"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


let me fall on the grace that first brought me to you

I hate contemporary Christian music.

Part of this is a side effect of growing up in Franklin, where you learn quickly that the Christian music industry is a business first. It's also concerned with image, marketing, and product rollouts. Musicality comes somewhere down the list, and, for the most part, truly living life as a Christian comes much farther down the list.

It's not some sinister plot or anything like that. Most people enter "the industry" with the best of intentions, and most of them leave disillusioned after waiting tables at a chain restaurant near the Galleria and playing coffehouse open mike nights for a year or two. A few get chosen and swept up in the world of perfect hair, perfect families, and mediocre music.

People from my youth group back in the day are now Christian music superstars. Others tried and didn't make it. Others were and aren't anymore. What we learned through all this is that your average CCM types aren't bad people, but they're also not generally all they seem to be. One of my closest friends from high school stood backstage at the Dove Awards one year and watched the members of a CCM supergroup pitch a fit about their toenail polish. When they were all wearing closed-toed shoes. It happens.

Hypocrisy has a lot to do with it, but the other reason I don't like most Christian music is the fact that I really like music. And the quality of songwriting and production in most of the CCM world, is, quite frankly, incredibly uncreative and uninteresting. It's bo-oring. Often, it's bad. Really bad.

What this adds up to is, basically, that I only listen to a little Derek Webb my sister told me about and some Andrew Osegna that Professor Deutsch passed along and ... that's about it. (I know. I'm the worst poster-child for Baptists ever.)

But today this beautiful post reminded me of one of the few people who got to Franklin, but who weren't caught up in a wave of hypocrisy and mediocrity. It's been ten years since Rich Mullins died in a wreck. Rich Mullins who went barefoot, who never fit in with the big hair and polished stage presences and picture-perfect families with adorable, photogenic children. Rich Mullins who wrote some cheesy songs you sing at youth camp, but who also wrote "If I Stand."

His life speaks for itself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, most of the centrist to progressive Baptists I know can't stand contemporary Christian music. Some of us prefer hymns. Almost all of us hate singing to overhead projectors. The theology of most CCM drives us nuts.

Funny, when I was a teen in the '70s, it was the CONSERVATIVE Baptists who hated CCM--thinking it too much like rock music. (That was when they were trying unsuccessfully to get me to burn my Eagles and Frampton records, etc.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 3:50:00 PM

Blogger euphrony said...

Might I suggest some good "CCM"? Check out Sara Groves music - she is honestly one of the best singer/songwriters out there, regardless of genre. You'll find some worshipful music mixed in, but that's more an overflow instead of the whole. In fact, listening to her and some others allows me to appreciate some (some) (i said some) contemporary praise and worship music because I can then find worship as the overflow of my life and not a contrived act. I agree with Michael that the poor theology of a lot of it drives me crazy. A lot of the CCM out there seems to be repetition of what the artist had already done or stylistic knock-offs of better musicians.

Some other suggestions for good CCM: Jars of Clay are good, check out Good Monsters. Shaun Groves - no relation to Sara - is also good, and he hates the poor theology that comes through in a lot of CCM, as well. A couple of newer artists - Jake Smith and Mat Kearney - are worth a listen. Downhere is pretty good, and they don't take themselves too seriously. Plumb is good - her style was what Amy Lee of Evanescence credited as the inspiration for her own, to give you and idea. Steven Delopoulos is another.

And of course Chris Tomlin - kidding!

Not trying to push the genre on you, but give you some artists I find to be good. I listen to a fair amount of CCM (and I skip a fair amount, too), but I listen to many other styles of music as well; I understand the desire to find good music, not just music that seems to fit who you should be.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 8:20:00 AM

Blogger Amy said...

oh come on!! No Andrew Peterson? If nothing else, I think he's the best lyricist around!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 1:03:00 PM

Blogger euphrony said...

Sorry, Amy. I like Andrew Peterson as well. I was just shooting a couple of names off the top of my head.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 1:45:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Thanks for the suggestions, y'all. Euphrony, I had a tragic experience with Jars of Clay as a teenager (it's a long story), but maybe I'll give some of those others a try one of these days.

Michael, aack! You've just reminded me of all those "if you like XXX, you should try XXX" lists they handed out to my youth group. I think the most entertaining was "if you like Run-DMC, you should try DC Talk." This is classic, first-album DC Talk we're talking about. Ugh.

Thursday, September 20, 2007 11:00:00 PM

Blogger euphrony said...

As a connection with your personal interests in Africa, you might want to check out Sara Groves new album when it comes out in November. I got a pre-release this week, and it is heavily influenced by her recent trip to Rwanda and her interaction with International Justice Mission. You can view a video of one of the songs on YouTube, and I'll have a review with song clips next week on my blog.

Friday, September 21, 2007 9:21:00 AM

Blogger Emily said...

"This is classic, first-album DC Talk we're talking about. Ugh."


I was forced to endure a lot of DC Talk at band camp one year, all the while subversively listening to Alice in Chains and Primus on my Walkman.

Life in Franklin - sigh. I could write a whole post on the "I go to the cool church where (insert CCM artist name) goes" philosophy down there.

Saturday, September 22, 2007 9:05:00 AM


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