Browse By

Why hate The Fray and define "Christian Music"?

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a true “rant” … so hold back and wait for it.

Last night, I cheered, I screamed, I cringed…all because of one of my favorite shows on the radio – Total Axxess with our friend Wally on WAY-FM.  Let me clarify…Wally wasn’t the cause of my frustration…but, rather, the issue that cause him to be frustrated as well. Wally blew his whole show out of what was planned  because of emails and calls recieved at the show about playing The Fray’s You Found Me.  They’ve called Wally, Total Axxess, WAY-FM, and the Fray everything under-the-sun for playing the song.

Why?  At root of the issue is this common misconception that we must always be “positive and encouraging” when it comes to “Christian Music”.  I see a few problems with this thought process.  First, the Bible is far being only “positive”.  If you’re picture of the Bible is some “feel-good book of the year” – then you haven’t been reading your Bible.  There is God in the midst of folks carrying on in sodomy saying “forget it….I’m wiping out the whole lot of them”.  No positive “pep talk”….just flat out “this is ticking me off”.

Take Job, Job had it worse than any of us have or, I beg, ever will.  Job had all of his family and friends telling him “just tell God off and be done with it!” yet he remained strong in his faith.   That didn’t mean that he didn’t question God and want to know why.  It was an awesome display.  Verse after verse after verse Job and his friends had a huge debate.  Job decided he would speak for God’s motives and God finally decided enough was enough.  He set Job in his place by asking him simple questions: “Have you ever seen the storage warehouse where I keep all the snow that falls on the earth?” (The Whitehorn Translation)  Point taken.  Score one God – but it still leaves room to wonder why.

This is what You Found Me is about:  asking questions…wondering…trying to figure out why God does things in His own time…questioning the reasons why He does what He does…even though we know the His Will is perfect.  Instead, we pretend that it is not acceptable to wonder “why” but that we should, instead, supress those natural feelings and sing “Holy Is The Lord” while smiling – all the while pretending we don’t wonder.

So I ask you this….what picture of God do you want?  One who knows you wonder…despite whether you verbalize it or not…and One who expects you to pretend you don’t ever question or wonder……..

….or One who says “I know you have questions…ask me whatever you want and I’ll tell you honestly?”

We’ve made ourselves, as parents, a world of “because I said so” folks instead of simply telling our children why we ask them to do or not to do something.  I think God has handled and will continue to handle matters as the latter.

Ranting on…

Perhaps we are wrong because we write songs that are outside of the mold of “happy life” and use words other than those located in Hymnals?  After all…we have to be careful in “Christian Music”.  Can I ask a silly question?  What is “Christian Music”?  I write songs…and they happen to be about God or some aspect fo my faith and my daily life.  is this “Christian Music”….or is this simply writing a song?  I was having a conversation with Michael Gungor and Matt Maher after a songwriting workshop session a few weeks back and we were discussing “what makes a Christian song”.  One of the two – either Gungor or Maher – pointed out that we get too carried away at times in our own worship services with trying to be too positive.  To the person just trying out a new church for the first time…do they really understand that “Our Goooooooooooooood is an awesome God” when they’ve just been laid off?  Do they want to sing “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” when they can’t possibly understand His love after dealing with loosing a child – and they deicded to come to church to try to make sense of it all?  Not likely.  Should we be writing songs that point out the troubles we have in life but also point to THE solution?  Absolutely!

It doesn’t have to be “fluffy” in mainstream either.  This is why Isaac Slade, lead singer of the Fray tossed out almost all of his old “Christian Lyrics” that were branded by nature years ago.

Slade says he used to “write all Christian lyrics” until he had an moment of awakening while working at Starbucks: “None of my friends outside the church understood any of my songs; we had a different set of vocabulary,” he says. “So I went home and threw away all those songs.”

He adds, “If I handed somebody a double grande mocha latte and told them, ‘Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,’ they might throw it back on me.

Ya think?  No…Slade understands where people are and where they live and writes to that aspect.

“If we grow up in the church, it’s easy to think it’s our Christian duty to preach to every single person because God is the most important thing” says Slade.  “And he is, but I’m a musician first. This is my job. We’re not pastors. We’re not preachers. We’re not even missionaries.”

I bet ya God would sing a verse or two with Slade in You Found Me!  Suprisingly, there are many who boast Christianity to fail to see the humanity of God’s love for us and His understanding of what we are challenged with.  For this reason, they scream and yell in the name of being a Christian when the music deviates from what they define as “Christian Music.”

Want to cry?  Want to feel every bit of my frustration right now?  I want to take you back just a few short days ago to an awesome concert that took place in Louisianna.  MercyMe and several other artists were putting on an awesome show for thousands down in the parrishes – all while protesters — protesters who claimed the name of Christianity as their catalyst – marched and yelled outside the venue.  They claimed that MercyMe was rock-and-roll and “HipHop” and that their music, for those reasons, was corrupting the minds of the young.  Why?  Why some choose to look bad and look like zealots to the secular world all while professing Christianity?

I don’t think there is a single better example of how stark the differences are between those who protested in the name of Christianity and those whom they were persecuting than a video created by one person who was on that tour.  (You can read more here.)  Brody, thanks for putting it all into perspective in such an awesome way!