Christian Music As an Art
By Chris MacIntosh
For the majority of those
who listen to what is commonly called contemporary Christian music, it
is a place to be spiritually fed or uplifted and sometimes although not
very often challenged. It is very seldom looked upon as a place of creative
art and even less as a place to seek after artistic beauty. This is a shame
because there are a great many artists who hold to a biblical world view
who are creating wonderful pieces of amazing art not only in the field
of music but in all of the arts as well. As I sit here writing this piece
I am listening to an album by a bass player from Sulfur, Louisiana named
Trip Wamsley. Trip's music is primarily solo instrumental pieces performed
on various bass guitars. It is not evangelistic in nature at all but yet
it wonderfully conveys the beauty of the gift giving creator of art.
St. Francis Of Assisi once
said," Preach the gospel and if necessary use words". How can you preach
the gospel without words, very simply by living a life pleasing to the
God whose image we were created in. As an artist whether it be a musician,
poet, painter, actor, novelist or whatever, we need to seek to emulate
the excellence that we see our Father in heaven showing us in his everyday
creations. Walk down the block just before a thunder storm and watch the
sky change from bright blue to a stormy darkness. Sit on the beach at sunset
and listen to the roar of the ocean as the tide comes constantly in and
out never ceasing to perform its unending song. Go to a museum and gaze
at some of the beauty created by men and women gifted in the arts or better
still visit someday an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral and be absolutely overwhelmed
by the sheer elegance of works created to display the magnificence and
awe of God.
Going back to the original
thought of music by artists who are Christians, there are basically two
types of Christian music, by that I don't mean genres. I am speaking of
that which reflects the light of God and that which shows us the world
that we live in as reflected from the light of God. Most CCM tends to show
us a world that does not as of yet exist. It paints a picture of a world
with no pain, no suffering, no heartache. That world will someday exist,
once the Lord Jesus returns to rule in triumph and glory, but that day
is not yet. We live in a world filled with pain and hurt and despair and
to ignore those aspects of our existence is to lie to ourselves and to
those around us. Musicians such as Bill Mallonee, The 77's, the late Mark
Heard and others have at various times chosen to express the hurt that
they feel through music and have given us brilliant and honest pieces of
music to be challenged and stimulated by.
There are others in the
music field whose music has lifted me to heights of peace, of such exquisite
beauty that it makes me want to weep with joy. Men such as Jeff Johnson
or the band Iona make music that is at once exhilarating as well as challenging.
The most recent release, as of this writing, by the band Glass Hammer called
"The Inconsolable Secret" is nothing short of brilliant both musically
and lyrically. Yet you will never hear it played on any "Christian" radio
station because it just doesn't fit into the accepted mold. Recently the
band Caedmon's Call was told by their record company to change the chorus
of one of their tunes, the reason was that it contained the word "sad"
in it and that would never get air play on a CCM station. We need to break
out of the cookie cutter world of mediocre art that the CCM industry has
created and seek after and if we are artists create art that is thought
provoking, honest, brutal and beautiful. Only then can we look at
ourselves as sub-creators reflecting the creativity of the true creator
of all true art. Below is a very partial list of works by artists who are
Christians in various forms of media you might care to check out.
Music: anything by, Glass
Hammer, Jeff Johnson, Lost Dogs, Iona, Steve Lawson
Films: Spider Man 2, The
Patriot, Hellboy, Braveheart.
Novels: anything by Dorothy
Sayers, any of the Inklings, Stephen Lawhead, Robert Don Hughes.
Enjoy and revel in excellence!!!