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Source: (consider it) Thread: Fuck off, popular Christian music
stonespring
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
[QUOTE]
The RCC remains the world's largest denomination, and is certainly not a hotbed of musical 'bilge', AFAIK.

Here in the US, most RCC parishes use mostly contemporary hymns for their music (although usually with piano/organ/acoustic guitar accompaniment rather than a band). Some contemporary hymns used in the RCC are very theologically insightful and musically interesting but a lot are rather insipid, in my opinion. I think they were revolutionary after Vatican II and that may have helped some people with negative conceptions of the church from their childhoods growing up pre-Vatican II but for people who grew up after Vatican II or who grew up outside the RCC I think these contemporary hymns sound like dated 1960s folk tunes with lyrics that sometimes seem like they are from children's television shows (again - in my opinion).
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Jolly Jape
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quote:
Originally posted by Gill H:
quote:
Originally posted by Seedsower:
I agree there is wayyyyy too much triumphalism in today's Christian pop. Here's a thought: I d I thinkon't know if this has been done but why don't a group of talented Christians get together and put on "Job The Musical" I am not being facetious I think it could, if done right kick something new off in Christianity. Just a thought.

Michael Card sort of did it (and if you want non-triumphal music with lyrical depth he's a good option). I can't remember which album it was on but he did a kind of Job mini-opera.


Job Suite, on "The Way Of Wisdom". Part of his "The Ancient Faith" trilogy. Absolutely superb!

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
Here in the US, most RCC parishes use mostly contemporary hymns for their music (although usually with piano/organ/acoustic guitar accompaniment rather than a band).

I've visited far too many where a CD is popped on. I wish I would not judge, but I think I'd prefer a capella.

edit: I recall Michael Card's Revelation songs with fondness.

[ 19. May 2017, 08:02: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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Gamaliel
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The point I'm making, SvitlanaV2 is that with the older, more traditional 'seasonal' approach the idea was that you picked up on the overall 'trajectory' of the Christian story - Advent to Christmas to Candlemas to Lent to Easter to the Ascension to Pentecost to ...

Whereas what we're getting in the charismatic-influenced scene is a 'flattening' of things down to either raw emotion or ersatz-emotion ... and I would regard Pentecostalism worldwide to fall more into the former category rather than the latter ...

In the USA and the UK and other Western countries I think it's more likely to be prone to fall into the ersatz category ... but hey, I'm using very broad-brush terms here and I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions to any rule ...

I'm not for a moment suggesting that everything has to be done to a 'cathedral' standard or be some kind of BBC Radio 3-ish Choral Evensong ... some of that can be pretty indigestible ...

No, rather I'm tilting at the highly commercialised world of CCM and the highly commercialised 'worship music' scene which started out raw and authentic - in my view - and which has been hijacked by the marketing and the money men ...

Of course, back in the day, there were wealthy patrons and so on - otherwise no Monteverdi, no J S Bach ...

So no, I'm not suggesting there was ever a pure, untainted and golden age ... far from it.

But let's face it, there is something that has gone 'wrong' on the CCM scene and, I would argue, on the contemporary worship-music scene too. Sure, there'll be sociological and demographic, economic and lots of other reasons and factors involved ...

But it strikes me that there's something seriously amiss at the heart of it these days. Seriously amiss.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I'm tilting at the highly commercialised world of CCM and the highly commercialised 'worship music' scene which started out raw and authentic - in my view - and which has been hijacked by the marketing and the money men ...

While I don't disagree, couldn't you say that much the same thing was happening a century ago with publishers such as Novello and composers such as Stanford churning out stuff for the religious market? Hasn't there always been a desire for "novelty", not least from organists/choir leaders/worship groups who want to get their teeth into something "new"? And hasn't there been, for a long time, a market for "Christian leisure music", either to play on the piano or listen to on disc/CD?
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Stetson
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Stonespring wrote:

quote:
for people who grew up after Vatican II or who grew up outside the RCC I think these contemporary hymns sound like dated 1960s folk tunes with lyrics that sometimes seem like they are from children's television shows (again - in my opinion).
Yes, agreed. And you can believe me, I was there.

The best stuff from the "folk mass" era was more "primitive"(for lack of a better) than "folky".

They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

This always seemed to evoke pre-Constantine days when Christians were an underground minority, as opposed to "They Will Know We Are Christians Because We're Running The Empire Now And Have Killed Off Everyone Else."

[ 19. May 2017, 18:05: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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Gamaliel
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Of course, Baptist Trainfan, and as I've said, no rich donors no Monteverdi or Bach ...

And there was a fair bit of money sloshing around with Moody and Sankey.

I'm not saying it's new ...

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angelfish
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I reckon there's about as much drivel around in the contemporary Christian music scene now as there has ever been. How many hymns did Charles Wesley write? (between 6,000 and 9,000 depending on your source) - and how many do we still sing today? He wrote some great ones, but some were not, and they have thankfully faded into the mists of time.

Music and songs from the past that we still find value in are the best of their era. This then leads to a misconception that it's only modern music that is lacking in depth, maturity, clarity, musicality and what have you. Come back in 50 or 100 years' time and see which of the Kendrick/Redman/Fellingham/Townsend/Keyes/Baloche things people are singing and you might think 2017 was a great year, but it will simply be because only the best has survived.

Funnily enough, I was at a service of worship led by Graham Kendrick the day after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. He chose the song "O Lord, the clouds are gathering" (which he wrote in 1987 around the same time as the then ubiquitous "Shine Jesus Shine") and it perfectly summed up the prayers of everyone there, reminding us of the need for mercy, righteousness and love to conquer the "dark powers... poised to flood our streets with hate and fear". It's striking that the song about how much the world needs the light of Christ is the one that still feels relevant 20 years later, whereas the shiny-happy-clappy one has sort of had its day.

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angelfish
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OOh, naughty doublepost.

Lamb Chopped, your OP reminded me of a song by Godfrey Birtill (sort of Ishmael for adults). He writes a lot of very simple songs. There's one called "We have waited, but He's not come" As far as I recall, this is the only line in the chorus apart from the last line, "There must be something wrong". Sums up how I feel most of the time.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:
I reckon there's about as much drivel around in the contemporary Christian music scene now as there has ever been. How many hymns did Charles Wesley write? (between 6,000 and 9,000 depending on your source) - and how many do we still sing today? He wrote some great ones, but some were not, and they have thankfully faded into the mists of time.

Music and songs from the past that we still find value in are the best of their era. This then leads to a misconception that it's only modern music that is lacking in depth, maturity, clarity, musicality and what have you. Come back in 50 or 100 years' time and see which of the Kendrick/Redman/Fellingham/Townsend/Keyes/Baloche things people are singing and you might think 2017 was a great year, but it will simply be because only the best has survived.

Good point.


quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:

Lamb Chopped, your OP reminded me of a song by Godfrey Birtill (sort of Ishmael for adults). He writes a lot of very simple songs. There's one called "We have waited, but He's not come" As far as I recall, this is the only line in the chorus apart from the last line, "There must be something wrong". Sums up how I feel most of the time.

oooh, that sounds poignant. Gonna have to look it up.

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Gamaliel
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Sure, I'm not saying there was ever a golden age of Christian music.

I remember hearing an Orthodox priest observe how he'd collected a shed load of Orthodox hymnody from times past and a range of countries with a view to providing modern English translations. He soon gave up the project as the bulk of the material consisted of poor puns on the name of various Saints.

Of course, at its best, Orthodox hymnody can be capable of mind-blowing poetry ... But there's duff stuff there too ...

But as I keep saying, this thread isn't about praise and worship music, your Kendricks and your Townsend's and the RC equivalents - it's supposed to be about CCM - Christian rock and pop and all that malarkey.

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angelfish
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
But as I keep saying, this thread isn't about praise and worship music, your Kendricks and your Townsend's and the RC equivalents - it's supposed to be about CCM - Christian rock and pop and all that malarkey.

There's a big crossover between what's played on Christian radio and what's sung by congregations who like contemporary songs.

"It's popular because it's bland", is basically what this discussion boils down to but that's not peculiar to Christian music. The same complaint is made by Radio 3 (highbrow classical) listeners of Classic fm (populist Classical music used in films and adverts etc).

Just thought I'd point out that there are some good things available. We've also discussed on this thread songs used in a church setting, and it is perfectly possible to find meaningful congregational songs written in the last 20 years covering all the main events of the Christian calendar and many different human experiences/emotions.

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Gamaliel
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I get that, angelfish but the whole contemporary Christian music scene seems quite dislocated from the Calendar to me ...

I chair a local arts group and yes, last night I submitted to be more vile to host a very light performance by the town's community choir to raise funds for the more high-brow stuff we put on.

So, yes, there's room for both but bollocks are bollocks, however much we dress them up.

That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the concert but listening to choral arrangements of Coldplay and 'The Rhythm of Life' (yet again) isn't my idea of a fun night out. But it did raise some necessary funds.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
But as I keep saying, this thread isn't about praise and worship music, your Kendricks and your Townsend's and the RC equivalents - it's supposed to be about CCM - Christian rock and pop and all that malarkey.

There's a big crossover between what's played on Christian radio and what's sung by congregations who like contemporary songs.
Not so much on this side of the pond-- they're really quite different. That may be because it seems we have a lot more Christian-only radio stations playing CCM so there's more market.

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angelfish
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I get that, angelfish but the whole contemporary Christian music scene seems quite dislocated from the Calendar to me ...

But is that really a problem? If that were the only Christian input in a person's life I think you'd have reason for concern, but presumably the CCM radio listening people are also attending churches somewhere, where there is hopefully a sense of the calendar and a more varied spiritual diet. I very much doubt those radio stations are tuned into by non-church people, so they are providing only part of a much larger musical/theological input into the lives of their listeners.

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Gamaliel
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I think it is a cause of concern, angelfish. I don't doubt that the people who listen to Christian radio stations are receiving input from churches and belong to house-groups and fellowship groups and so on ...

Some of these people give very generously to support Christian radio stations, which are largely financed by donations and advertising, of course.

But what I am concerned about more generally is a kind of 'flattening' of Christian input of all kinds - both on radio stations like this and across the church scene more generally - to the extent that contemporary Christianity is becoming a kind of feel-good factor form of self-help therapy ...

Of course - big-word alert - I think there is a place for the theandric and thaumaturgical (I got those from a sociological text on religion ... [Biased] ) but for quite some time now I've been disturbed and concerned by the trajectory of much contemporary evangelicalism and charismatic spirituality.

I'm not singling those out for censure above more liberal or MoTR forms of Christianity, but that's the side of things I've known best ... and I'm concerned about what I see.

On a personal note, my wife has incurable cancer.

As we left an evangelical service yesterday, someone - in a very well-meaning but naive way - asked whether she was 'getting better.'

I explained to him, very politely, that whilst we are grateful that the treatment is currently holding things in check, my wife isn't going to get better. The cancer isn't going to go away.

Now, I can envisage some even quite mainstream evangelical / charismatic settings where this wouldn't 'compute' - where they wouldn't accept this and be all keen to lay on hands and so on ...

In such instances I'm afraid I would echo the words of the title of the OP and tell them where to go in no uncertain terms.

I'm happy for people to pray. I'm happy for people to show concern. But if anyone came up with some kind of glib solution or told us to pray harder, believe harder, do this, that or the other - then I am afraid they would get very short shrift.

Don't get me wrong, if people want to listen to pop-pap CCM or dumbed-down 'ooh-ooh Jesus, Jesus, Jesus' type worship songs and choruses then that's up to them.

Just don't expect me to do it.

And yes, of course there're contemporary worship songs and probably CCM that doesn't conform to that stereotype - and jolly good show for that.

But overall, I'm afraid that with some notable exceptions the popular evangelical charismatic world has sold-out and succumbed to the blandishments of the marketing and the money men - as well as securing itself too firmly to the zeit-geist.

And you know what happens to those who are wedded to the spirit of the age. They are widowed to it in the next.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:
But is that really a problem? If that were the only Christian input in a person's life I think you'd have reason for concern, but presumably the CCM radio listening people are also attending churches somewhere, where there is hopefully a sense of the calendar and a more varied spiritual diet.

I think the evidence that this is so is mixed to say the least. I think the wider point (not sure if this was the one that Gamaliel was making) is that the attitudes behind CCM are symptomatic of much of modern evangelicalism generally, and serve as a proxy to diagnose the intellectual heft of the movement at the popular end.

Of which a tin-eared response to someone in a situation which 'does not compute' is one side effect.

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angelfish
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Gamaliel - yes I see where you're coming from.

Chris Stiles - how much "intellectual heft" is there at the popular end of anything? Surely almost by definition there is always going to be a big crowd of people ("the masses") with less mental acuity than the intellectual elite who, according to popular belief, should be the leaders. Perhaps if those intellectuals, with the ability to grasp complex and weighty matters, did a better job of connecting with ordinary folk, the masses wouldn't feel the need to suck on CCM for the comfort and understanding they are presumably seeking.

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Gamaliel
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I think those are fair enough points, angelfish, so far as they go ...

I'm not sure that it's all about 'intellectual heft' though ...

It's as much about 'nous' and what I've heard described as 'sanctified common-sense' as it is about having a considered theological framework.

The two things should go together, of course.

I hate to trot out a cliche, but I've heard academic sociologists and folk from more cerebral or sacramental/liturgical backgrounds who've studied revivalist forms of religion observe that they've often come across a lot more 'nous' and common-sense among working-class Pentecostals than they have among middle-class charismatics ...

So I think that plays into it too.

I suppose I've interjected before Chris Stiles has had opportunity to answer but that's my take, FWIW ...

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:

Chris Stiles - how much "intellectual heft" is there at the popular end of anything? Surely almost by definition there is always going to be a big crowd of people ("the masses") with less mental acuity than the intellectual elite who, according to popular belief, should be the leaders.

As Gamaliel says in his previous post, perhaps 'intellectual heft' is not the best descriptor. I was meaning to signify the way in which Christianity is actually practised at the level of the ordinary congregant.

If you want to state that there are other problems with evangelicalism than CCM then I'd agree with you, but CCM is what we are discussing in this thread, and I'm not sure it helps.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
What I am concerned about more generally is a kind of 'flattening' of Christian input of all kinds - both on radio stations like this and across the church scene more generally - to the extent that contemporary Christianity is becoming a kind of feel-good factor form of self-help therapy ...

Of course - big-word alert - I think there is a place for the theandric and thaumaturgical (I got those from a sociological text on religion ... [Biased] ) but for quite some time now I've been disturbed and concerned by the trajectory of much contemporary evangelicalism and charismatic spirituality.

I'm not singling those out for censure above more liberal or MoTR forms of Christianity, but that's the side of things I've known best ... and I'm concerned about what I see.

Well, to be fair, you are mostly singling those out for censure. You mention the others as an afterthought. But you speak of what you know, as you say, so that's understandable.

There also seems to be an anxiety that evangelicalism is what matters, so if its musical or liturgical habits are poor, that seems to colour the whole religion. On the British scene, the others matter less because they've shrunk so much. A polite sorrow may be expressed at their plight, but who really cares about what MOTR Methodists, URC or even Anglicans do when there are so few of them and likely to be almost none in the next 20 years? Who has any advice to offer them? Who wants to add to their unease with serious censure?

Evangelicals are due to dominate all British denominations by 2020. (I think it'll take a little longer). But overall, it sounds as if British Christianity will be so fragile that what music evangelicals (along with the other lonely stragglers) listen to will hardly matter. In fact, how will there even be a 'popular Christian' market to exploit when the demand is so low? Maybe it'll all be American stuff, but I don't think there'll be much money for the Americans to make here.

In terms of 'traditional' church liturgies and music, perhaps in future these will be promoted as therapeutic, or as examples of a beautiful cultural heritage, rather than as expressions of religious faith as such.

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cliffdweller
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Gamaliel--

No trite answers, but I do and will pray. [Votive]

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Gamaliel
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Thanks folks - I only share the personal information because I think it's pertinent to this thread ... the OP started with a rant about CCM based on its alleged triteness and incapacity to deal with the heavy stuff ...

But thanks for your prayers and concern. My wife wouldn't thank me for saying this, but she is being exceptionally brave.

We're doing ok at the moment as the treatment is holding things in check but obviously the time will come when it no longer does so.

At that point I'm sure we'll find solace in music - among other things - but not CCM ...

[Biased]

Meanwhile - takes deep breath - yes, SvitlanaV2 I was reserving my fire and my ire for CCM and the evo-charismatic constituency but as I've said, that's only because it's where I've come from and the 'sector' I know best ...

I'm not actually aware that there is ANY CCM (as opposed to hymnody) from the MoTR and liberal sectors ...

If there was then I'd give that some kind of critique too ...

As I've said several times, this isn't a thread about hymns and worship songs but about CCM - and yes, I know that the two are linked in some quarters but I still think there's a distinction to be made.

As it happens, I do care what happens to MoTR Methodist, URC and Anglican congregations. I'm not indifferent to their plight.

I suppose my attitude towards evangelicalism these days is that we certainly 'need' it - but I worry about certain dumbed-down trends and emphasises.

At one time I would have suggested that people on the way out from evangelicalism might tend to settle in more MoTR or liberal settings. I don't think this is happening so much these days. I think what happens now is that ex-evangelicals tend to fall out altogether ... partly because they've been told that those nasty liberal and MoTR churches down the road aren't the real deal and partly because of the kind of 'needs' they've had met to a certain extent in evangelical circles.

They've had the whoopy-doopy happy-clappy roller-coaster thing ... and can't see how MoTR or liberal or more liturgical churches can somehow fulfil that or fill that void.

I am struggling to express what I mean here ...

I don't mean it to be dismissive.

But in some ways I'd suggest that there's a 'hit' that is delivered in both charismatic / Pentecostal or more definite 'we've got the truth' types of churches that is always going to missing across the alternatives. I'd suggest that the RCs and the Orthodox also deliver that kind of 'hit' too - albeit in a different kind of way.

I s'pose what I'm saying is that with the older traditions (and I'd include older forms of Reformed or evangelical settings in that too) there is sufficient ballast and other areas to explore once the 'hit' wears off ...

But with some evangelical and charismatic outfits there ain't actually a great deal 'there' once the initial 'hit' begins to wear off ...

I don't have an issue with people being evangelical - and yes, RCs and other more sacramentally inclined Christians can be 'evangelical' too, in a different kind of way ...

What I have an issue with is if there is no broader hinterland or frame of reference from which people can draw once the initial excitement has worn off.

Funnily enough, I read a fairly scholarly article recently about attraction - why people are physically attracted to one another and the 'purpose' that serves. Some scientists believe that the zingy attractive element is there temporarily to tie human beings over until such time as other aspects of the relationship take more centre stage - the caring aspect, the companionship ...

In a similar kind of way, I'd suggest that the more zingy and emotional kind of connections made through worship music - or CCM - or whatever else it is that gives people a buzz about churches or about the faith can keep people going until such time as they develop habits that sustain them ... be it activism, be it contemplation, be it whatever else ...

But if all you had was the zingy and the zappy, then that wouldn't take you very far.

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SvitlanaV2
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So, let's see. Charismatic evangelicalism provides a 'hit'. It's sugary nonsense, but it makes everything else seem boring.

IMO it's a victim of its own success - or of the failure of everything else. Being (almost) the only game in town charismatic evangelicalism attracts anyone with any kind of energy to give to the religion. This leads to a drop in standards, including musical and liturgical standards, because its members aren't bothered about these things. If the liturgical standards were raised they would leave, and since the secular culture provides very few others to take their place, the 'improved' churches would shrink.

Of course, these churches are destined to shrink anyway. As I say, I should think the demand for CCM is going to shrink along with them, so the problem may resolve itself. On the plus side, if you believe in a cyclical view of church history there may well be a return to more liturgical evangelicalism. I'd be interested to know if that's what you think.

Meanwhile, although you care what happens to the MOTR, they offer nothing that anyone actually wants, so 'caring' about their plight seems rather meaningless. 'Regretting' would be a better word.

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Gamaliel
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Either I'm not explaining myself very well or you're misunderstanding me.

No, I don't think that charismatic evangelicalism - at its best - is 'sugary nonsense'. At its core I think it's got something very, very real.

The reason I'm so concerned about it is that I don't want to see it exchange what is good, wholesome and real for a mess of sugary pottage.

I think there is a danger of that. Hence my concern.

And yes, I agree that charismatic evangelicalism is a victim of its own success. I remember seeing a sociologist from Lancaster University - who has done some interesting work on religious observance in Kendal and other towns in the North West - make a telling observation on a BBC documentary about the possible future of Christianity in the UK.

The point she made was this: 'The evangelicals have somehow convinced everybody that to be a Christian you have to be an extrovert and do uncomfortable things such as dancing around and speaking in tongues ... So anyone who isn't prepared to do any of that is immediately going to be put off by it ...'

Or words to that effect.

That's what bothers me.

The 'hinterland' is shrinking to the extent that it's seen that charismatic evangelicalism is almost the only game in town.

However ... what I do anticipate is that some charismatic evangelicals - particularly those of a more 'emergent' bent - will morph in the same way as the early Quakers did - towards a more quietist form of faith - but one allied with social action and wider concerns.

Whether they can do that whilst retaining some kind of evangelistic fervour remains to be seen - but I fully expect some charismatic outfits to become less obviously charismatic over the next few decades - that's already started happening and is a process that has been going on for some time.

No, I don't see a return to a more liturgical evangelicalism. Some of the alt-worship stuff about 20 years ago now looked like it was heading that way, and possibly some of the trendy 'curated' worship still is ... but I don't think it's quite got critical mass. Excuse the unintentional pun.

I don't see more sacramental or liturgical forms of Christianity disappearing despite the decline. I suspect that the RCs and the Orthodox have some more 'go' in them, even though it might be curtains for some Anglo-Catholic parishes and although some Orthodox 'convert parishes' will fizzle out for lack of successors to take them on.

The biggest decline I foresee will be with MoTR churches like the Methodists and URCs which arguably don't offer by way of fire and fervour on the one hand nor a sense of mystery and the numinous either.

I have no idea whether there's much future for CCM. It's governed by the market-place and whilst there's market demand then it'll continue - although I can't see many places here in the UK having the resources to fund Christian radio stations and so on ...

You might be right that 'regretting' might be a more appropriate word than 'caring' - but you don't know what's inside my head so are in no position to determine whether I 'care' or not.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:


No, I don't think that charismatic evangelicalism - at its best - is 'sugary nonsense'. At its core I think it's got something very, very real.

The reason I'm so concerned about it is that I don't want to see it exchange what is good, wholesome and real for a mess of sugary pottage.

It's not clear to me what you think it has that's 'very real'. Can something that slips so easily into the widespread (as you've eagerly described it above) production and acceptance of 'bilge' not have something very foundationally wrong about it?

quote:

'The evangelicals have somehow convinced everybody that to be a Christian you have to be an extrovert and do uncomfortable things such as dancing around and speaking in tongues ... So anyone who isn't prepared to do any of that is immediately going to be put off by it ...'

Or words to that effect.

That's what bothers me.

IMO the reason it's been able to convince everyone of this is precisely because of the mistakes and weakness of the Christian alternatives. The ordinary person doesn't see or hear from the weak and hesitant alternatives, which is why the evangelicals are able to make all kinds of claims and get a hearing. And why wouldn't they promote the superior virtues of their own version of Christianity? If they didn't so do, they too would be more or less irrelevant by now.

This is why I feel that the constant emphasis (not just from you but from many quarters) on the errors of evangelicalism without any serious appraisal of the failures elsewhere is doomed to failure.

Yes, I know that's not what this thread is about, so you don't need to remind me again. I'm clearly making a tangential point, which is that nature abhors a vacuum. Evangelicalism has filled the void. And because it has so little competition its impetus to remain strict and doctrinal, if you like, is inevitably going to weaken, which includes a decline in musical and liturgical standards. (However, I imagine that some groups would never have met your standards, even at the beginning of their existence.)

quote:


What I do anticipate is that some charismatic evangelicals - particularly those of a more 'emergent' bent - will morph in the same way as the early Quakers did - towards a more quietist form of faith - but one allied with social action and wider concerns.

Whether they can do that whilst retaining some kind of evangelistic fervour remains to be seen - but I fully expect some charismatic outfits to become less obviously charismatic over the next few decades - that's already started happening and is a process that has been going on for some time.


I think history suggests that many of them will lose their fervour. Fervour implies that they have something distinctive and feel compelled to share it with the world. But if you think some of them will take on the atmosphere of the Quakers, or that they should model themselves on more traditional religious forms then they're probably going to develop the same kinds of attitudes as those groups too. Those attitudes don't involve fervour.


quote:

I don't see more sacramental or liturgical forms of Christianity disappearing despite the decline. I suspect that the RCs and the Orthodox have some more 'go' in them.

So since the RCC and the OC already have that foundation, the future of musical and liturgical excellence lies with them, not with the charismatic evangelicals. Moreover, there are now more churchgoing RCs in Britain than Anglicans, so it could be argued that the bad musical habits of evangelical Anglicans in particular are more or less irrelevant in terms of the overall Christian presence.

It would also be interesting to explore the impact of ethnic and cultural diversity on the questionable music and liturgies within British churches. The largest evangelical churches are highly likely to be multicultural, and presumably they have some influence on the temperature and depth of the smaller evangelical churches around the country that look up to them.

quote:


You might be right that 'regretting' might be a more appropriate word than 'caring' - but you don't know what's inside my head so are in no position to determine whether I 'care' or not.

I suppose that for me, 'caring' represents some sort of action or engagement, not merely good thoughts inside someone's head. But I accept that you wish the MOTR churches well.
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Gamaliel
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Look, I'm not suggesting that everyone should have high artistic standards of presentation - that everyone should aspire to have a flawless rendition of Allegri's Miserere at their services or anything of that kind.

Far from it.

I'm simply highlighting what I see as a lugubrious trend in CCM and in contemporary worship styles and content.

I'm not alone in that.

As for the failings of the liberal and MoTR churches, well yes, I can list those if you really want me to, but that's not what this thread is about.

Sure, I know you get hacked off when people have a go at contemporary evangelicalism without balancing it out with a barbed attack on MoTR or liberal churches.

I can do that if you like.

That doesn't alter my views that there is an imbalance and malaise across much of the evangelical scene.

Of course, there are redeeming features - quite literally - as at least evangelicals believe the Gospel.

Believing and acting on the Gospel isn't dependent on high musical or liturgical standards - I'm not suggesting anything of the kind.

What I am suggesting is that some of the very real gains and strengths of evangelical and charismatic forms of Christianity can be eroded from within by unbalanced emphases - and that much CCM reflects that imbalance.

That's all.

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la vie en rouge
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FWIW, CCM isn’t only produced by evangelicals. It exists in (charismatic) Catholic circles too, and IME is even more musically vapid than the evangelical kind.

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Gamaliel
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Sure, I fully accept that, la vie en rouge.

I've not heard any RC CCM but I can imagine it's not the sort of thing I'd want to listen to either.

My point to SvitlanaV2 wasn't that RCs aren't producing this stuff, but that MoTR and liberal Protestants aren't ...

Hence the lack of 'stick' that MoTR and liberal Protestants are getting on this thread.

If there was a thread about how daft MoTR or liberal Protestants are then the comments would reflect that.

I sometimes wish SvitlanaV2 could start a 'MoTR and liberal Protestant churches suck' thread with a caveat that nobody is allowed to post anything about about evangelicals or charismatics by way of balancing things out ...

That way she may end up with the sort of thread she wants to read.

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SvitlanaV2
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I have occasionally started threads on the subject. But they have very little traction! 'Evangelical unrest' is where it's at.

Evangelicalism and its critics exist in a sort of symbiotic relationship that doesn't really have an equivalent elsewhere (not even among the RCC and lapsed Catholics, IMO). So the problems of bad music, bad theology or whatever else bad just generate more heat if they occur in a charismatic evangelical setting. So it seems.

As I say, evangelicalism is now what matters. But I might start a new thread.

[ 23. May 2017, 09:26: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Gamaliel
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Fair enough.

I'm not sure that post or ex-evangelicals are any more strident than ex-RCs ...

But I think you're right that they are more prominent on these Boards and as I'm among the post-evangelical 'unresters', I can't deny it ...

I suspect that unrestful MoTR-ers or unrestful liberals are simply more MoTR or liberal in the way they express their unrest ... ie they tend not to do it on Boards like this ...

Some unrestful RCs end up as strident evangelicals, of course - and there are a number of them on these Boards. Naming no names ... but one of the most fervent / strident conservative evangelicals here is an ex-RC.

I'd be interested if you did start a thread on the perils, weaknesses and numptiness of MoTR or liberal churches - but I'm not sure what I could contribute to it as although I have lots of friends from that end of the spectrum and do attend services in such churches occasionally, I've not been that involved with that side of things ...

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:

Evangelicalism and its critics exist in a sort of symbiotic relationship that doesn't really have an equivalent elsewhere (not even among the RCC and lapsed Catholics, IMO).

These exist - just in different places - there are large numbers of forums, blogs and magazines where disgruntled RCC hit out at movements within the RCC.
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Evangelicals are due to dominate all British denominations by 2020. (I think it'll take a little longer). r than as expressions of religious faith as such.

The lunatics are taking over the assylum.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Evangelicals are due to dominate all British denominations by 2020. (I think it'll take a little longer). r than as expressions of religious faith as such.

Hardly a shocker, is it?

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
... My point to SvitlanaV2 wasn't that RCs aren't producing this stuff, but that MoTR and liberal Protestants aren't ...

Is part of their problem that there's not enough fervour, enthusiasm, commitment etc there at the moment to generate much that's creative at all?

As far as Christian music is concerned, has there been much from that stable since Fred Kaan and Fred Pratt Green, both of whom were now writing some time ago, and produced work which with all kindness I couldn't describe as more than worthy but a bit flat, expressions of what we're supposed to think and feel rather than actually do?

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Evangelicals are due to dominate all British denominations by 2020. (I think it'll take a little longer).

Hardly a shocker, is it?
Well, that depends on your vantage point.

Liberal mainstream Christianity once saw itself as the future of British Protestantism. When I was growing up in the Methodist Church evangelicalism didn't seem very relevant or visible. Even today, it's possible to be a Methodist and have very little contact with charismatic evangelicalism.

And it's still possible to be a Methodist and have almost no contact whatever with bad 'popular Christian music' - although some of the 'worthy' hymns of the 70s-80s (see Enoch's) post were still being sung early this century. I don't know if they've been transferred to the new hymn book.

Evangelicalism doesn't even appear to be dominant in the CofE churches with which I'm familiar, so there's clearly an issue of geographical distribution. One of the links I posted above claims that almost all rural and inner city churches will be gone by 2040, which means that evangelical 'success' will be pretty well invisible in those areas simply because there will be so few churches overall.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I'm not actually aware that there is ANY CCM (as opposed to hymnody) from the MoTR and liberal sectors ...

I have often been intrigued by the fact that so-called "progressive" Christianity is often very conservative when it comes to music. Is that due to:

- age (most of these folk are unlikely to like Christian "pop" music);
- social class (these folk have been socialised into "good" music, i.e. classical);
- educational background (linked to above, probably: these folk don't like "simplistic" music);
- or simply a desire to distance themselves from those awful happy-clappy evsngelicals?

I appreciate that most of what I've written has more to do with hymnody than CCM - nevertheless ...

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SvitlanaV2
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I should think those are all factors.

Among Methodists I think there's also been a fairly fixed concept of what Methodism should be, based on a desire to maintain a hard-won respectable position in society. I think there's a subconscious anxiety to avoid anything that might recall the most undignified, uninformed aspects of its revivalist past.

For this reason I imagine that Methodist charismatic evangelicalism, where it exists congregationally, largely avoids the poor taste criticised on this thread. I find it hard to believe that any Methodist congregation would reject denominational liturgies, or pick large numbers of worship songs that lack proper theological content. After all, there's still a sense that Methodists 'sing the faith'.

However, to contradict my link above, I doubt that charismatic evangelicalism will come to 'dominate' British Methodism as we know it. By the time that outcome looks likely I imagine the denomination will no longer have an independent existence.

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I'm not actually aware that there is ANY CCM (as opposed to hymnody) from the MoTR and liberal sectors ...

I have often been intrigued by the fact that so-called "progressive" Christianity is often very conservative when it comes to music. Is that due to:

- age (most of these folk are unlikely to like Christian "pop" music);
- social class (these folk have been socialised into "good" music, i.e. classical);
- educational background (linked to above, probably: these folk don't like "simplistic" music);
- or simply a desire to distance themselves from those awful happy-clappy evsngelicals?

I appreciate that most of what I've written has more to do with hymnody than CCM - nevertheless ...

As someone in those circles who often feels left out socially, I think it's a mixture of all of those factors. I'm young, working-class, like pop music (both Christian and secular), and see many positives as well as negatives about evangelicals. Often I feel like I have more in common with evangelicals than my fellow Anglo-Catholics...but then being an LGBT leftist Eucharist adorer normally puts paid to that. It is less the case in Nonconformist/non-denominational progressive churches (particularly newer churches like Oasis led by Steve Chalke) and especially those in big cities, but a lot of it is pure snobbery and often open classism. Not accusing people on this thread of that - but it remains the case that I've been in churches openly welcoming me due to my sexuality, but not very friendly to people outside their social circles. Anglo-Catholicism is particularly prone to this I think.

I love traditional sacred music, but I'm not sure why it's so surprising that most young people are more drawn to music that's more like the secular music they listen to. Don't like tropical house or grime? Fine. You're not being forced to. Neither should you force people into liking the kind of worship music you like.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Gamaliel
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I don't think anyone is advocating 'forcing' anyone to be into anything, whether particular worship styles or CCM.

On the hymnody thing, interestingly, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law now attend a Methodist church, after years and years in charismatic evangelicalism.

They love it.

But the hymnody they find disappointing. I don't know the names, but it sounds like the sort of thing Enoch has mentioned, pretty bland ...

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Curiosity killed ...

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The format of services are so different for the evangelical churches from the traditional services. A song written to be part of a sequence often doesn't work as a standalone hymn within a service. But there is stuff that crosses over and a hymnody that is being written for more formal services: Stuart Townend's hymns often fit into these services, Michael Forster (lyrics using traditional tunes tying into the liturgical year), Ally Barrett, borrowing from RC hymn writers.

I'm out of touch now, but when I was attending church and running the church office we were using hymnody from living musicians, not just hymns translated from the traditional 4th century Latin.

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Gamaliel
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Sure, context is everything, CK, but again, we are supposed to be discussing CCM here not hymnody.

I might start a new thread entitled, 'Why liberal and MoTR hymnody can be just as toe-curlingly crass and as crap as some charismatic evangelical material and that's tough shit because all this stuff is driven by the marketplace and there is sod all we can do about it save dropping out of the market altogether and declaring some kind of musical Brexit so far as contemporary Christian music of all kinds is concerned ...'

Would there be any takers?

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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Curiosity killed ...

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It wouldn't work because some of those listed hymn writers are writing for free, Ally Barrett, for example, or alongside the day job, Michael Forster, Ally Barrett, who are/were both ordained.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I might start a new thread entitled, 'Why liberal and MoTR hymnody can be just as toe-curlingly crass and as crap as some charismatic evangelical material ...'

Would there be any takers?

There's one way to find out! [Devil]
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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Evangelicals are due to dominate all British denominations by 2020. (I think it'll take a little longer). r than as expressions of religious faith as such.

The lunatics are taking over the assylum.
I guess it all depends on whether the more liberal UK evangelicals continue to gain ground within the congregations. I don't find too many young evangelicals who are homophobic. Most of the ones I know are very social justice orientated, have "green" views about the environment and climate change, have an international outlook and are horrified by resurgent nationalism. (I don't know any who thought the Brexit vote was anything but disastrous.) They strike me as a pretty sane group. Many are patiently working for change from within.

I guess it may be different in the US, where it seems that those with reformist instincts are more likely to follow the lead of good folks like Rachel Held Evans.

Back on the musical main theme, I agree with Pomona. But you probably figured that from my earlier post. For example, I find the Christus Victor resurrection theme is as well echoed musically and in words by Victor's Crown as Thine be the Glory. Sure, some folks may prefer their music to be more attributable to Handel than Darlene Zchech, but I can engage very happily and joyfully with both songs.

Does it really matter if some of us find some music more helpful than others when expressing joy, or sorrow, or love of God and neighbour?

Sometimes I think we use the word manipulation unwisely in that context, simply as a means of criticising a musical genre with which we are uncomfortable. Personally, I find music a very helpful enabler of expressing deep emotions which are already there within me. It's an aid to knowing myself.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Sometimes I think we use the word manipulation unwisely in that context, simply as a means of criticising a musical genre with which we are uncomfortable. Personally, I find music a very helpful enabler of expressing deep emotions which are already there within me. It's an aid to knowing myself.

Of course. The manipulation comes - sometimes, in my experience, unintentionally - when music is so put together and performed as to induce a certain numinous or emotional state. Clearly this can happen in the way charismatic music lifts people up to the heavenlies and then leads into calm intensity. But it can happen in any musical context, from Orthodox liturgy to Welsh enthusiasm to quiet Fresh Expression focus to symphony concert to a set at Glastonbury.

As a leader of worship, I consciously think of where each hymn "fits" and what it will do - there is an art in devising a service (or, indeed, a concert programme). Where it becomes manipulative is a moot point.

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Snags
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Apologies for continuing the tangent, but I'd go further, and say we should just openly own "manipulation".

At the end of the day if I put a service together I am manipulating people. I'm deliberately choosing readings, songs, other inputs to create a particular theme, thrust, atmosphere or tone. The songs are played in a particular way to further that goal.

However, hopefully it is "acceptable" manipulation. The congregation are complicit, I'm not trying to make them suggestible or exert any kind of malign influence - it's all just supposed to enable them to do what they've come to church to do. It's a collaborative manipulation for mutually if unconsciously agreed purposes.

The reason why we can be uncomfortable facing that is that it can be a fine line between that and the bad-to-evil manipulation that other people do to make people suggestible, push a particular agenda etc. etc. Almost to the point where it's one of those comedy irregular verbs. Only it isn't - it's all just manipulation, but one has to be aware of context, purpose, intent, and in a weird way, consent.

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Baptist Trainfan
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Absolutely; my point really was that this manipulation happens in many musical contexts and not just in worship - especially, if you think about it, in events that are well-devised or curated.

To take a well-known if trivial example, the conductor Thomas Beecham would end a concert with what he called a 'tranquiliser' (but which other people called a 'lollipop') as an encore, to calm the audience after a stirring climax to the programme and send them home happy.

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cliffdweller
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As I've been mulling as non-defensively as possible about this, I'm thinking that the issues discussed here are not related so much to evangelical theology per se as they are to a particular evangelical practice coming out of the Church Growth Movement: homogenous unit principle (HUP).

For those who don't know the background, the Church growth movement was an outgrowth of the worldwide missions movement of the 19th & 20th c. Starting with Hudson Taylor, missionaries began to recognize the problem with old-school Western-centric evangelism that ignored indigenous cultures, and strove to find culturally relevant ways to introduce Christianity into existing cultures. So far so good. It began to go a bit askew when missiologists recognized that this works best when you recognize subcultures within an area and only try to address one subculture at a time-- a separate church for each separate tribe within a nation, for example. Instead of a diverse church you seek one that targets a specific group-- homogenous unit principle.

Where it really went south, though, is when it was imported back into the US in the 1970s in the Church Growth Movement. Here you weren't talking about importing Christianity into a new culture, you were talking about reframing Christianity within an already highly churched culture with people who were already at least culturally Christian. But the emphasis on HUP meant that they were getting a version of Christianity that played to THEIR interests, their preferences, their particular subculture (megachurch Saddleback here in So Cal figured this with their infamous "Saddleback Sam"). So the problem of racially segregated churches became magnified, Christians began worshipping in unholy huddles of like-minded people who thought, acted, and lived like they did. Not exactly a recipe for spiritual growth.

In recent years HUP has been soundly repudiated here in US (most notably by evangelical theologian Soong-Chan Rah). But it was so successful in consumerist terms-- yielding megachurches of several 1000s-- that it doesn't die easily.

In terms of style of music, it gets played out in different places in different ways-- traditional choral music for the subculture that likes that, edgy indy rock for the younger churches, twangy country-western for the Bible belt. But in terms of content, the underlying principle of the church growth movement and HUP Is about not challenging you, making you comfortable (framed as "welcoming"). I don't think that yields great lyrics-- whether you're talking traditional choral music or edgy indy rock.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Gamaliel
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I think you're onto something there, Cliffdweller. It's hard to see how that particular Pandora's Box can be closed in Western societies, though.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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