Virtually There

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Second Blog Ever In My Life! CCM or Charity?

One of the sites I hang out at is a site called, “Arts and Faith.” I didn’t know this, but for the longest time, Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) has been the subject of many a discussions on this site and from what I understand, has been beat senseless.

Of late, one of the ladies, Kate Bowman of Grand Rapids Michigan, wrote for evangelical flagship magazine, “Christianity Today.” In the 07/11/05 issue entitled, "Secular, Sacred, or Both?" Ms. Bowman, more or less bemoans the sacred/secular dichotomy found in CCM, not to mention the shallowness of that which IS confessional in this industry.

At A&F I wrote a small reply to her article that you can read here.
However, I would like to say some more about this as I don’t feel I finished saying everything I wanted at A&F. Part of the reason for continuing it here is that I felt that the thread had basically ended and I didn’t like the idea of opening it up again, with the possibility of resurrecting ill feelings.

When I think of it, I don’t believe that the problem with CCM is the sacred/secular divide. Nor do I think it is the mediocrity. Those things have been with us for a long time. Whether in the world or in the Church, there have always been “high brow” and “low brow” art. As a matter of fact, some scholars point to THIS DIVIDE as being a false dichotomy as they say that “high” and “low” is due more so to WHO is doing these things i.e. “high” is high because the aristocrats and the wealthy could afford to do them.

Whatever one says, IMHO, the issue REALLY is NOT CCM per se, nor any aspect of popular culture for that matter. The issue, it seems to me, is one of an exercise in charity. You see, when I read or hear complaints about “low brow” popular religion, culture or art, the person “being critical” is not free of looking through rose colored glasses. Why? Because when we oppose popular religion, culture or art, we do so almost out of an UNCRITICAL COMMITMENT to “high” religion, culture or art as if **IT** is not in need of Christian transformation. Yes, sin has infected CCM and popular religion, culture and art, but it would be short-sighted to see THAT sinful distortion as only in “low brow” and not in “high brow” arenas.

A “hermeneutic of charity” (as opposed to a “hermeneutic of suspicion,” which ALSO is important because it guides us into taking a CAREFUL look at things we might otherwise blindly accept), will guide me into recognizing God at work in his Creation. In the link above, I mentioned Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw. In the book, “Consulting The Faithful: What Christian Intellectuals Can Learn From Popular Religion” Mouw speaks of a Thai farmer’s questions and answers about God and nature as expanding our own understanding of how divine revelation speaks to the human condition. It is not merely a question of “reaching out” to these people but it is also a way of gathering new theological insights or as a former pastor of mine use to say, “nuggets” about God.

Question. Steeped in popular religion, culture and art, do we recognize the deep longings, desires and interests of ordinary Christians? Or do we primarily see these as something to be corrected?


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