driven and will use the cheapest means to make the most profit. Thus, often tables and chairs are made of sawdust and glue rather than solid wood. I fear that too often, the Contemporary Christian and Gospel music industry is much like the secular music industries of all genres. Today’s music, secular and sacred, is often prefabricated to a sound that is commonly heard and is marketed solely for profit without a care nor concern for artistic creativity. This is the reason why I rarely listen to secular radio. If Christian radio is doing the same thing, “in the name of Jesus,” why should I embrace it? That is like voting based on race or political party rather than the character of the individual and what that person stands for and has accomplished. If I don’t do that with my politics and friendships, I refuse to do that with the music I listen to. It is especially dangerous to do this with religion as it becomes corrupted with the standards of earthly gain rather than the pursuit of holy living.
There was a time when Mahalia Jackson and Bill Gathier used to sing simply for the glory of God and could care less how many people came out to hear them. Now there is competition for Grammy Awards and other Christian and Gospel music trophies? Artist won’t perform unless they receive very high fees up front? I don’t have an issue with compensating a professional musician of any genre. But, too many are in the industry more for the love of money and less for the love of God. Jesus taught us that you can’t have it both ways. As well, the Christian and Gospel artist have a bad habit of bandwagon jumping on any musical trend that happens to be making a profit in the secular world and jumping off of it when the trend has run it’s course. While there is nothing wrong with Christians embracing the best that a culture has to offer, to just pick up on any and everything to make a profit in Jesus name reduces God the creator to god the xerox machine.
Independent artist of all stripes should strive for creativity and artistic honesty. To the kid with the guitar, Bible, and note pad who writes after his prayer time, to the choir that preserves songs of faith born out of sorrow with no thought of making it big but to express their faith to those who will listen, I will applaud. But, the secular recording industry has done much to cheapen music as an art form. For Christians to simply follow suit with crosses and scripture does not impress me.