I’ve about had it with people justifying crappy art by saying that “It’s Christian!” And frankly, if I was God, I’d be a little miffed that my advocates were out there making atrocious music and writing terrible books after all the stuff I’ve given them, but I guess he really looks at it like those crappy finger-paintings kids bring to their parents…
This is not to say that everyone who publicly sings or writes or speaks about loving God is automatically awful, by the way. Matisyahu might be one of the most revolutionary musicians to emerge in the last ten years and that guy hasn’t changed a thing about his orthodox Judaism and writes songs exclusively about that. And rocks the music scene. Most of the time when people get sober their music just goes down the crapper (Aerosmith, Coltrane) but Johnny Lang is out there rocking it and putting on a better show than ever. It’s really amazing. And although I never ever would’ve picked it up, “The Shack” was surprisingly moving and thought-provoking, (even though it bordered on brain-washy once or twice.) And I think Christopher Moore’s “Lamb…” is the best book about Jesus ever written, if not one of the best books ever written. (YOU MUST READ IT. Even if you never want to have anything to do with Jesus and think his followers suck. Seriously, it’s awesome. Not preachy, not brain-washy. Just fun. Promise.) People have been moved to do great works of art in any genre in the name of God for thousands of years so don’t think I’m railing on that at all; I strive to be God-inspired in what I do, too.
HOWEVER, if I had a dollar for every person that told me “He’s a Christian musician/writer/comedian, but he’s actually really good!” I’d literally have a couple grand in savings. And I don’t get why people don’t understand that that sort of recommendation is not only ridiculous and cliche but will only result in repelling me further.
The worst thing is how people can produce genuinely terrible work and the Bible-thumping crowd will eat it up and then judge people who don’t like it as people who must be anti-Jesus. For example, I picked up a book last weekend called “90 Minutes in Heaven” that I’d heard a lot about from a few church-goers I knew. And it. Was. AWFUL. I mean, the story might’ve been okay (I couldn’t get through the whole book) but the author had a ghostwriter and even then the book read as though written by a 13-year-old. And I say “13″ specifically because all of his points were redundant, paragraphs were repeated ad nauseum without bothering to rephrase them at all and he loooooved making those melodramatic, blunt sentences that signal truth and transition at the end of every subsection. And somehow he managed to make the story drag through redundancy even though the book was 140 pages.
Bad. Badbadbad. Even the family members I talked to who had read it admitted that they couldn’t get through it because the writing was abysmal. And yet, this book has sold millions upon millions of copies while other, actually brilliant novels have sat gathering dust on shelves. It’s bullshit.
I remember a few years ago I attended a church that did those contemporary “rock” services that were just dreadful. When I told one of my acquaintences that the music made me want to take a drill to my ears she looked at me as though I’d said, “Jesus can go screw himself.” and then made it a point to never speak to me again. Yeah, I get that this makes her a loser of epic proportions but seriously? We’re judging people on what sort of music they listen to now? I guess that goes back to the whole church mentality of “YOUMUSTAGREEWITHEVERYTHINGWESAYORYOU’REDAMNEDTOHELL!!” that so many people don’t realize is optional.
But when I worship, it shouldn’t feel like a chore. I shouldn’t be made to sing boring, soulless songs that move me in no way, (this is why I think we should all sing gospel music exclusively. And not that bland, WASPel that they advertise collections of on the Weather Channel, but real, African-American written, raucous, joyful, 20-minutes-per-song gospel.) I shouldn’t be forced to listen to crappy comedians who rely on outdated cliches and the fact that they’re syndicated through churches to keep their careers alive, I shouldn’t have to read godawful literature that’s just some talentless moron’s way of making money off blind followers. I want to be moved. I want to feel God and feel life and feel joyful for all of it. (And no, Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” drivel didn’t even start to budge me, so don’t throw that crap in my face… again…)
I just don’t get why people think that you can’t have genuine, legitimate, innovative, fun art and still be considered divinely guided. And I’m tired of watching terrible artists find relative success just because they’ve learned how to manipulate the Bible Thumpers demographic. And I’m really reeeally tired of people feeling like they have to pray for me and worry for my soul because all but 4 contemporary Christian musicians suuuuuuck.