Friday, November 10, 2006

Cultural Death

Tonight was Higher Grounds (that's #4, I believe) at Crosspoint Church. It's nights like this that put my faith back in people of faith that we haven't completely lost all culture. Another night of live music - local talent, Crosspoint talent, even Famous People. Brad Crisler started by singing a song with his wife, Dawn, and followed it up with Hillbilly Deluxe - the new song he wrote on the Brooks & Dunn album of the same name, and everyone's favorite, Sweet Southern Comfort.

But headlining tonight was Amy Stroup. She's simply amazing. Unfortunately, I haven't listened to any of the CDs that Krista has - I guess I'll have to put them on my mp3 player and listen to them in the car. Amy is coming out with a new album in a couple of weeks - Chasing Greenlights; she sang the title song from it and I was blown away. She's very talented. This is also the only decent picture I was able to get tonight.

You can check out her current albums on iTunes (as this cool mint advertises); her new album will be released there, too. Check her out.

But back to what I started on about losing culture. It seems that lately, we don't seem to have our own culture. Everything I see has been commandeered from the "world outside". It's almost like we don't have any creativity. Of course, if we were created in the Creator's image that makes no sense.

I look around everywhere and I see people wresting bits and pieces of the surrounding world in an attempt to be cool or relevant. Here are a couple pictures I took on the way home the last few weeks. The one on the right should be legible: Body Piercing Saved My Life. The other one attests to my photography skills. It's a bumper sticker that says CSI: Christ Saves Individuals.

At least Christian music is finally coming into its own, slowly but surely. But, have we spent so long "trying to be different" that we've included in it our ability to create? I know some amazingly creative people, but much of their creativity is all but forced out of their spiritual lives. Is it the concern that if we combine creativity and spirituality that, all of a sudden, we're trying to entertain instead of follow God? I guess only the 3-point sermon is God's way to get a message across on Sunday morning.

We took Julianna to Mars Hill Bible School's Pumpkin Day the Saturday before Halloween. (People aren't allowed to call it Halloween anymore - I think because it's a Catholic holiday.) I found a card game that was so silly I had to buy it. It's called Betrayal, and it's based on Old Maid. Except in this version the cards are the apostles of Jesus, and it's not the Old Maid you don't want to get stuck with, it's Judas, who betrayed Jesus. The funny thing was, it cost me $5 (on special from the regular $5.99), and 45 minutes later, I found the same cards in the school's bookstore, buried in the back clearance room, going for $4.12.

Another fascinating item I found in the bookstore was the Evangecube. You don't have to actually say anything when you can use this nifty puzzle to Bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Life.

But my favorite were the Holy Folks dolls. They're "Always Faithful! Always Smiling!". Because, as you know, if you're not always happy, you're not really following God.

Just looking at my bookshelves, I even have a copy of C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. But this is the comic book version put out by Marvel Comics and Nelson Publishers. I was just thinking the other day - what's happened to all the amazing writers? Who has made a worldwide impact since C.S. Lewis? Not to say there aren't creative people of faith today, but it just seems to me that people who follow Jesus just aren't the creative force they that have been in the past.

But I think, and I hope, and I pray, that's changing.


  1. Oh, Jim. . I don't know what to say about all of this--you make some very poingniant observations--the lack of originality is one of the things tha I have so greatly disdained in Christian music (even when i was listening to it). . .I still have, in my CD collection, a number of Christian Rock bands from the 80's and 90's--many of them very good, but so many of them are, as you point out, just cheap imitations of secular artists--I have the Christian "Cult", the Christian "Tesla", The Christian "Pearl Jam" to name a few. . once upon a time, I also had the Christian Paula Cole, and the Christian Sara Mclaghlan. It is as if there WAS NO originality. i remember when Jars of Clay came out--they were such a breath of fresh air, in that they were truly original (in fact, they are the only christian music on my ipod at this time)

    I think one of the problems in the lack of culture that you spaek of, is that fundamental protestantism is more focused on being "right" rather than being "quality". In otherwords, one should be expected to pay $15 for a bad CD by a bad Christian Artist simply because their THEOLOGY is right--nevermind about their talent. With more progressive, emergent churches, you see the same dynamic, but the tradeoff is for "sincerity" rather than correct theology--a Christian artist in this environment can get by on being sincere and earnest. . .truly devoted, and the wuality of their music (or art) becoems secondary.

    I found, when I left the c of C and started to visit other groups--community churches mostly, that I was EXTREMELY dissatisfied with the worship services. . .especially the music programs--

    Think of it, here is me, the outcast c of C Rosk musician, FINALLY free to explore music in an environment that encouraged the use of instrumental music, but I really found that the music programs, while "earnest" and "devout", just seemed to lack a certain level of quality that I had become accustomed to--let's face it, a good c of C can SING--and the songs are always ABOUT something--there is lyrical content, not just the over and over, "praise and worship" songs that do little more than express a single idea--I wanted soemthing a little more--I just felt that the music programs that I attended (in SEVERAL of these churches) were really "dumbed down"

    One could say, that as a musician and an artist, maybe my standards were just too high, but then again, i look back to my c of C days, where there was some TRULY talented 4 part harmony going on. . .something of quality.

    An online friend of mine, a convert to Catholicism from the c of C, posted a similar idea Here

    I, for one, could never figure out why so many Christians would insist on their best clothing for sunday morning (to honor God), but settle for substandard culture. that is another discussion altogether.

  2. That was a fascinating blog post - thanks for pointing me to it, Thomas.

    I could have gone on and on about this here, but I was trying to be succint.

    And don't get me started about the dressing up for church thing. That's another (even longer) post.

  3. BTW--Listeing to Amy Stroup right now--very nice. . .very talented young lady. . .

    The Christian Avril Lavigne