Stuff Christians Hate (Or Should)
|by Anne Morse|
Roberto alerted me to the Stuff Christians Like site and the spinoff called Stuff Christian Culture Likes, which are very funny. But this picture made me wince. It wasn't the bare feet thing so much as the rock band plus the words-up-on-a-screen thing. I think there's a reason God repeatedly tells his people to sing (as opposed to appointing a Christian version of a Greek Chorus to sing FOR us at church). As T. M. Moore writes in "Whatever Happened to Singing," "It's curious, but Scripture gives us no specific guidance in how to listen to music. Music, according to the Bible, is not the spectator sport we have made it to be."
Even when congregations are encouraged to sing along to the music of the band, there is, inevitably, too much focus on the (very loud) singers up on the stage at the expense of focusing one's thoughts on God. And I can't help but think that being up in front of worshipers performing puts the entertainers' minds on themselves instead of the Almighty. ("Do I look okay? How do I sound?")
I can't think of a scriptural criticism of big screens with verses on them, but I hate them anyway. Why do we need these things? If you can read the words on a screen, why not read them out of a hymnal? Does anyone think a big screen makes a church sanctuary look more attractive? And--as my husband, a veteran of a number of church choirs, has noted--without the musical instructions in hymn books, congregations no longer know HOW to sing anything but the simplest melodies. Brent once began singing the harmony of a famous hymn whose words were shown on a screen (a hymn he was familiar with through following the harmony line in hymn books). He was shocked to find that he was the only man singing the harmony. Nobody else appeared to realize there even was one. And the new "praise choruses" (inflicted on us by "music teams") and other contemporary abominations NEVER offer anything but simple (and often sappy) melodies.
There's been a huge loss of depth in church music, and I am angry about it. In A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken writes that he and his wife, Davy, while still unbelievers, used to go into churches to listen to the music. Today, I suspect very few churches would draw strangers in with the beauty and complexity of their music.
Finally--whatever happened to dressing up for church? What we wear reflects our respect for the occasion. When we meet to worship the One who saved us from eternal damnation--shouldn't our clothing reflect it? It occurred to me recently (when confronted with the wrinkled T-shirt and torn jeans of a worshiper in the pew in front of me) that the only thing people dress up for anymore, at church, is weddings and funerals. They do this partly because they know the bride will KILL them if they show up in jeans on her special day, and also because they know a grieving family will never forgive them if they show up in shorts and thongs at a loved one's funeral. In other words, they show respect for the occasion. So who gave them a permission slip to wear, Sunday after Sunday, the grubbiest clothes in their wardrobe when worshiping the King of Kings?
(Image courtesy of Stuff Christian Culture Likes)