Music and Entertainment
By Gary D. Erickson
But not only do we sin against our “stars,” by putting them up too high and then shaking the pedestal with our applause until they lose their balance and fall, but we also hurt ourselves by creating fantasy Christians and then trying (unsuccessfully) to imitate their spirituality.
In 2007, Americans spent $848.86 per person on television, video rental, music, Internet, books, newspapers, magazines, box office, and other entertainment media. This does not include money for vacations, electronic equipment, boats, hunting, fishing, and various other entertainment expenditures.’ Total media consumption for the same year was 65.1 hours per person per week. This represents more hours than a full-time employee spends on his job per week. Based on these statistics, Americans are becoming ‘mediavores.’
The electronic media and the popular culture have become dependent upon each other, building one of the largest commercial enterprises in history. Christian music is an active participant in this produced-for-entertainment industry through mass-producing CDs and videos. Many people today consider entertainment to be one of the necessities of life, along with food, shelter, and clothing.
Modern society has created a vast entertainment marketplace with television, video, DVDs, iPods, CDs, amusement parks, concert halls, massive sports industry, movie industry, fancy restaurants, hunting clubs, fishing camps, electronic gadgets, computer games, ski resorts, and ocean cruises. Our contemporary culture seems confused as to the real reasons for living’whether life should be leisure or work. Increasingly, people believe entertainment-oriented leisure is the source of real happiness, and work is only a means of generating sufficient income to make leisure more attainable. Certainly leisure and entertainment are proper human experiences when taken in reasonable balance with work, but for many American families the day ends in front of the television set or video and the workweek is an endurance test until Friday, when they can embark on a fortyeight-hour excursion into the world of entertainment. In our popular culture, we have become ravenous consumers of prefabricated, electronic entertainment.
Music has not been hurt by this indulgence in the pursuit of entertainment but has profited immensely. Music for entertainment is one of the most pervasive and widely enjoyed sources of profits. Christian music, which was once confined to the churches, has not sat passively and watched this mad rush of entertainment preoccupation. Christian musicians are hustling for their piece of the pie, offering their “sanctified entertainment.”
“To entertain” means to keep the interest of by giving pleasure, amusing, or diverting. The primary objective of entertainment is to create enjoyment for the participant, with little concern for the betterment of the individual. Entertainment provides an escape from the common, ho-hum routine of everyday living.
The Christian music industry has responded to these trends aggressively by marketing various styles of Christian music, the most controversial being Christian rock.
Promoters have hawked religious rock-and-roll as the answer to the “problem” of rock music. Unfortunately, much “Christian rock” amounts only to an artistically inferior “cleaned-up” version of secular rock. Although the Christianized lyrics might be less offensive, they are still part of an anonymous economic transaction instead of a relationship between people who care about each other.
Some modem Christian musicians learn and maintain their music by listening to an abundance of secular music. It is the only way to stay abreast of the latest in music trends. Too much contemporary Christian music can indirectly come from secular musicians who feel the pangs of sins sting and are driven down a road of destruction by their fallen sensual lust. Their wails and deafening chants keep rhythm to Satan’s orchestrated destruction. The indulgence of their unrestrained passions produces music of the damned. Their boredom with the hollow thrills of lascivious living cries out for more extremes in the macabre and bizarre.
Drawing inspiration from such sources cannot be healthy for the cause of good Christian music. It is not that Christian music cannot be used for entertainment and casual listening, but patronizing the secular music industry will only deteriorate the churchs stand against evil contemporary music.
Perhaps our leisure music listening can be less rigid than our church music, since it is less focused and serves more as a background. Nevertheless, as listeners we should be alert to musical taste development (i.e., we may learn to like certain music styles by frequent listening). Listening frequently to popular secular music will bridge the chasm between the sacred and the secular, making the temptation to cross over irresistible. We should ask ourselves the following questions in the use of Christian music as entertainment.
1. “Is it appropriate to use Christian lyrics and melodies just to amuse ourselves?” Many things are permissible as long as we understand their significance. Listening to humorous, novel, or amusing Christian music is certainly harmless, unless it makes light of things sacred. Certain aspects of the gospel are too sacred to defile them with foolish and cute jingles.
2. “Is there a sanctity associated with Christian music that would permit its use only in spiritual ministry?” Ministry should be primary to any Christian musician. Nevertheless, music is only a tool and not a sacred thing in itself. Therefore, the musical tool could entertain as well as minister.
3. “Is entertainment necessary to an enjoyable life?” Simply, yes! The human mind needs a diversion from the monotonous cycle in which we sometimes find ourselves. Everything doesn’t have to be boring in order to be spiritual. Even good preaching has vestiges of entertainment.
4. “Is Christian music better than secular music for entertainment listening?” Yes! Even though the music does not have our full attention, the subconscious will retain much of the lyric content. Christian songs certainly have a more edifying message than secular ones.
Taken from: Christian Music In Transition by Gary D. Erickson