Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Gimme Me The Beat Boys..."

One-and, two-and, three-and, four-and... was the way it went when I started trying to fetch a catchy sound from my first trumpet in the 6th grade at Mckinley School, Tacoma, 1947.
The rhythm was always set to the first and third beats in a 4/4 time. Then came rock music as it rolled over the country to a new beat; they call it, "back-beat", because the rhythm is set to the second and 4th beats in 4/4 time.
The 'back-beat' sets a different rhythm pattern entirely to the music. Virtually all popular (and even Christian) music for the past 40+ years features back-beat, rhythm fills, bass guitar, electronic distortion, and VOLUME!
Thrice we went to concerts that (retrospectively) we should not have attended. The first was Dire Straights in the Greek Theater in Griffith Park Amphitheater. The second was to hear Robert Palmer (now dead) at Universal Studios. We were close enough to the stage where the sonic wave "thump" of the base drum could be felt on one's chest. Our ears were stuffy for two days. The third concert (at the same place) was a country-western blast that featured Reba McEntire. We didn't even let her get through the first song. (I watched her watch us as we got up and left). On the way out a night watchman asked us why we were leaving so soon and I said, "Because that's not the kind of music God wants us to listen to. (I guess you can see that the Holy Spirit had been working on us; especially me, because there is in me a resonance and a harmonic with rhythm and harmony. (And yes, I love the Acapella harmony of the Gaither Vocal Band). Where was I? Oh yea!
So...when it comes to spirited discussions about music in the church, for me it's a no-brainer. I know jazz, classical, country, southern gospel, band, big band, barbershop (I sang lead), trumpet, fluglehorn, church solos by the hundreds...I've either heard or done them all. There is one HUGE exception; I hate rap and hip-hop.
Let me summarize my opinion/attitude/belief on the issue of music in Seventh-day Adventist churches because I see blossoming a two-tier schedule for Sabbath Services; the first bears the kindly label, "Traditional" (which is translated, 'The one for the old poops'), and the second is called, "Contemporary" (which is translated, 'The one for the young' where they serve up (just try to challenge this) back-beat rhythm, bass guitar, electronic distortion, rhythm fills, (and often) VOLUME.
CONCLUSION: If it looks like the world, if it sounds like the world, if it feels like the world (including the thump on the chest thing), if it is more excitatory than inspiring then...it is of the world. And...if it is of the world what in the world is it doing in my church?
One Friday night I ventured only as far as the doors of a church in downtown Redlands, California. I had seen posters advertizing a religious concert. Well, it was so loud and so paganistic it was intoxicating and only the intoxicated were staying. I walked away disgusted and here's the reason; find a so-called religious-rock CD, filter out the words and then listen just to the music. Is there anybody out there brave enough to tell me this music is a gift from God designed to take us closer to Christ? I challenge anyone... anyone to discerne and describe the difference between the arrangements of Pagan rock and Christian rock (oxymoron anyone?)
How far should we go? A mainline church in downtown Seattle has a jazz service every week. Hey, that would bring folks in; right? A jazz concert was held for John Paul II at the Vatican. I know; lets get ecumenical.
I think I know why this is happening in our church and to our church. If you grow up feeding on Habanero chili peppers, who wants to eat manna? I mean, how many ways can you fix manna? Never mind whether manna is good for you; never mind you never get sick as long as you stick with the sticky stuff; never mind that none of the Scriptures are set to Rap or Hip-Hop; never mind the wishes of God for His people!
Let's all sing in harmony and unison; "I want my MTV!"
Stick that in your I-Pod and plug it into your brain!
With vitriol and sincerity, e.c.
God Bless. Here's a sing along; "If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now...

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