Sunday, January 9, 2011

the 30-day christian music listening challenge: DAY 1

Today I listened to Christian music on purpose, like K-LOVE challenged me to. I was raised on Christian music® and psychotically loved a lot of it for a long time, and still love some of it. I don't have the emotional bandwidth or attention span right this second to go into my backstory and current thoughts on Christian music so I will just tell you about today.

We listened to it while driving to church, actually, and were also listening to a Gordon Fee lecture on Romans (double-fisting spiritual activities) when I remembered the challenge and turned on SPIRIT 105.3, Seattle's Original Family-Friendly Station. (In this vigorously unchurched vector of America it must be more appealing to listeners to not use the word "Christian" in your radio station name even if that's what kind of station you are.)

The song we landed on sounded like the Goo Goo Dolls circa 1995 with a guy singing "oh how he loves us" over and over, so many times that I wished too late that I'd started counting from the beginning. It didn't really vary much from that. He yarled at both the beginnings and ends of lines, doing that Karen Carpenter-y growling thing with the same words. The music part was mostly three chords and even though we didn't start listening from the beginning the song didn't end for six minutes.

That song expired to a video game sound effect and then someone I can only assume was a caller said "I enjoy this station because I think if we listen to upbeat positive music then we will have a better attitude and be more pleasing to God." Then the next song started while I fumed that they just outright said that there was anything we could do that could make us more or less pleasing to God. Because that is the whole point of the gospel, that there IS NOTHING WE CAN DO TO MAKE GOD BE MORE OR LESS PLEASED WITH US. Grrrrrr. That's the problem with Christian culture right there. All this ran through my mind and my teeth clenched and my heart was sad. The next song sounded musically exactly like the other. "Lead me cause I can't do this alone." This one clocked in at 4 1/2 minutes and honest to, well, God, it sounded like the exact same band and singer, although it was a totally different band. After the song was up my chest hurt and my throat was tight and I put on some Ray Davies to try to feel better.

Mood assessment before listening to Christian music: Optimistic
Mood assessment after listening to Christian music: Angry and sad
Time spent with Ray Davies in order to recover: Nine minutes (recovery marginal)


rachel said...

oh boy.
as much as i would love to hear about the next 29 days, i fear for the long term damage.

Rye said...

Ooo, I hope you win the prize pack!

Sarah said...

I don't know how you even had the courage to start. I couldn't do it. My dad listens to Christian radio every morning and I catch phrases here and there (which usually mandates my putting in Arrested Development or The Office to buffer), and I can barely tolerate that. Dad has the EXACT SAME rationale for listening to that crap that the mystery caller had.

Praise songs pretty much defined my adolescence, and frequently old praise and worship lyrics from songs I used to love will flash across my brain and then I spend hours deconstructing them. I'm always left feeling angry and sad, partly for PTSD reasons, partly for the way destructive theology was packaged so catchily. I'm also angry and sad that some of the prettier songs I can't even sing anymore, because the lyrics are so poisonous.

Rebecca M said...

Although I admit to being an occaisional listener, I spend quite a bit of time turning off SPIRIT in response to the general whiny-ness of most songs they play.

Why is it that on a Christian, sorry, Family Friendly radio station the main theme I hear among the lyrics is "Wah. My sin is so difficult and my life is so hard"? Where's the joy? The hope?

I really think it's more popular now to write a whiny life sucks christian pop song than a Jesus-is-my-girlfriend christian pop song but they both make up the bulk of what I hear en la radio de Espiritu.

Why do I still listen? I think I really do appreciate their ad selection. It IS family friendly.