Friend Tim Chesterton encouraged me the last time I posted all these apologetics to do one on the music I love...rock and roll. Though I think he was specifically referring to the really controversial stuff I listen to.
I love the music that is supposedly responsible for Columbine. I like industrial music. I started listening to it back in the late 80's when my good friend Chris was dating a girl who listened to Skinny Puppy. I can remember cruising around Medicine Hat listening to "Assimilate" over and over again. I loved the blend of heavy, crushing rhythms and discordant noise alongside ofttimes soaring, orchestral melodic elements. One of the first songs I ever wrote was an industrial piece called "Modern Day Pharisee". When my first band Athan Asia was recording our first project, I took time to work on some solo work, all of which was inspired by industrial music. I'm confident that if I was left alone in a studio for a week with a full complement of instruments to work with, I'd either churn out an industrial project.
I don't like all industrial music. Some of it is too cacophonic for me. I've enjoyed Pil, Nine Inch Nails, MDFMK, and Laibach, but my favorite would be Rammstein, one of the bands that got saddled with the blame for the Columbine shootings. I think my writing on Roleplaying says everything about how I feel when pop culture becomes the scapegoat for tragedy. I've listened to industrial music since I was a teenager, and never committed an act of aggressive violence.
It's just another form of music. Most of the music I enjoy isn't the sort of thing good Christians are supposed to listen to. One of my mentors listens to predominantly folk and blues, and none of it is "Christian", that is to say, none of it gets sold at Blessings Christian Marketplace. Hardly any of the music I am deeply passionate about gets sold there either, but because the musicians who perform it are scary looking and their lyrics more nihilistic, reflections upon death and darkness, it's not kosher for me to listen to.
I know that music affects the mood. But what if my mood is lifted when I listen to music that makes other people feel "darkened" or depressed? My reaction to Rammstein's "Sonne" is one of worship and reverence. I know the band never intended their music to lift my gaze to heaven, but that is what happens when I listen to it.
An isolated incident, some might say. But I would disagree. The title of Eugene Peterson's "Christ plays in a thousand places" sums up my feeling on it. Nine Inch Nails "The Fragile" gets me (to quote Trent) "closer to God" than the new Third Day album does. I find the words more prophetic, and sometimes personally apocalyptic in a fashion that focuses me on the sublime, transcendent aspects of who God is.
Trent Reznor's latest album, "With Teeth" features a song which lyically reflects how I approach faith. In "The Hand that Feeds", Trent sings, " What if this whole crusade's A charade And behind it all there's a price to be paid For the blood On which we dine Justified in the name of the holy and the divine...Just how deep do you believe? Will you bite the hand that feeds?" To some, this would be an indictment of Christianity. For me, it's how I've walked the path of faith--asking hard questions, always wondering at the meaning behind the actions we take. I believe that Jesus did that very thing when he challenged the religious leaders of his day - he was biting the hand that feeds as it were. Challenging the status quo.
Good Christian music is status quo. Christian record companies produce music and lyrics that rarely bite the hand that feeds. There have been a handful of iconoclasts across the history of Christian popular music, but by and large the genre is bred to maintain American evangelical values. When 9/11 happened, the issue of "Worship Discovery" (a bi-monthly worship CD compilation one can subscribe to) had worship songs of a strong patriotic nature.
I like Rammstein's "Amerika" better. It asks more questions. Bites at the hand that feeds.