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Ask the Rock Doc: 
Shrink-wrapped advice for a song 
Dr. BLT offers advice for a song to music-minded youth and adults in crisis. 

The following inquiry has been paraphrased, with certain details omitted and/or altered to protect the confidentiality of the subject.

Ask the Rock Doc 
Sound Advice for the Musically Minded 
by psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. B.L.T., The Rock Doc 

Dear Rock Doc: 

I recently joined an all-female Christian band called Cross-Eyed.  We were in the middle of laying down some really cool songs for our new CD when I found myself getting irritated at some of the so-called Christians in the band.  After witnessing some of their comments, I came to the conclusion that they were nothing but angry, hostile, judgmental hypocrites.  I took a break from the band, simply because I couldn't take it any more.

First of all, knowing fully well that I have a sister who is gay, who wants to marry her partner, they started expressing their support for the amendment to the constitution that forbids gay marriages.  I mean, please!!! If God was so down on gays, what about all of those folks in the Bible who had several wives, slaves, the whole nine yards?  The Bible doesn't say one condemning word about any of them.

That's not all.  One day just after we had finished a rehearsal, we were all sitting around watching some kind of entertainment news show when it was announced that Linda Ronstadt recommended that movie Fahrenheit 9/11 to her audience at one of her shows and started criticizing fundamentalist Christians.  Well, they all knew I was a huge Linda Ronstadt fan, and that I also saw the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 and liked it.  Instead of being forgiving Christians, they all started saying things like they were going to burn all their Linda Ronstadt records! They were probably hoping that she'd burn too--in hell. I really want to be a part of their band, but I just don't know what to do about all the hypocrisy.  Can you help?

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me
 

Dear Poor, Poor Pitiful You:

This is a tough one because it involves the intersection of faith, politics, and psychology. Music could also be incorporated into such a confluence of factors for obvious reasons.  It seems that you have determined that your music with the band cannot be harmonious as long as there is a seemingly impervious barrier between you and the other band members.

I'd like to tease apart some of the elements within this harrowing labyrinth so that a solution becomes more apparent. Let's start with psychology.  I'd like to start with two important psychological phenomena--perception and communication (also know as the 2 D's of communication: discernment and delivery).

Perception: In an ideal world, we would all perceive things as they really are with no distortions of reality. Oftentimes, in the real world, a previously neutral subject matter becomes emotionally charged through an upsetting experience or series of experiences. The previously neutral phenomenon suddenly takes on an emotional dimension and thus evolves into a phenomenon renowned psychological theorist and philosopher Carl Jung termed a "complex." We all have complexes of one variety or another, but some of us are aware of these complexes and some of us are blind to them. I believe that you may have developed a complex around the issue of morality, but I'm not sure where it comes from. Perhaps your parents were overly strict, or they were overly permissive. Either extreme can produce a similar type of anxiety as it concerns moral issues. Perhaps you had some very negative experiences with individuals who called themselves Christians. Maybe they said hurtful things that left enduring emotional scars. Perhaps that turned you off to all Christians who share similar beliefs to the ones they professed. If that is the case, the members of your band could have innocent intentions and actually mean you no harm with their comments. That leads me to the next phenomenon, or, rather, the next set of twin phenomena:

Discernment & Delivery: If this is not a case of perceptions skewed or distorted according to a particular complex, the problem may have to do with the ability of members of your band to effectively communicate, or to effectively deliver their intended message. It starts with discernment. Christians are called to be the salt of the earth. As such, silence is not always an option. The question is, how can the salt be delivered in a way that it does more good than harm, so that it does not add insult to injury?

There is nothing wrong with having a moral opinion on a subject such as gay marriage. It doesn't make you a hater if you disagree with love in your heart. I have such a moral opinion on the matter, and it's probably not one that would please you. At the same time, I'm sensitive to the complexity of the issue, and also to the sensitivities of gay individuals who have strong opinions on the subject. In fact, if you're interested in learning more about my views on the subject, I can send you links to my articles on the subject, published in __USA Today__ and __Orthodoxy Today__.

Notice that with my reference to these articles, I didn't force my opinion on you, but left you with a choice. This is an example of appropriate delivery. Before expressing views on controversial subjects, I always test the level of receptivity in the intended receiver of my message. If the person is receptive to what I have to say, I pass on my opinion, for what it's worth. If I sense resistance, I refrain. It is possible that, as it concerns your negative encounters with band-mates, it is not a complex in you that is causing you to become upset, but the inability and/or unwillingness of band members to effectively communicate or deliver their message in a manner that is not offensive. Perhaps certain members (perhaps all) of the band make comments out of haste, without testing the receptivity of the intended recipient of their message.

Leavin' Linda Far Behind?!!!

That leads me to the issue of Linda Ronstadt. Linda Ronstadt is a citizen of a wonderful country known as the United States of America where free speech reigns. On the other hand, just because you are free to express something doesn't mean that you should express it. Or maybe if it is something that you feel compelled to express, there is a better time and place to express it, and/or a more suitable, more receptive audience.  Lately, The United States of America feels more like the Divided States of America, simply because of those who express their views without consideration for those who are forced to hear their gratuitous utterances.

Perhaps Linda Ronstadt hates conservative Christians. Maybe she was thinking about a Christian she hated when she sang her big hit, "You're No Good." If that is the case, she faces a grave problem. Such is the same sentiment that fuels the rage of many a terrorist. Such an issue is a matter of the heart, and, as such, requires divine intervention to overcome. To borrow from one of her greatest hits, she may have such a gargantuan tear in the middle of her soul that all the "Silver Thread and Golden Needles" in the world cannot mend it. On the other hand, she may simply be angry about the way she has experienced certain conservative Christians, and hasn't learned to effectively communicate her feelings towards those within the conservative Christian community who may have offended her.

I don't blame your band-mates for being upset. I was upset enough to write a song about it I call "Leavin' Linda Far Behind." Nevertheless, I love her music. She has a wonderful voice. I'm just not in the mood for it these days. Your band-mates, on the other hand, may appreciate the sentiments I reveal in this song, and are welcome to listen to or download the song for free if and when I ever get around to recording and adding it to the free downloads at my site--but enter <http://www.drblt>www.drblt at your own risk.

In summary, I ask you to prayerfully examine your perceptions and to openly communicate your feelings with band members. If an honest appraisal and an open dialogue reveals that {the ultimate source of the problem is them, and not you, pray that they will find the strength, courage, and humility to change. Also, pray that you will have the strength, humility, and courage to forgive them. As I once said in a song, "Right Wingers Need Love Too."

We all need to pray that God will deliver us from our distorted perceptions, that he will unite this divided nation, and that he will assist us in knowing when, {where,} and to whom our messages should be delivered.

In closing, I'd like you to focus on the name of your band, Cross-eyed, and how it might relate to the words of this beautiful hymn: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus / look full in his wonderful face / and the things of earth will grow strangely {dim / in} the light of His glory and grace." If you folks can work it out, and, if and when all of that dust begins to settle, I'd encourage you to get back together with your band and really begin living up to your band name.

Take it from me.

Dr. B.L.T., the Shrink Rappin' Rock Doc 

If you are a musically-minded person in distress, write Dr. BLT at drblt@drblt.com
 
 
 

Dr. BLT, aka Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, is a Christ-centered licensed clinical psychologist and university instructor who specializes in the psychology of modern music.  He uses his original songs as well as those of other artists to address the problems of his patients, including his biggest, sickest, most challenging patient--society.

His face and name recognition, particularly with teens, comes from his short part on a long Cake music video--the Cake video for “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” that earned the band a nomination for Ground Breaking Music Video of the Year on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. 


 
 
 
 

 

 
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