A Thought On The Music Of Christianity

I was very grateful for a song this morning, that moved me, and helped me to move forward with God.

I have some more subjective, multi-themed, inaccessible “artful” music I listen to all the time. Some of it is by Christians. Some of it is not.

I need regular doses, however, of music written by believing folks to center me more often than not. (Unless it’s Imogen Heap. Pretty much feel centered by most anything she writes for some strange reason).

I’m grateful for Jon Foreman for me right now, a variety of worship music for my wife, TobyMac for my son, and still other bands for my girls. We get our values fed in the place of music, and our minds and hearts receive some helpful direction (discernment, whether the music is created by professing Christians or not, is always necessary).

I believe that the strength of the contemporary Christian music industry is its ongoing investment in the embodying of biblical stories, ideas, themes and passages in music. The opening of the soul, and the feeding of it across a lifetime, is an important role to find oneself in – it should be stewarded well no matter the revenue.

Most who know me, having banters on the latest art and music, are a bit shocked when they dis Christian music and I react with such heated response. It’s not about me being churchy – it’s about a generation deciding that art anchors them, no matter who is writing or what they are writing about. I say, enjoy the art and mine the soul, but recognize that your thinking and view of God (and everything) is being shaped.

I am especially grateful for Christian music as my own children daily imbibe the values-soup in which they swim on a daily basis. Worship music can tether the heart to central truths that stabilize, and even invigorate us, by anchoring us to unchanging themes. For my skeptic friends, yes, it can often stabilize people in such a way that they become unstabilized in other ways.

And yet, I choose to mix my music cocktails, to keep my soul expanding artfully, and in faith.

The contemporary Christian music industry’s weaknesses lie in its view of acceptable sacred art, its worldview (sacred/secular split), its vision of the holistic Christian conversion, life values and the eschaton, its handling (possibly – I can’t judge this) of significant cashflow, and its diffused sense of mission. The weaknesses should be addressed, and I am considering an open letter to the Christian music industry and radio community to do my part in the support of something I believe should be – as opposed to should not be.

In a moment of gratefulness for the Psalms this morning, I simply say that while great art is everywhere in the world, I’m grateful for attention to investing a story in which I choose to live in myriad forms. Sure, there will be much repetition the simpler and more widely accessible it quests to be (a value I appreciate, but left to itself is choking out the artful possibilities flowing from many believing writers who must write less accessible work).

I’m going to put some Psalms to music in the next bit, I believe. I’ll get in line, and do it because I need to.

Then, I’ll write some whacky poem about the eyelid of a tree frog or the flash of my wife’s eyes to keep myself, and my friends, playful.


Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.