Part of my recent exposure to Christian culture has lead to an increased exposure to Christian media. The first day I went to Hillside Church, I turned the radio to a Christian station on the drive home. And I was kind of surprised to find that, by and large, I like quite a bit of it. I’ve come across a few songs that I really dig (“Freedom is Here” by Esterlyn, comes to mind) and I’ve also found that some worship songs I enjoy have been done by multiple people. For instance, “Revelation Song” is a pretty awesome song, and I’ve heard it by Jesus Culture, Phillips Craig and Dean, and a few others – and it’s always good. I’ve discovered that some of the songs done by my church’s worship band have been done by dozens of Christian artists, and since I’m a bit of a music geek, I like listening to many different versions and hearing different arrangements.
On this note – props to Aaron Boothe’s most recent arrangement of “Grace Like Rain,” with the super-sick five-part harmony on the third verse. Not bad for his first day back at church since suffering from an ice- slash dog-related injury.
I’m even reading a Frank Peretti book because, well, I might as well try it out. It’s “The Oath.” Not bad, but I’m used to my horror stories having more cuss words and nudity. That’s the Stephen King influence on me – and I started reading King when I was far too young to start reading King, so. . . you know. . . that influence runs deep.
I’m not partaking in Christian media because I feel obligated, but because I want to. Sometimes, damn it, I just want to hear about Jesus. Or maybe I want to feel uplifted. Or maybe I feel distant from God for the moment, and I want to be reminded that he’s awesome.
And yet. . . and yet. . . sometimes Christian artists get weird. I was YouTube’ing a Christian band I like, and they were doing a cover of a song that I have a soft spot for. So I was sitting at work, my Droid in my pocket and my earbuds in position, listening to a song, and it was well done. I was enjoying the music. Then, as the music kept going, the singer just sort of started. . . ranting? Preaching? I dunno. She stopped singing, and started talking about experiencing the love of God, and encouraging the people in the audience to come to God if they hadn’t already, and how nothing they were singing had any value without the love of God, and so on. She looked really into what she was saying – ecstatic, even. The audience loved it. I admired the singer for having the courage to be so genuine and raw while preaching, but at the same time, it seemed a little weird to me.
I appreciate what she was doing – she’s a worship pastor, she needs to encourage people to come to Jesus – but it’s not always what I’m looking to experience, when I’m enjoying an ice-cold can of pop culture. Maybe it’s because I’m so new to Christian media? Barring a few embarrassing examples (like “Rage Against the Machine”), most secular artists don’t get so passionately into an agenda or message when they’re performing – they’re just doing what they do, hoping you have a good time, and having fun.
That’s what I’m used to. So I’ve learned to have a new appreciation for songs, movies, books, whatever, that are nearly Christian, but not quite. Brandi and I make a game of it, sometimes – we’ll bring up a movie like Ink (a movie we are mostly sure is an allegory for spiritual war) and talk about how it makes us think about Jesus, the Bible, God, etc. In that way we can get ourselves re-focused on God, enjoy a good movie, and not get a little weirded-out by people doing what they do.
One time, I thought I was so clever. I had just come to God maybe two weeks before, and I was listening to my Pandora station. Suddenly, “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons came on. I listened to the song with a growing suspicion that it was an allegorical tale of someone coming to Jesus – going through the same thing I was going through. I looked up the lyrics on Google, and sure enough, the lyrics seemed to support it.
Oh man, I thought. I can’t wait to drop this mind-blowing info bomb on my friends at church!
Some of you know where this is going.
Time went on, and I forgot to tell people about my amazing revelation, vis-à-vis Mumford & Sons. Then, when I went to the many-times-aforementioned Blue Ocean Midwest conference in Minneapolis, I had my chance. I had just attended a dinner at a local pub with several awesome people – my own pastor Ryan Bauers, my newfound friend-in-snark Pete Benedict, and Blue Ocean mastermind Dave Schmelzer. At said dinner, we’d had a lively discussion about the role of Jesus in the mainstream media, and where we might see that going some day. On the way back from the pub, we were all piled into Ryan’s minivan as we headed back toward the church where the conference was being held. We chit-chatted a bit, and it suddenly occurred to me –
Now’s the time to drop the info-bomb!
I was right there with my pastor and several people I liked and respected, it was vaguely topical, and there was surely no better way to impress my friends than to blow their minds with my “Mumford & Sons are stealthy Christians” theory.
So I told them.
Quickly, for those of you reading at home, could you raise your hands if you know who Marcus Mumford’s parents are?
Marcus Mumford, of Mumford & Sons, is the son of John & Eleanor Mumford – the heads of the Vineyard Church network in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Everyone in the minivan with me was a Vineyard pastor.
Needless to say, my mind-blowing info bomb didn’t have the desired effect. Still, I’ve found other songs that I think might be secretly spiritual, and some day I’m going to post a list of them! I’ve got one in particular that is going to break your brains!
What about you guys – do you have any movies/songs/books/whatever that are ostensibly secular, but you are convinced are actually telling a very spiritual, possibly even Christian, story? Recommend your favorites to me, and there’s a good chance I’ll read them and. . .give you credit, or something.
Anyway. Check out Ink! It’s awesome.