Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The curse of media

So now is the time I unleash my full tamed-down attack on music and television shows that aren’t good for people. If a song or program has a negative influence on people, then it is not worth listening to – in fact, it is bad to listen to. There are two issues here, the former being the main one: 1) The influence the music we listen to and TV we watch have on us. 2) Specifically regarding Christian music, what attitudes, values, and ‘spirit’ people perceive in music – is it a light to the world?

1) The way music and TV influence us

Music and TV. Next time you listen or watch some, try and figure out what effect it has on your mind. Let’s consider music today. Turn on the radio and your ears will soon be filled with talk of sex, anger, rebellion, confusion, and general poor thinking. How can it not affect us? Surely it already has!

I believe we tend to become like the people we associate with, and I think a similar thing applies to what we watch and what we listen to. So, if a person was screaming their lungs out angrily right beside you, then you’d recognise the mood of anger in their voice, and surely you’d be affected in some way. Likewise, if someone keeps talking about how attractive some girl is, or how much they hate something, or generally speaking with some attitude, I think we pick some of that up – even without meaning to. You pick up the attitudes of those who are around you – the people you spend time with. Why would it be any different if those people are in the TV or stereo rather than standing beside you?

As far as music goes, I think most people can figure out whether the words of a song a health or unhealthy to listen to, but I think the ‘attitude’ of a song is reflected not only in the words, but in the music itself. This, I think, is the point where there is confusion and controversy. I think music connects with our emotions. We are influenced not just by the words of the music but by its ‘sound’ – its spirit – whether we admit it or not.

As an example, it is no secret that I don’t like ‘heavy’ music. The reason is simple; it doesn’t make me feel any better, in fact I think it has a bad influence on me. Sure, heavy music is aggressive and driven and purposeful and heart-felt and it ‘sounds cool’ – but what do you feel like once you’ve listened to it? I think heavy music is ‘cool’ and I totally understand how people can like it, but I choose not to like it because I find it doesn’t have a good influence on me.

Most of the time, ‘heavy music’ is accompanied by screamed or yelled vocals… The words are only part of what the song conveys to the listener, which is the sum of the words themselves AND the music. I do not believe screamed vocals simply ‘sound cool’ - for such vocals are far from conveying anything like peace, love, hope, or goodness. I suggest that people think it’s cool because it’s angry and opinionated, strong-willed and unwilling to be silenced. People think it’s cool to be shouting out your point at the top of your lungs and breaking the mould and bucking the trend and being different. People think it’s cool to not go with the flow and not accept what everyone else is telling you. Our parents called this rebellion. As Christians, we are called to be not just different and bread the mould, but to be different in a noticeably Godly way. Just because something’s common, it doesn’t change what it is. Just because we’re used to something, it doesn’t make it good for us.

It comes down to this: why do we listen to the music we choose to? The answer, whatever it is, is surely more than mere entertainment. I think we want the music to influence our thoughts and emotions in a certain way – maybe sometimes it is to make us feel more justified about our attitudes, maybe sometimes it’s to change our attitude. Now sure, you can say – ‘it doesn’t have a bad influence on me – it just how the artist was feeling. They have a right to express their feelings.’ But that’s not my point, my question lies in why we choose to listen to those particular things. Why do we like the music we do?

I don’t think it is good listen to music that sounds angry, or rebellious, or arrogant, or perverse, or self-righteous, or mocking. It might be cool, but it might be harmful. Personally, some music makes me have thoughts that are a little more arrogant, a little more angry, a little more rebellious and outspoken, a little less Godly, a little bit more self-righteous or a little bit more like my opinions are more valuable that everyone else’s. Music influences me to think in a way that is reflected in the song – not just the words, but the whole attitude encompassed by the words and the music.

It’s a fact that people like a song mostly because of its ‘sound’ and not by the actual words of the song (and yes, this has been studied by lots of radio companies – guess why all the music on a certain station sounds the same…). So, I suggest that because a large part of why we like certain music is the ‘sound’ of the music, we associate ourselves with that ‘sound’ – and it influences us. Some music influences us in a Godly way, some is the opposite. We should recognise which is which.

Now popular television programs are there to ‘entertain’ us. But apart from wasting our time, television fills our minds with ideals to compare our lives with and things we wish we had. We see a home renovation program and we start to think ‘my house could be better too’. We become engrossed in the dramas that unfold, and we begin to accept such drama as ‘normal’. Pop stars and celebrities are idolised – and we begin to idolise them also. There are emotional battles on screen and after a while, we cease to recognise unhealthy ways to relate to people because we start to imitate what we see. We may not DO the bad things we see, but we begin to accept them. We may not be like the people we see on TV, but we start to accept them anyway. And because we accept them, we accept their behaviour and attitude.

Television blurs the distinction between helpful and harmful thoughts – and it puts ideas into our heads whether we like it or not. You can’t convince me that romantic chick flicks don’t put thoughts in girls heads – just like you can’t make me think sex scenes in movies don’t put thoughts in guys heads. You can say they don’t affect you when you see them, but you know they do. The more we see, the more we accept the thoughts. The more we accept it, the less we recognise them for what they are – selfishness, lust, negative comparison, dissatisfaction… the list goes on. It is no wonder that so many people are struggling to find enjoyment in life these days, because the path to truly enjoying life is to live and think in good ways. The media has introduced bad ideas dressed as acceptable ones and made the path difficult to see.

I don’t watch TV, and I don’t listen to the radio. I don’t miss them, and I am a much happier person because of it. Instead, I base my attitudes and thoughts on the reliable principles given by God, and as I live according to them I find them to be true. What comes out in your life is the result of what comes out of your mind, and what comes out of your mind is the result of what you feed into it. So, I listen to music that only stirs me toward good things, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, contentment, happiness, and Godliness; and I encourage others to do the same.

2) ‘Christian hardcore’ music – how is it seen by the world? Is it a Godly light?

If music affects us in its entirety; and not just because of the words themselves, then what should we think about music that imitates non-Christian music in ‘sound’, and differs only in what the words say? This is probably not just limited to ‘Christian hardcore’ music – it applies to a range of genres, but it serves as an example.

I think music is noticeably different if it has a noticeably different influence on the listener. Of course, Christian words will be different to non-Christian words with swearing every 5 seconds and general bad taste – but what about the ‘sound’ of the music. It strikes me as strange that Christian bands are trying to imitate the musical ‘sound’/mood of non-Christian bands. I think the ‘sound’ of the music reflects the attitudes that go along with that ‘sound’ – and so I view these Christian bands as trying to present Christian messages with non-Christian attitude.

Surely that seems a bit strange? Surely the attitudes of Christians should be distinct from non-Christians – there should be a difference, and it should be apparent that our lives and our attitudes and thoughts are different. What’s different about ‘Christian hardcore’ compared to ‘non-Christian hardcore’? Some would say the words and motivation of the music are different so that makes the music ‘good and Christian’. I say that words are only part of it – and the musical style and ‘sound’ portrays the same ‘spirit’ regardless of what the words are. I don’t really think the motivation (or intended meaning) of a song can have any influence on the listener if it is far from obvious.

Now I guess ‘Christian hardcore’ music, for instance, can act as a channel to communicate Godly messages to non-Christians who like that sort of music. But what does this sort of music convey to people who don’t like that sort of music? There’s a big difference between someone not liking a style of music and someone actually finding it offensive. I don’t mind some heavy music, I think it does sound cool, but I find it offensive because of the attitude I think it’s conveying to me. Now, I’m sure Christian bands don’t want to convey bad attitudes – but what good are their intentions if that’s not what someone perceives they are conveying?

So there are two sub-issues here: 1) Christian hardcore music as a means of communicating Godly words to non-Christians who like hardcore music. 2) How people who don’t like the style perceive it.

The first issue I think is quite possibly a good thing. The second issue I am not so sure about. I don’t think it’s very Christian to offend people – and I don’t think it paints a good picture of Christians if they are offensive. Furthermore, if the ‘sound’ of Christian hardcore music contains a spirit that has some bad attitudes in it – and let me leave you in no doubt that I think it does – then what does that leave other people like me thinking? I’m sure not everyone’s like me, but maybe some are.

Maybe Christian hardcore is a good means of reaching non-Christians – but I seriously question why Christians should like it… not that they DO like it – but that they should.

I think music was made to praise God and rejuvenate and refresh the spirit toward Godly thoughts. And somehow, I just can’t see Jesus screaming into a microphone into a wall of sound – so loud people get hearing damage and can’t really hear what he’s saying anyway. I don’t think Jesus needed to butter up His message with music to make people listen to it – and I don’t think He would have. This is a challenging thought for me as a songwriter and musician. I don’t think He would have hung around very long trying to persuade people who reject Him and what He said, and instead gone to the sick and the needy and the people who wanted to hear and talk to Him.

But then, I guess this is not the 1st century, and we’re not Jesus.

27 comments:

michelle said...

nice post, Reubs :)
I stopped listening to secular Radio when i was 16 so yeah, 4 years ago, just because it was having such a negative influence over me and my thought patterns. But i've continued to listen to Radio Rhema, and lately Life FM ... they're totally awesome :) And a great start to the day... i'm glad we're a relatively free country!
Also, i had to stop watching a lot of movies, especially those with sex scenes and lots of swearing, and even chick flicks.
I also had to really cut down what i read, as theres just so much crap out there (uh-oh.. does that count as a swear word? what can i use instead?)
er anyway, yes ...modern media is a curse sometimes!!

Katherine said...

Yes, but...well, personally I find it uplifting to sing Paul Hegglun's hardcore version of 'Let our praise to You be as insence' along with 2000 other people at Easter Camp. I'm not a big hardcore fan, but sometimes expressing my love for God at the top of my lungs is good. Or at least it seems to be.

For me, with the kind of temperament I have, it's not so much hardout angry music that gets me down as the poignant, melancholic kind, which is lethal to me because it's so beautiful. I'm often tempted to indulge myself in it, yet I know it does get to me. There's Christian stuff around that fits that description, too. A few weeks ago I made the mistake of listening to the album 'Much Afraid' by Jars of Clay, when I was already feeling down, and I had to turn it off because it was just pushing all my buttons and making me dwell on my confusion and negative thoughts.

However, many of the Psalms are along such lines too, and though we don't know what sort of music they were set to, one can only imagine a lot of it wouldn't have been too happy. So it seems God doesn't forbid me to let loose my emotions through music, as long as I discipline myself, like the Psalmists did, to guide my thoughts back to God, in Whom even my darkest emotions will find what they were searching for. Other times, for example, Jars of Clay has been uplifting, when I've had the strength to deal with it properly.

I tend to think we should try to acknowledge our emotions; and sometimes anger is appropriate too.

Katherine said...

Oh, whoops - that said, I definitely admire you for your pursuit of righteousness, and the boundaries you've set for yourself; and I agree about trashy movies and TV, and how things infiltrate even the most determined mental defences.

EONsim said...

Well I certainly don't disagree with your dislike of TV and the load of junk that's on it. However there are the occasional good shows and documentaries (History of Britian, Hogans Hero's, Get Smart, Star Gate etc) so you can't really write it off as all bad and by simply not watching it you do isloate your self from that which is good or interesting on it. Sure theres very little of it it just means that you need to be self controled when choosing what you watch and not just blob out in fonr of it. Note though that I personally hardly watch any TV 1 show a month or so unless theres a decent Series on like Hogans Hero's.

Again with most secular music I'd agree with you most of the secular Radio Stations I've heard are junk (at least from my point of view) and again I don't listen to it.

However I completely disagree with your attack on heavy music or atleast Heavy Christian Music. As far as I'm concered simplistic agruments can be used to attack just about any kind of music some of which you possibly like (rap, hiphop, pop, country, reggae and so on).To you as a Musician it may be the instruments that you pay the most attention to but that doesn't mean that every one does, and while with lots of the screaming it can become quite hard to determine exactly what the Artists saying it's not impossible.

Also you seem to think that anger has not part in music because It focus's and affects our emotions and can move us towards anger. I'd again disagree if you acctually stop to listen to some of the heavier music and analyse what they're saying and the direction the stuff points at you'd realise that there is such thing as "righteous" anger, sure it's hard for humans to keep it seperate from normal anger but it is possible. Read the lyric below and tell me that it is not right to be angery about such waste and that strong emotion and heavy music have no part in reaching out to those that will pay attention to it and hopefully make them think about it. Especially have a look at the last line, and this is just one example from one band of the heavier type of music you dislike.

Youth of the Nation (POD)

Last day of the rest of my life
I wish I would’ve known
Cause I didn't kiss my mama goodbye

I didn’t tell her that I loved her, how much I cared
Or thank my pops for all the talks
And all the wisdom he shared

Unaware, I just did what I always do
Everyday, the same routine
Before I skate off to school

But who knew that this day wasn’t like the rest
Instead of taking a test
I took two to the chest

Call me blind, but I didn’t see it coming
Everybody was running
But I couldn’t hear nothing

Except gun blasts, it happened so fast
I don’t really know this kid
Even though I sit by him in class

Maybe this kid was reaching out for love
Or maybe for a moment
He forgot who he was
Or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged
Whatever it was
I know it’s because

We are, We are, (We are) the youth of the nation
We are, We are, (We are) youth of the nation
We are, We are, (We are) the youth of the nation
We are, We are, (We are) youth of the nation

Little Suzy, she was only twelve
She was given the world
With every chance to excel

Hang with the boys and hear the stories they tell
She might act kind of proud
But no respect for herself

She finds love in all the wrong places
The same situations
Just different faces

Changed up her pace since her daddy left her
Too bad he never told her
She deserved much better

Johnny boy always played the fool
He broke all the rules
So you would think he was cool

He was never really one of the guys
No matter how hard he tried
Often thought of suicide

It’s kind of hard when you ain’t got no friends
He put his life to an end
They might remember him then

You cross the line and there’s no turning back
Told the world how he felt
With the sound of a gat

We are, We are, (We are) the youth of the nation
We are, We are, (We are) youth of the nation
We are, We are, (We are) the youth of the nation
We are, We are, (We are) youth of the nation

Who’s to blame for the lives that tragedies claim
No matter what you say
It don’t take away the pain

That I feel inside, I’m tired of all the lies
Don’t nobody know why
It’s the blind leading the blind

I guess that’s the way the story goes
Will it ever make sense
Somebody’s got to know

There’s got to be more to life than this
There’s got to be more to everything
I thought exists
Note it takes different types of music to reach different types of people to bash heavy Music and related forms because they aren't what reaches you is over the top I think.

The words are important as are the intentions of the artists behind it.

Another example ...

Intro
Yeah it's the P.O.D. right here
Coming straight from the S.D.C. -A
619's in affect, know what I'm sayin
Givin you that hardcore sound yeah
Comin' up from the ground
That's where it all started y'know what I'm sayin?
Yeah, this is hardcore, you why it's so hardcore
Cuz it's built on the rock - what rock you ask
The rock of Jesus Christ, yeah that's right
Givin you the truth cuz the truth hurts y'know
But that's how we sayin' it's down
We ain't got nothing to hide
And We're breakin it down like that y'know what I'm sayin
Hardlove, hardlove one way yeah, check it out

Abortion is murder
There's nothing you can say or do
to justify the fact
that there's a living breathing baby inside of you
3x
Abortion is murder
8x
Abortion is murder
There's nothing you can say or do
to justify the fact
that there's a living breathing baby inside of you
2x
Abortion is murder
12x
Murder murder murder murder
Abortion is murder
6x
And finally I'd like to leave you with this. Read it and think about it.Some might think my hair is too long
Some might fear the beat of this song
So much religion, so many rules
But this is us and we are tools

He calls us to be free
Enjoy that freedom, friends
In time, we all shall see
Where man-made rules end

I might offend you by how I look
But God will not, according to His book
It's by our fruit that we will be judged
To show the world Jesus love

So keep the sheep together
No matter if one's shaved
Cause the wool means nothing
For all Christ came to save

I respect old-fashioned ways
Let's come together in His grace
Lord help us all to understand
How you can use a hard rock band

Jim said...

If it wasn't for your seriousness in our discussion at the flat this morning, I would have thought of this as a straight out peace of satirical humour...

It's flipping ridiculous!!!!

"Our parents knew these sorts of attitudes by a different name – rebellion. This sounds like the sort of things I found in modern music is evil books made by southern baptists decades ago who didn't want their kids to listen to music inspired by black people.

"Personally, angry music makes me feel a little arrogant, a little angry, and little more rebellious and outspoken, a little bit more self-righteous and a little bit more like my opinions are more valuable that everyone else’s. Obviously you must have been listening to some very angry music when you wrote this post... You come off incredibly self righteous and as if you think your opinions are more valuable than everyone elses.

Why can't you just honestly admit that you don't like heavy music, nuff said? Why try and rationilise and spiritualise it?
I don't like Jazz. It's made by incredibly talented people, shows off amazing musicianship, but I just don't like it very much. Big deal. so what? I don't try and say that all jazz is evil simply because it doesn't make me feel better.

"If a song or program has a negative influence on people, then it is not worth listening to – in fact, it is bad to listen to. What about a book? should we all stop reading our bibles because it has a negative influence on some people... who have used it to justify slavery, racism and war?

"People think it’s cool to be shouting out your point at the top of your lungs and breaking the mould and bucking the trend and being different. Isn't part of christianity about breaking the mould and bucking the trend? Romans 12 (I think) "Do not beconformed to the standards of this world" and all. I don't know how that verse is translated in the RDR (Reuben's Dodgy Romans)

"It’s a fact that the influence of a song is determined mostly by its ‘sound’ and not by the actual words of the song." Is it just? Has it been scientifically proven? Is it in a peer reviewed journal? Humans descending from monkeys is. Does that make it a fact?

I say that it doesn’t matter what the words or motivation is – the words aren’t the point of the musical style and the motivation has no bearing on the influence the song has on the listener. To the acontray, I would say that in your face music is in your face, and the Christian message can be very blatant. Alternatively, background music sits in the background, and the message stays there. Putting John 3.16 in morse code in a song is a cool idea, but it is not going to get it in peoples heads, repeating over and over and being in the forefront of their minds as they make decisions during the day.

Reuben, Quite frankly, I am shocked that someone who is attempting to be a credible musician would make some of the claims you have just made here in this post.
Cheers

Matt said...

I see your point Reuben, but I disagree on a few points. Particularly, the idea that anger is necessarily bad. Jesus got angry. I listen to a lot of Rage Against the Machine, and believe me, it doesn't come much angrier. *But* what they are saying is much-needed, valid commentary on much of what is wrong with our world. It's the new protest music.

I think we *are* called to get angry and to rebel against the evil parts of our world, whether it be ourselves, our culture, or humanity in general. The idea of Christianity always being "nice" is not a valid one.

michelle said...

Jimmy, thats a bit harsh.... i can definately see where Reuben is coming from...!
I didnt voice my opinions on Christian music before cos it seems its a thorney issue....

Anyway, i quite like louder ragier Christian music, dending on what mood im in, which is just what Reuben has said. Except that i usually like it when im feeling passionate about God, and only occasionally when im upset or angry.
I dont really like Christian hardcore - the stuff with all the yelled lyrics- simply cos i cant understand what they're saying. I like to be able to hear lyrics, as that usually speaks more to me than the music. However in saying that, once i know the lyrics i dont mind listening to it as much...

Basically what i want to say is that i think theres a time and place for all sorts of music. Sometimes quiet, sometimes without lyrics, sometimes louder, sometimes more anguished, .... i think different situations and emotions need to have different types of music.
Like Katherine, i like the Easter Camp version of "let our praise to You be as incense" more than the other, and enjoy our church's louder ragier music, but i also believe that there are definate times where quieter and softer, and slower music benefits more :)
Yay to the person who has many varieties of music in their cd case!!
Brooke Fraser and Telecast for pensive
Planet shakers and united for passion
extreme days and rock compilations for when you're fired up
jennifer knapp and detour for when you need to lax out
Kutless and 12 Stones when your feelings run deep
yus..... go almost all Christian music... i believe it all serves a purpose :)

Brehaut said...

Jim has summarized most of my thoughts.

A few claims i would like you to clarify from our discussion this morning (and others) .

You mentioned that 'if only the lyrics are different how does that set it apparent from mainstream music?' (paraphrased). so, here you are saying that the music itself, and its sound/mood is more than 50% of the song. Earlier this year, in a discussion about your music, you claimed that the lyrics were the most important part. Surely, if its the most important part, it must be more than 50% of the sound. Something must be broken or my math is wrong, either the lyrics are of equal (or greater) important than the sound/style/mood, or they are not.

This distinction is kind of important; firstly, if the lyrics are most important, then you have in large part invalidated your whole claim about christian heavy music. If it is the sound/style/mood of the music that is most important, then please explain how the early church pulled off worship, because I am fairly sure that their style/sound etc would be vastly different from contemporary worship music. Also, would this mean that any song with the right sound (eg, excluding the lyrical content) is valid worship music?

Equal importance? The lyrics obviously have are important (50%, thats a fairly large part to be discounting in a song).

Anyway. clarification please.

Brehaut said...

The Don, i would dissagree with your call to Jim. Earlier today, we discussed this post in our flat. on the way to uni, i (and i suspect jim may too) felt as if I was being told that simple because i did listen to heavy music, honestly like the sound, i am less of a christian / more assuredly destined for hell, and bound to drag many unwitting people down with me, than reuben is.

i don't like country/western - which is renowned as the most depressing music in the world. but i would never (seriously) claim its not christian, despite the 2-2 time signature!

(slight exaggeration to get the point across, cause im crap at writing)

oh, and incidentaly, heavy christian bands have typically been very good at printing the lyrics in the liner notes. Some occasionally will also provide notes about the song as well.

And Let out praise is great rocked up.

Nathan said...

Reuben, good on you for posting this. Don't let your thoughts be changed because of pressure.

To those who aren't in agreement, I sense a bit of emotion happening here... if I were to put on an ad hominen hat, I might say that you are justifying your listening to heavy metal, because you listen to it, and enjoy listening to it. Strong sounding arguments often result from people trying to justify their own behaviour when they know they are on shakey (sp?) ground. I trust this isn't the case.
I am not implying you aren't giving full consideration to what Reuben is saying, I'm just saying we probably should keep the argument reasonable rather than emotional.
That said, I'm probably not a good example of this, so do what I say, not what I do :)


As to the actual issue, I think this should be given serious thought - music affects us. I'm not sure a blanket no-heavy-music rule would be the answer, but perhaps we ought to be discerning on its effects on us (and hence an all-heavy-music rule wouldn't cut the mustard, or even an a-lot-of-heavy music - I'm tending towards agreeing with Reuben). I have been challanged to think about how all of my music affects me, including the lighter stuff.

Kelly said...

I still like you Reubs! And I like a lot of heavy music. Mwa-ha. Everyone else can deal.

Matt said...

I think perhaps heavy music shouldn't necessarily have been singled out. I totally agree that music can (massively) influence moods, and hence behaviour and attitude, but I think any music does it, and to my mind there is stuff that is far more destructive than anger.

For instance, gangster rap really affects me in terms of the way I see girls; not enough to affect my behaviour, but enough that I'm aware the danger is there. Hence, I choose not to listen to ganster rap (or, more pointedly, watch the music vids). A lot of chick-pop I find dangerously seductive — not because I like the music, but because it sounds "sexy". Again, I try to avoid that kind of stuff. Some music I find depressing; it tends to make me grumpy, so I avoid it (unless I'm having a pity party)

So yes, music can definitely influence you. But I don't think that heavy music should be singled out — personally, really heavy music (screaming included) can be incredibly uplifting and freeing.

Perhaps Jimmy (?) is right, when he suggests you've gotten personal taste mixed up with this debate...

Jessi said...

I'd just like to throw into this that maybe it's up to the individual.
Some people I know want to go kill themselves after listening to heavy raging metal. Others get fired up and excited about stuff.
I'll definitely agree that music affects your moods, but I think it varies from person to person.

So, more importantly, we should look at the way the music we listen to is affecting us individually. It's like what Matt was saying about how different styles affect the way he is thinking...

If Brehaut and Jimmy, for example, don't find themselves reacting to the music in a negative way then it shouldn't be a problem.

I know there are some rage-y songs I like which just make me go "yeah! I'm going to stop being lazy and do something productive!" because it gets my adrenalin going. But there are others that make me want to curl up in a ball and cry...

You know, on a side note, you can compare music to drugs or alcohol- it affects everyone's moods on different levels. There are happy drunks and mean drunks (not to say that drinking is a good thing but that's a completely different story). And personally, I'd view metal-fans the same way.

Someone commented that maybe Brehaut and Jimmy are just trying to defend their own musical tastes, however, I don't like metal myself, but I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with it.

Is all of it "angry"? This is where lyrics come into play. Some of it I'd just consider "adrenalin pumping", or excitable, rather than angry.

So... I think lyrics really do play an important part in music.

Anyhoo, I could be wrong- I haven't really thought this out at all, but just randomly commenting, seeing as I'm a musician. *grins* :)

Mike said...

I think that you would be stretching it to suggest that music affects different people the same way.

Personally, I really like world-music / crazy digeridoo stuff for when I am feeling introspective... Katherine has actually borrowed my Rivertribe CD if you want to listen. Others however may like to listen to Jazz, rap, *shudder* country and western........ whatever.

More power to you for avoiding things that you see as having a negative affect on you, I think it's really good that you can pinpoint what sets off triggers in you. My hat goes off to people like you and Matt, and I would say that SOME of the things you have mentioned affect me the same way. (I avoid most rap music videos for a start :P)

The bible says (and I'm trying unsuccessfully to find the verse), that not everyone is tempted by the same things, and we should not do anything that leads other people into temptation, even if it has no effect on us.

Does this mean that we should not have a christian metal scene because some people find it has a bad effect on them? I don't have a hard-and-fast answer for that. Christian metal believe it or not is a pretty good evangelism tool.Should we, as Andrew so-likes to put it: "Throw the baby out with the bathwater?"

I don't think we should. Personally, I think the answer is simple. If you don't like it, don't listen to it.

I think it is a mistake to say that "everyone gets angry when listening to rock music - they should listen to quiet, peaceful music", just as it is a mistake to say "everyone who does the ferry crossing gets seasick - they should all fly instead". Both modes of transportation are legitimate, but are better suited to some people than others. (some people get airsick, are afraid of flying, prefer to go by boat, have cars etc...)

Everyone is different. No two people are not on fire....... Awwwwwwwww....

incognito said...

OK, thanks for your comments as always. Firstly, some apologies on my part…

I was trying to be a little controversial, to stir some discussion – and evidently some people have thought I was being arrogant, and therefore, I was being arrogant. Stupidly, I also used lots of ‘you’ statements instead of ‘we’ statements and so naturally it has a more personal ring to it. And I am aware some of us feel quite passionately about heavy music, and so naturally they might feel personally attacked because I am questioning something they like.

But, it was not my intention to make anyone feel personally attacked, nor any less ‘Christian’ – certainly we are all just as imperfect as each other compared to Christ and just as in need of God’s grace. Accordingly, it would be good if we could all refrain from personally attacking people to make our points – I hardly think that’s needed.

Lastly, I didn’t make my points very clear – I have now collected my thoughts better and quite significantly modified my post accordingly, with changes shown in green.



Now – to respond to some of your comments…

It seems most of you like Christian hardcore music, and I’m not questioning that. I don’t like Christian hardcore, and I’m not questioning that. I’m questioning what its influence on people is – is it purely a good one?

It seems I should also clarify that I have specifically hardcore music in mind – stuff where the lyrics are yelled, screamed etc. I had used ‘heavy’ in parts previously, which perhaps caused some confusion. The difference as I see it is in the ‘spirit’ / ‘sound’ of the music.

A lot of you have picked up on the ‘anger’ side of things which I did emphasise – and have since tried to de-emphasis in my post because it wasn’t really my point. Yes, it is good to have righteous anger at bad things in the world, but it is bad to become an angry person. I’m suggesting that listing to music full of anger often influences the listener to become more of an angry person. I think it is the same with other attitudes that might be conveyed by music – good and bad.

Jimmy, I’ve addressed your last point in more detail towards the end of my post now. You second-to-last point highlights my poor writing skills yesterday, I have change it to say what I meant to say now. I have also addressed your third-to-last point in more detail in the post.

Brehaut, you correctly point out that I had completely ignored the fact that the words of a song are important. I had ignored this because I wasn’t talking about the words – but I have corrected my post now to indicate both the words and the ‘sound’ are important. The importance of each I suppose is a matter of opinion.

Matt, like I said – I’m not questioning people’s tastes – I’m questioning the influence music has on people. I appreciate that some people find hardcore music uplifting and freeing, though I would wonder why. I agree heavy music should not be singled out – but I have used it as an example.

Mike, you are correct that people think of music differently, and some people don’t THINK they are negatively affected … that’s not really my point. My point is – what is the actual affect on people? Why do we like the music we like? Why listen to hardcore instead of classical, for instance? Why screaming vocals instead of instrumental? Why words that say a particular thing in a particular way? Sure, it’s because we like it – but do we like it because we want to BECOME like it? And if we become like it, what will we be like?


I’m just got a bit sad at how accepting Christians in generally are becoming of all the things they watch on TV, and maybe the same is true of music. I’m not trying to jump on the ‘rock-music-is-evil’ band-wagon, I’m just wondering how the things we watch and listen to really affect us. I know some of the music I have doesn’t have a good influence on me – so I shouldn’t listen to it.

OK. I need to sleep.

incognito said...

Incidentally, it’s interesting that so many comments are on the ‘don’t listen to music that’s bad for you’ post instead of the ‘be Godly’ post. I’m not talking about music, I mean in general… Why do we give so much attention to justifying what we do instead of just doing what God wants?

Jim said...

"I don’t think it’s very Christian to offend people – and I don’t think it paints a good picture of Christians if they are offensive. " Surely, bagging someones musical choice as ungodly is far more offensive than listening to it.

"somehow, I just can’t see Jesus screaming into a microphone into a wall of sound – so loud people get hearing damage and can’t really hear what he’s saying anyway." Perhaps he would have played a les paul through a dirty marshall stack though... Something about dealing with all that's wrong with the world by pouring himself out on a plank of wood....

"if the ‘sound’ of Christian hardcore music contains a spirit that has some bad attitudes in it – and let me leave you in no doubt that I think it does " Do you mean an actual evil spirit type spirt - cause that's a massive call to make, or just a mood?

To me, the sound/mood of the majority of the harder edged music I listen to is one of energy, passion, enthusiasm, and in many cases actually love and unity.

eg, stretch arm strong's song, "for the record"
We were more than just a tour date. You were more than just a song.
We sweat and sang together and that helped us to carry on.
We were more. You were more. For the record.
Tht's the lyrics, and to me the mood, feel of the song reinforces them

"It comes down to this: why do we listen to the music we choose to? The answer, whatever it is, is surely more than mere entertainment. I think we want the music to influence our thoughts and emotions in a certain way" Yes, I do want to influence my emotions a little. I do want to feel more energetic, passionate and enthusiastic, rather than bored or sad and single as much (not all) of the slower, less "angry" music around sounds like to me.

"It strikes me as strange that Christian bands are trying to imitate the musical ‘sound’/mood of non-Christian bands." Well this one fustrates me too. But the issue here is not exclusively one of hardcore music. This phenonomen is much more common in Christian pop, and much "worship" music... (the chillout worship cd anyone?)
Apparently many old hymns are simply new words written for old pub tunes.
There are non Chrisitan acoustic singer songwriters. Does that mean we shouldn't listen to Christian acoustic singer songwriters beacause they sound similar?
Goths wear black trousers. Does that mean we shouldn't wear black trousers, as we would be imitating goths? Does that mean that because a particular chruch encourages their worship team to wear black trousers we should not go there?

incognito said...

I'll respond point by point your comment Jimmy:

1) Offence. I think your argument is poor for this reason - I'm not accusing personal tastes, I'm questioning the actual influence of the music on people. If this influence is bad for people, then surely it's not a bad thing to point it out? If doing drugs is bad for people, then surely it's a poor argument to say that just because someone who does drugs is offended by my saying their bad that it doesn't mean their bad.

2) Not quite sure what your point is... it would be interesting to see what Jesus would do today... I don't think anyone is really well qualified (including me) to answer that.

3) 'sound' --> spirit: No, I don't mean an actual evil demon - I mean it's harmful because of the way it affects people. I think there are plenty of things that aren't intrinsically evil that have bad effects on people.

I don't really think the words are what I'm talking about - I would question whether the 'mood' really is one of simple energy, enthusiasm, etc and question whether it might have other bad elements mixed in with it.

5) influence on us: Sure, the energy etc is a good thing, but if there are bad things in there too, those will influence us to.

6) christian music imitating the world. yes, it's a tricky one. I think it comes down to the mood again for me... there are some really beautiful, or uplifting, or encouraging non-Christian songs out there - just like there are some non-Christians that are probably more like Christ that some Christians. So long as we're imitating Christlike things, I don't think the label of 'non-Christian' matters too much.

You seem to frequently be taking arguments to extreme like "Goths wear black trousers. Does that mean we shouldn't wear black trousers, as we would be imitating goths?". I think such arguments are clearly not very sensible or constructive - and though I see your point, I don't think it's a particularly compelling one.

That's me.

Mike said...

Just to clarify your position a bit....

"you are correct that people think of music differently, and some people don’t THINK they are negatively affected"

So you are saying here that while some people like listening to "heavy" christian music, and it makes them feel good on the surface, it is really doing them damage?

That is an interesting argument to make. I don't have an opinion one way or the other yet.... I would be interested to investigate it further.

Let us deconstruct this. Because so many people have so many strong opinions about rock music, let us replace the words "rock music" with "brussel sprouts".

"you are correct that people think of *BRUSSEL SPROUTS* differently, and some people don’t THINK they are negatively affected [by them]"

Okay, the first part of your statement.. I can agree with that. Some people like brussel sprouts, and some people don't. That seems pretty simple.

The second half of your statement... While some people eat brussel sprouts, and enjoy them, they are actually bad for you. (Let us assume for the moment that they are). What evidence is there that brussel sprouts are bad for you?

Do people actually get sick after eating them? Or is the people who are gagging and choking just the people who think they taste like petrol?? I can see how people who like them can defend them, and how people who don't, want to get rid of them entirely.

I know some very godly hard-core christian music fans. It was a shame you weren't at Parachute to see Skillet - they are a prime example. Another awesome moment for me was the WASH pit.

Sure we were all screaming at the top of our lungs, getting trampled on by other people, getting soaked in our own and other people's sweat, but personally it was more about me worshipping God with all my body, rather than just my voice.

If that isn't an example of "going nuts for God" then I don't know what is.

I prefer that kind of worship. Call me a closet-pentecostal if you will, but it feels awesome to be given the opportunity to go absolutely nuts and worship God, instead of standing sedately at church and half-heartedly singing hillsongs.

You may have a different view, and I don't begrudge you that. I like brussel sprouts, you don't. That doesn't mean that we don't both like carrots.... (and we all have to get our vitamins somehow)

incognito said...

Great comment mike.

"So you are saying here that while some people like listening to "heavy" christian music, and it makes them feel good on the surface, it is really doing them damage?"

That's exactly what I'm asking. As far as the hilarious brussle-sprouts analogy goes there are two questions you raise:

1) Do people actually get sick after eating them?
2) Do some people just not like the taste? (paraphrased)

As far as I see it - we all agree on number 2. People have different tastes. I am simply asking the first question.

For me, I cannot worship God to *brussel-sprouts* - because I keep choking and gagging on them 'cause I don't like their taste. For others like yourself, it seems *brussel-sprouts* helps you to worship God. I don't have a problem with this - people are different and that's a good thing. But what if *brussel-sprouts* actually contain a chemical that builds up in your brain and has a tendancy to induce certain behavioural patterns? I say, 'has a tendancy' becuase I don't think music affects all people in the same way - but maybe it influences quite a few people a certain way.

Now what's more - is from Paul's argument in the bible... He says we shouldn't eat food with others if they consider it to be bad. So, should we *eat brussel-sprouts* around people who feel sick because of eating them?

What's more is what if the chemicals in *brussel-sprouts* don't spark disease in us - but could give others disease (like we're naturally immune, for instance). What if our eating of *brussel-spouts* encourages someone else to eat them and actually get diseased?

So, I guess we should be careful where we have *brussel-sprouts* - in case they don't affect others in the way they affect us.


Personally, I have found that the choice of music that I listen to affects me. It is a most subtle effect, but it is there nevertheless. And sometimes I notice it when I suddenly find I'm annoyed at someone for no good reason and realise I was just listening to music that I often feel that way after listening to.

I believe I have noticed the influence of music has on other people too... often it's a circle. Someone wants to listen to a certain type of music, so they do, and then they want to listen to more of it, and more and more. So they choose something, and that choice pushes them to choose more of it. (this is the way it goes for lots of things that are both bad and good for us I think). It's impossible to determine which causes which most of the time... It's hard to say whether someone's character the result of what they're doing, or whether what they're doing is the result their character.

Maybe it's similar with music. Most people (myself included) would say that we listen to certain music as a result of what WE want. But maybe what we want is also influenced by the music we listen to. And if so, do we really know if we want to listen to certain music because of who we are, or is who we are moulded by the music we listen to? And what is the shape of that mould?

Jim said...

Reubz, you seem to have missed the facetiousness of my Les Paul comment. Never mind.

The black trousers thing. Of course It's an extreme example, but that is the logical conclusion of what seemed to be your train of thought. It may seem ridiculous to you, but good, cos that is exactly how your applying a similar argument to heavy music seems to me!

You said "influence on us: Sure, the energy etc is a good thing, but if there are bad things in there too, those will influence us to. It is your implication that there are bad things in heavier christian music, and that because of them it should be avoided, that I take soem issue with. It has been said by many people in their posts that a particular kind of music influences people in different ways. What if the bad things that give you a negative reaction when you listen to heavy music are not in the music but in you?

Let's go back to brussel sprouts. If you have a bug that makes you throw up your food, it's not the brussel sprouts that are bad, it is something in you.

You claim you are " not accusing personal tastes, I'm questioning the actual influence of the music on people. " The way your post and comments, even the adjusted bits, are written does imply you are seeking to condemn a particular style, or at least defend and spiritualise your dislike of it. If you wanted our opinions on whether there is an influence you could have said something like, "Hey guys, I think I personally get negativly influenced by heavy music? Does anyone feel the same? what about other music? does anybody find that listening to jazz or swing makes them think bad thoughts?"

Incidently, I went to see a jazz band play at lunchtime and it was kinda cool.

"there are some really beautiful, or uplifting, or encouraging non-Christian songs out there - just like there are some non-Christians that are probably more like Christ that some Christians. So long as we're imitating Christlike things, I don't think the label of 'non-Christian' matters too much."On imitating beautiful non christian things...
From Isaiah 53, vs 2-3
...He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Just because something is "beautiful" does not make it christlike. Sweetly sung songs by someone like Christina Aguilera can be dangerous.

I would rather listen to Project 86 loudly than Christina Aguilera. I think it can be much healthier for someone to listen to music that is screaming about how terrible exploitation of women is, than to listen to someone who markets herself by wearing singlets and pretending that they are dresses.

EONsim said...

Ok I really shouldn't be commenting at this time of night as I'm really going to screw up my argument but blah!

Yuo seem worried about the way Hardcore music is copying to some degree the "sound" or secular music of a simialr type Music whichs Lyrics are not "good".

So I take it you belive certain sounds always influence us badly and that the words become some what less important.

As far as I can see many Hardcore Christian Songs have lyrics with meanings that are considerable more pointed than other styles such as christian pop where in many cases you could replace the words Jesus, Christ or God with lover or "bitch" (or something equiv sorry for the use of the word but making a point) with out substantually altering the song. And so in discarding the lyrics we are left with the sound!

So certain sounds produce certain feelings/emotions you would argue. But I ask you what emotions are inherently evil? There are some but do you know of music that can invoke them with out words? Anger is not inherently evil/wrong it's how we decided to deal with it or use it that determines what is evil/wrong.
Something like jealousy on the other hand might be inherently wrong or at least a lot harder to use in a constructive manner but I can't think of any combo of sounds that would bring that to mind.
What I'm saying is I doubt that most sounds are either Good/right or Evil/Wrong (excepting chalk being squeaked across a blackboard that really is Evil! :P). Also different people associate different sounds with different emotions I think.

Which brings us back to the Idea that Hardcore msuic is bad which for at least some secular music I'd certainly agree WHEN you take the LYRICS into account! So we are back to the Lyrics if you acctually care to look at the Lyrics I've posted above and the various ones Jim can no doubt supply you with I doubt you could say they're bad! Some might be rather hard to understand sure but they're generally not bad/evil! Sure with the Screaming it can be hard to understand exactly what they're saying but generally it's not impossible.

What the problem is I think is that for some reason Hardcore style music just doesn't "fit/suit" you and your've heard abit of the nastier stuff and some how thats become associated with the style in your head biasing you (Note thats one of the reasons I really don't like rap. Something about the style bugs me and then during 7th form I heard ALOT of Gangster and M&M style rap, that combined with the stuff thats generally seen on TV has but me completely off that music style, however I'll admit quite happily that that doesn't make it evil even though I associate it with bad stuff). You've taken the stigma associated with non christian nasty Hardcore and associated it with the sound of the music (probably more strongly than most being a Muso).

And seeing I like it I'll end it up with this lyric again (even though it's not quite so relavent to your updated and corrected post) and I'll probably reread this and change it so It acctually makes sence at some point unless of course I read it and discover I did manage to make sence at 3:45am.

Chad.
God bless


Some might think my hair is too long
Some might fear the beat of this songSo much religion, so many rules
But this is us and we are toolsHe calls us to be free
Enjoy that freedom, friends
In time, we all shall see
Where man-made rules end

I might offend you by how I look
But God will not, according to His book
It's by our fruit that we will be judgedTo show the world Jesus love

So keep the sheep together
No matter if one's shaved
Cause the wool means nothing
For all Christ came to save

I respect old-fashioned ways
Let's come together in His grace
Lord help us all to understand
How you can use a hard rock band

incognito said...

Let me make a distinction here. The 'sound' as I see it has nothing to do with what the words actually say. Yes, good words are good - I'm not questioning that. I'm simply questioning the effect the 'sound' of the music has on us.

I was talking with Jimmy about this last night. Can't remember too clearly, but I think people are affected differently by the same music. To one person, it may have a negative influence, to another, a positive influence.

But he pondered a good question - if you listened to a particular CD for a week, what affect do you think it would have on you? And if it's bad, I said, why would a little bit of it make it good? Why would you listen to it at all?

Another point I think I mentioned was that the way we feel after listening to music may not be a good indication of how it's really influencing us. To draw an analogy, hanging out with you group of drug-taking friends might make you feel happier, more energetic, and affirmed at that time - but it might not be good for you.

Let me draw you another analogy - it's a bit clear-cut so you can see my point. Listening to music with lots of swearing in it tends to have a bad influence on us - I think most of us would agree, but if you don't just go with on this. Swearing, you could say, adds emphasis and energy and life to what the person's saying. Then, you could argue that listening to someone saying things like "God is ****ing great! And I don't give a **** what others say." is actually good for you because it contains a 'good message'.

I would say yes, it might have a good message, but the means its using to communicate that message is actually harmful in and of itself to me. I think it's better to not listen to anything at all than subject yourself to something bad for the sake of some good in it. Better yet, listen to something that doesn't have any bad affets.

That is the question I am trying to ask about hardcore music. I'm not suggesting there aren't good elements in the lyrics of Christian songs, but are there elements of the music that have a bad affect on us as well? And if so, is it really beneficial to be influenced negatively in one aspect just so we can be influenced positively in another?

For me, I think the words can be really good, but I know the 'sound' of the music has a bad influence on me. And I wonder if it might have a bad influence on others too - even if they enjoy it.

Nathan said...

I'd like to voice my disagreement with this paragraph written by Chad:

"So certain sounds produce certain feelings/emotions you would argue. But I ask you what emotions are inherently evil? There are some but do you know of music that can invoke them with out words? Anger is not inherently evil/wrong it's how we decided to deal with it or use it that determines what is evil/wrong."

Ok, so being angry is not a sin, however, being quick to anger is looked down apon, and we are told to "be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of man", and further more we are not to "let the sun go down on our anger".

I really disagree with the implication from what you said here that theres nothing wrong with listening to something that causes us to be more angry. We have a responsibility to monitor our emotions and cognitions, to be sober-minded, walking circumspectly with regard to those who are outside.

So, when we listen to music, we have to make sure that its not influencing our feelings negativily by making us unnecessarily angry (or even just a little bit tense).

Matt said...

Reuben, you said "I can't see Jesus screaming behind a microphone, creating a wall of noise" (or words to that effect)... so what about being "a Jew to the Jews, a Gentile to the Gentiles"? How are all the metal fans ever going to meet Jesus unless some Christians are metal fans? How are all the metal musicians ever going to meet Jesus unless some Christians are metal musicians?

I understand what you're saying, but maybe we have to make some sacrifices for Jesus' sake. Setting your own conscience up as more important than Jesus' gospel is a big call.

incognito said...

Good point Matt. I think you are correct that we should not let 'trying to be as Godly as possible' get in the way of telling the Gospel to people. But, at the same time, we don't want to ignore being Godly - otherwise they might think us mere hypocrites and not listen.

I guess it all comes down to using Godly wisdom/discernment in how we live. The trick is to make sure we don't let our personal preferences get in the way of Godly wisdom/discernment - but I'm sure we all know that's easier said than done.

PaulieB said...

Wow, I wonder what would have happened if you'd unleashed the full attack...