Tag Archives: Style

Do Christian music and Christian fiction create a good foundation for faith?

Here’s an interesting account by a young woman who became secular by becoming very involved in Christian music and then jumped to secular music because it was better music.

Excerpt:

“Who’s in the House” is a hip-hop track about the presence of the Lord. Through megaphone distortion, Carman rapped a few lines: “You take him high / you take him low / you take JC wherever you go,” then led into a call and response hook reminiscent of ’80s-era De La Soul. “Tell me who’s in the house? JC!”

If you’re wondering what teenager in her right mind would listen to a forty-year-old Vegas showman with a Jersey accent rap about Jesus, the answer is: me. In junior high, I saw Carman in concert three times. The Standard was the first CD I ever bought. I rocked out to Carman on my Walkman on the way to youth group and dished with my girlfriends about what a hottie he was. At the concerts, I bought his T-shirts and posters, and when he called out “Who’s in the House?” I made my arms into letters, YMCA-style, with the rest of the crowd and shouted “JC!”

I was homeschooled up until tenth grade, and my social life revolved around church. I grew up submersed in evangelical youth culture: reading Brio magazine, doing devotions in my Youth Walk Bible, eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Left Behind series, and developing a taste in music that ran the gamut from Christian rap to Christian pop to Christian rock.

And she ends with this:

Basically, CCM caught on to the number one rule of coolness: don’t let your marketing show. The best bands—the successful ones, at least—learned to gloss over the gospel message the same way TV producers camouflaged corporate sponsorship. Explicitly Christian lyrics prevented DC Talk from crossing over to the secular market in the ’90s; today it’s difficult to imagine their unapologetic faith making it in the Christian circuit.

This trend spreads beyond CCM into many areas of evangelical culture. The church is becoming increasingly consumer-friendly. Jacob Hill, director of “worship arts” at New Walk Church, describes the Sunday service music as “exciting, loud, powerful, and relevant,” and boasts that “a lot of people say they feel like they’ve just been at a rock concert.” Over the past ten years, I’ve visited churches that have Starbucks kiosks in the foyer and youth wings decked out with air hockey tables. I’ve witnessed a preacher stop his sermon to play a five-minute clip from Billy Madison. I’ve walked into a sanctuary that was blasting the Black Eyed Peas’s “Let’s Get it Started” to get the congregation pumped for the morning’s message, which was on joy. I have heard a pastor say, from a pulpit, “Hey, I’m not here to preach at anyone.” And yet, in spite of these efforts, churches are retaining only 4 percent of the young people raised in their congregations.

Despite all the affected teenage rebellion, I continued to call myself a Christian into my early twenties. When I finally stopped, it wasn’t because being a believer made me uncool or outdated or freakish. It was because being a Christian no longer meant anything. It was a label to slap on my Facebook page, next to my music preferences. The gospel became just another product someone was trying to sell me, and a paltry one at that because the church isn’t Viacom: it doesn’t have a Department of Brand Strategy and Planning. Staying relevant in late consumer capitalism requires highly sophisticated resources and the willingness to tailor your values to whatever your audience wants. In trying to compete in this market, the church has forfeited the one advantage it had in the game to attract disillusioned youth: authenticity. When it comes to intransigent values, the profit-driven world has zilch to offer. If Christian leaders weren’t so ashamed of those unvarnished values, they might have something more attractive than anything on today’s bleak moral market. In the meantime, they’ve lost one more kid to the competition.

So, I’d like to look at whether listening to contemporary Christian music is a good way to build a strong faith that lasts.

Should people sing about things that they don’t know are true?

I would not be comfortable singing about a state of affairs that I did not know was true. And yet, that is exactly what happens in churches and youth groups. Young people are brought up to sing about a story without first having any evidence that the story is true. Imagine what that does to a person – what are they thinking about the purpose of the singing? They don’t know these things are true, but they sing anyway! The church services almost never link what the Bible says to anything in the real world. Naturally, as soon as children hit the university, they fall away. Their questions about the problem of evil, the problem of suffering, the problem of world of religious pluralism, the hiddenness of God, justice of Hell, etc. were never answered.

I think this anti-intellectual approach is really damaging. The impression of Christianity that young people will have is that truth doesn’t matter, that you can sing about something just to be part of a group, and for emotional pleasure. Then with the end-of-the-world fiction and other Christian fiction – all for enjoyment, and all not connected to knowledge. How does any of that connect to the real world? When young people are taught that being a Christian has no connection to reason, evidence or the real world, then their Christianity doesn’t survive leaving the safety of their home and church.

Christian music reinforces the idea that Christianity makes you feel good

The problem with Christian music is that a person listening to it can quickly develop the idea that what Christianity is about is having happy feelings, because people feel happy when listening to music. I’ve noticed that a lot of Christians leave the faith because they have this idealized notion that the world should be a happy place, where no one ever feels bad. Then they find verses in the Bible that are exclusive and judgmental, and they leave the faith because Christianity is too “mean”.

Those emotions of compassion and intuitions about happiness are not compatible with hard verses of the Bible and exclusive Christian doctrines. If we teach children that happiness and doing good things are what Christianity is about, then eventually they will dump it when the open profession of their faith causes them to have bad feelings and to lose friends. I think young Christians in particular feel pressure to jettison Christian rules when it comes to dating and marriage – because they want to be happy, and they think that the rules shouldn’t stop them from pursuing happiness. If they don’t know why the rules are there (truth) then they will just reject anything that conflicts with their intuitions, emotions and desire to be happy. If the purpose of life is to have good feelings about yourself, and to have everyone like you, then Christianity is not the answer. If the purpose of life is to know the truth and to live according to it, then Christianity is the answer.

English is not a subject that is very friendly to Christian beliefs

I note that she seems to have studied English at the undergraduate level and is currently studying it at graduate level, which I think is significant. English is well known to be a hotbed of postmodernism, deconstructionism, feminism and socialism on campuses. She would therefore be under enormous pressure there to abandon her faith, especially in order to get good grades. Nothing that she did as a young person would equip her to deal with the pressure from peers and teachers when challenged on her Christian faith. Singing, reading fiction, Bible reading and prayer do not help a young person who is confronted by peer pressure and secular left professors holding the grading pen – especially in English where marking of essays is subjective.

I think that mathematics, computer science and engineering are much safer fields for Christians to study. My background is in computer science, and I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in that area. These areas are safer because it is much harder for the professors to inject politics into the curriculum, so that students don’t have to be forced to accept things on faith, without any critical thinking or debate. Math features answers that are right or wrong regardless of politics, and programming features programs that either run or not, regardless of religion.

It’s not a good idea to stay a student all your life

Our CCM woman seems to have been a student all her life. She doesn’t have the skills or the money to make it on her own. She has to agree with them in order to get tuition, student loans, etc. – in order to live away from her parents. This would be another pressure on her to turn away from her Christian faith. She is trapped by not having any marketable skills that would allow her to earn a living without having to agree with anyone’s views. Students also have the things they read handed to them – it’s much harder for her to find the time to read things that the professors don’t want her to read – and she could never bring those things up in class safely anyway. A lot of people who thrive on being told that they are good prefer to stay in school where it is easy to just do whatever the teacher says in order to get good grades – especially in non-STEM fields like English.

Ten pitfalls of the foolish Christian apologist

From Apologetics 315, a list of ten common traps that Christian apologists fall into.

Here are my really bad ones: (links removed)

1. The foolish apologist speaks before listening. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” Not only does he communicate to others that he could care less about what they have to say, but he also becomes unable to give a well informed answer. The wise apologist is patient, seeks to understand, and avoids monologue.

7. The foolish apologist neglects spiritual disciplines. He finds reading philosophy more interesting than reading the Bible, so he neglects the Bible. Prayer is seldom and rushed. In fact, prayer, meditation, Bible study, worship and fellowship take the back seat to study. The foolish apologist deceives himself that he is being spiritual, all the while drifting away. The wise apologist sits at the feet of Jesus.

9. The foolish apologist isolates himself from others. He doesn’t need their input. He doesn’t appreciate correction. He has his own plans, his own agenda, and own personal ministry. He refuses to let iron sharpen iron. When he falls, he has no one to help him up. He’s accountable to himself only. The wise apologist surrounds himself with godly counsel and fellow laborers.

I know that some people will think that I am guilty of number 8, but sometimes you have to break the rules in order to get the conversation started, and then walk it back later.  That’s how you get the other person to engage.

Do any of these pitfalls that Christian apologists fall into sound familiar to you?

Does contemporary Christian music build up a lasting Christian faith?

Here’s an interesting account by a young woman who became secular by becoming very involved in Christian music and then jumped to secular music because it was better music.

Excerpt:

“Who’s in the House” is a hip-hop track about the presence of the Lord. Through megaphone distortion, Carman rapped a few lines: “You take him high / you take him low / you take JC wherever you go,” then led into a call and response hook reminiscent of ’80s-era De La Soul. “Tell me who’s in the house? JC!”

If you’re wondering what teenager in her right mind would listen to a forty-year-old Vegas showman with a Jersey accent rap about Jesus, the answer is: me. In junior high, I saw Carman in concert three times. The Standard was the first CD I ever bought. I rocked out to Carman on my Walkman on the way to youth group and dished with my girlfriends about what a hottie he was. At the concerts, I bought his T-shirts and posters, and when he called out “Who’s in the House?” I made my arms into letters, YMCA-style, with the rest of the crowd and shouted “JC!”

I was homeschooled up until tenth grade, and my social life revolved around church. I grew up submersed in evangelical youth culture: reading Brio magazine, doing devotions in my Youth Walk Bible, eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Left Behind series, and developing a taste in music that ran the gamut from Christian rap to Christian pop to Christian rock.

And she ends with this:

Basically, CCM caught on to the number one rule of coolness: don’t let your marketing show. The best bands—the successful ones, at least—learned to gloss over the gospel message the same way TV producers camouflaged corporate sponsorship. Explicitly Christian lyrics prevented DC Talk from crossing over to the secular market in the ’90s; today it’s difficult to imagine their unapologetic faith making it in the Christian circuit.

This trend spreads beyond CCM into many areas of evangelical culture. The church is becoming increasingly consumer-friendly. Jacob Hill, director of “worship arts” at New Walk Church, describes the Sunday service music as “exciting, loud, powerful, and relevant,” and boasts that “a lot of people say they feel like they’ve just been at a rock concert.” Over the past ten years, I’ve visited churches that have Starbucks kiosks in the foyer and youth wings decked out with air hockey tables. I’ve witnessed a preacher stop his sermon to play a five-minute clip from Billy Madison. I’ve walked into a sanctuary that was blasting the Black Eyed Peas’s “Let’s Get it Started” to get the congregation pumped for the morning’s message, which was on joy. I have heard a pastor say, from a pulpit, “Hey, I’m not here to preach at anyone.” And yet, in spite of these efforts, churches are retaining only 4 percent of the young people raised in their congregations.

Despite all the affected teenage rebellion, I continued to call myself a Christian into my early twenties. When I finally stopped, it wasn’t because being a believer made me uncool or outdated or freakish. It was because being a Christian no longer meant anything. It was a label to slap on my Facebook page, next to my music preferences. The gospel became just another product someone was trying to sell me, and a paltry one at that because the church isn’t Viacom: it doesn’t have a Department of Brand Strategy and Planning. Staying relevant in late consumer capitalism requires highly sophisticated resources and the willingness to tailor your values to whatever your audience wants. In trying to compete in this market, the church has forfeited the one advantage it had in the game to attract disillusioned youth: authenticity. When it comes to intransigent values, the profit-driven world has zilch to offer. If Christian leaders weren’t so ashamed of those unvarnished values, they might have something more attractive than anything on today’s bleak moral market. In the meantime, they’ve lost one more kid to the competition.

So, I’d like to look at whether listening to contemporary Christian music is a good way to build a strong faith that lasts.

Should people sing about things that they don’t know are true?

I would not be comfortable singing about a state of affairs that I did not know was true. And yet, that is exactly what happens in churches and youth groups. Young people are brought up to sing about a story without any evidence that the story is true. Imagine what that does to a person – what are they thinking about the purpose of the singing? They don’t know these things are true, but they sing anyway! And as they grow up, the church makes it a badge of honor to speak only about what the Bible says, and never links what the Bible says to anything in the real world. Naturally, as soon as children hit the university, they fall away. Their questions about the problem of evil, the problem of suffering, the problem of world of religious pluralism, the hiddenness of God, justice of Hell, etc. were never answered.

I think this anti-intellectual approach is really damaging. The impression of Christianity that young people will have is that truth doesn’t matter, that you can sing about something just to be part of a group, and for emotional pleasure. Then with the end-of-the-world fiction and other Christian fiction – all for enjoyment, and all not connected to knowledge. How does any of that connect to the real world? When young people are taught that being a Christian has no connection to reason, evidence or the real world, then their Christianity doesn’t survive leaving the safety of their home and church. If Christian parents wanted their children to be able to integrate their faith with what is taught at the university, then they would have to do better than singing, end-of-the-world fiction, praying about romantic relationships, and so on.

Christian music reinforces the idea that Christianity makes you feel good

The problem with Christian music is that a person listening to it can quickly develop the idea that what Christianity is about is having happy feelings, because people feel happy when listening to music. I’ve noticed that a lot of Christians leave the faith because they have this idealized notion that the world should be a happy place, where no one ever feels bad. Then they find verses in the Bible that are exclusive and judgmental, and they leave the faith because Christianity is too “mean”. This is especially the case with young women who are inclined to doubt God’s existence because of the problem of evil and the doctrine of Hell. If young women are not aware of the reasons why Christianity is true, then the experience of being perceived by others as “mean” can cause them to abandon their faith. Social pressure is an enormous factor in the behavior of women – they want to be accepted and liked by everyone.

Those emotions of compassion and intuitions about happiness are not compatible with hard verses of the Bible and exclusive Christian doctrines. Many people If we teach children that happiness and doing good things are what Christianity is about, then eventually they will dump it when the open profession of their faith causes them to have bad feelings and to lose friends. I think Christian women especially feel pressure to jettison Christian rules when it comes to dating and marriage – because they want to be happy, and they think that the rules shouldn’t stop them from pursuing happiness. If they don’t know why the rules are there (truth) then they will just reject anything that conflicts with their intuitions, emotions and desire to be happy. If the purpose of life is to have good feelings about yourself, and to have everyone like you, then Christianity is not the answer. If the purpose of life is to know the truth and to live according to it, then Christianity is the answer.

English is not a subject that is very friendly to Christian beliefs

I note that she seems to have studied English at the undergraduate level and is currently studying it at graduate level, which I think is significant. English is well known to be a hotbed of postmodernism, deconstructionism, feminism and socialism on campuses. She would therefore be under enormous pressure there to abandon her faith, especially in order to get good grades. Nothing that she did as a young person would equip her to deal with the pressure from peers and teachers when challenged on her Christian faith. Singing, reading fiction, Bible reading and prayer do not help a young person who is confronted by peer pressure and secular left professors holding the grading pen – especially in English where marking of essays is subjective.

My first career choice was to be an English teacher – I won simultaneous awards for English and Computer Programming in high school (public school, not homeschool). But then I took an early university course in English, while still a high school student, and realized that it had been compromised by feminism and postmodernism and other untestable ideologies. Personally, I think that mathematics, computer science and engineering are much safer fields for Christians to study. My background is in computer science, and I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in that area. These areas are safer because it is much harder for the professors to inject politics into the curriculum, so that students don’t have to be forced to accept things on faith, without any critical thinking or debate. Math features answers that are right or wrong regardless of politics, and programming features programs that either run or not, regardless of religion.

It’s not a good idea to stay a student all your life

To be a Christian, it helps to be able to have your own source of income so that you can buy books and debates to learn with. I have been working in the field of computer science for 15 years, starting in middle school, and have saved pretty much everything I’ve earned. I saved about half of what I make. I never take money from the government, although I accepted scholarships from the university because I just considered it a reduction in tuition. The problem with getting things for free is that you get what other people give you – in this case, the government and the university. If you want to rebel against the secular leftist zeitgeist, you have to have arms to rebel with – and arms cost money. William Lane Craig debates and F.A. Hayek books cost money. And you can’t depend on the government or the university to provide you with those.

Our CCM woman seems to have been a student all her life. She doesn’t have the skills or the money to make it on her own. She has to agree with them in order to get tuition, student loans, etc. – in order to live away from her parents. This would be another pressure on her to turn away from her Christian faith. She is trapped by not having any marketable skills that would allow her to earn a living without having to agree with anyone’s views. Students also have the things they read handed to them – it’s much harder for her to find the time to read things that the professors don’t want her to read – and she could never bring those things up in class safely anyway. A lot of people who thrive on being told that they are good prefer to stay in school where it is easy to just do whatever the (secular left) teacher says in order to get good grades.

Avoid women who do not know why they believe what they say they believe

I just want to reiterate to Christian men that they should be asking questions of Christian women before falling in love with them, to make sure they know why they believe what they say they believe. Here are some questions to ask to find out if a woman is a solid Christian that should help men to detect women like the one who wrote the essay. This post may also be useful. Christian men: be careful with women like this who look good, but who fall away. Don’t get hurt.

Related posts

Are skirts or jeans more modest for women to wear?

My thoughts on summer clothes

For the ladies, I think the first concern is the functional scenario. If the woman is going to be exercising or playing a sport, then I recommend long just-above-the-knee dress shorts with pleats. Those are pretty modest but still provide full movement. Actually, there are these things called skorts that are actually shorts that look like skirts. Those are REALLY modest if you get them in a long enough length – like just above the knee.

For anything not active, then I think that loose-fitting slacks or below the knee length skirts are modest, but functional. Loose-fitting jeans are modest, but I  don’t like jeans because a woman cannot really express herself with colors – jeans are usually blue, and what does that say? Nothing. And jeans don’t look soft and feminine either. I like women to be different than me in the way they look and dress, but the same as me in the way they think and debate. I like slacks better than jeans – they are just as functional and look better.

That being said, jeans are probably the best for doing practical things in. I think the main thing is that a skirt can be immodest if the fit is too tight, just like jeans can be immodest if the fit is too tight. So a lot depends on the fit. I think a skirt is more modest because although it shows the lower leg, it hides the upper leg and behind better.

I was informed when I inquired that jeans can be “low-slung” and that those should be avoided in front of strangers in public. I also don’t think women can show cleavage to just anyone in public. I think the problem there is that it sends the wrong message to strangers. Trying to get attention the wrong way.

For swimwear, I recommend anything with a sarong on the bottom, and without a plunging neckline.

What should women try to communicate with their dress?

Well, I’ll just give my opinion.

If a woman really, really want to get a man’s attention, then wear a full length dress with a style and colors that express something. I like brilliant white, fire engine red and brilliant white, or midnight black and brilliant white in a striking design – something that you might see on a Honda motorcycle. But other colors that have patterns that range over a larger area with a nice contrast are also awesome. I think clothes should be stark and bold and that the colors should be chosen to communicate something about the woman’s character. Anyway, that works on me.

I think that in public with strangers that a woman can always show her neck and upper chest, arms below the shoulder, and the leg below the knee. I think that women can show more in an exercise/sport situation. I’m opposed to showing cleavage to strangers in public. It attracts the wrong kind of attention and in the wrong way. However, in private with people she knows, then the rules can be relaxed. Part of the fun of a relationship is for a woman to reveal herself to a man progressively and to get appropriate compliments and attention, especially if she is working out and dieting and needs encouragement.

Here – this one is perfect:

This is fine to wear in public

Modesty is actually really important. How can a woman attract a man without being too revealing? When can she show more rather than less? What is appropriate? How can a woman communicate to a man with the way she dresses?

Any thoughts from our readers?

Acknowledgements

You may be wondering how I even found out about all of this stuff since I know nothing at all about clothes. Well, I asked a bunch of women I respect, of course. Six of them! All of whom are either famous, or who have commented here, or both. I don’t want to say their names, except for Foxfier, who gave me her permission.

Friday night funny: Obama’s magic speeches and wise Latina writings

Scrappleface reports that Obama’s Cairo speech has worked!

“I suppose I’ve been a bit unreasonable, testy, even dictatorial at times,” said the contrite Iranian leader. “After that speech, I feel like my eyes have been opened. How could I have missed all of the common ground we share with America and Israel. I’m going to have Barack over to the house, and let him know that Iran’s nuclear ambitions can take a back seat to our desire for true brotherhood and unity. And boy, do I ever owe those Jews a big apology?”

According to Press Secretary Gibbs, Obama plans a similar speech… for atheists:

“Most peace-loving atheists want nothing more than to be left alone to pursue sensory stimulus, pass along their DNA, and then to allow their carbon molecules to reunite with the soil,” said Gibbs, “but instead they bear the reproach of those who blame them for the actions of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and George Soros.

…Like most Americans, atheists want safety for their offspring, those charming little vessels of genetic code,” said Gibbs. “They want the right to elect representatives who will make laws guaranteeing survival of the fittest. They want freedom to speak whatever ideas the electro-chemical reactions in their brains happen to produce….”

Steven Crowder meets Alfonzo Rachel, and they explain what Republicans are really like. (H/T 4Simpsons, Hot Air)

Oh, I know I’m just like those two! Well, I look more like Zo than Crowder.

Here are some of Ronald Reagan’s best lines: (H/T Club For Growth)

Barney Frank’s fascist tendencies are showing: (H/T Michelle Malkin)

You can also read some of the wise Latina’s writings. (H/T Muddling Towards Maturity)

LifeNews reports on her interview with Senator Demint:

“When I asked if an unborn child has any rights whatsoever, I was surprised that she said she had never thought about it,” he said. “This is not just a question about abortion, but about respect due to human life at all stages — and I hope this is cleared up in her hearings.”

Happy Friday!