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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I Figured It Out

I figured out why Christian Contemporary Music sounds cheesy, as it were. Actually, that Gungor dude nailed it, but I'm not chasing that link down. It's very simple: Loving God is too big for this. The music can't handle it. I just sensed it while I listened to, aptly enough, "Love Song For A Savior" by Jars Of Clay. It's a great song for what it is. It's almost great pop music. Here's reality, though: Jesus will never be popular. He will never be cool. He's Lord and God; he doesn't need you or me. The fact that he chooses us, to need us, as it were, tells us only about our need. I digress.

This is why I'm not a musical relativist. If I want to love God with all my heart in song, I need sacred music. It doesn't mean that it has to be from one culture or time; don't get in a huff. It does mean there actually is a sacred/secular distinction, and that's OK. If I may, I'm tired of hearing there isn't one. That was among the worst things they tried to teach me at seminary among the separated brethren. You're trying to say that you want Truth to touch every part of your life; to state it more like we have heard it, there is no square-inch of this universe that belongs to someone other than God in Christ. Just say that.

They taught you and me to reject the sacred/secular distinction because they are afraid of clericalism, the idea that only the clergy matters, that only the liturgical affairs and evangelistic efforts of the Church as such are important. They think this is synonymous with Catholicism. I suppose it can be. But that's why they bought the Protestant story; that's why if you're reading this, you probably have.

There is no point in pretending that Lionel Richie (God love him) and Bach are the same. I'm sorry, but not. One is better, and higher. It isn't to say that you can't make something common, and give it to Jesus. What would pop music sound like, if everybody knew Christ, and wanted to get to Heaven?

Intellectually, we might even know that in a strict sense, romantic love is a poor analogy for loving God. As mysticism, eros has been a fruitful theme, but the key is, the context of the Tradition, where it has been taught and believed for century after century that celibacy is greater than marriage.

The understanding and appreciation of the apostolate of the laity has deepened with time, but again, only in the context where it is taught and believed that the priesthood is a higher calling. People think that saying that denigrates the lesser thing. Not so. The right ordering of things allows for them to flourish.

CCM never has been fully aware of the ambiguity between adoration, evangelism, and entertainment (and mass appeal). And that's why it does none of them particularly well, outside a subculture. We need also to be comfortable making people uncomfortable with our loving of God.

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