Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Worship Resources

Picture Jesus raging through the temple just before the feast of Passover. Is it graceful or is it raw, unbridled rage flowing out? Do the moneychangers scatter in fear or are the planted in astonishment? Is there silence or mass pandemonium? I think maybe he gets a little sweaty and really gets into it so when he is done he has to sit back, get some air and wonder at it all.

Wonder at the gall of those who would dare pervert the sacred traditions for profit. Wonder at those who worked the system for personal gain.

This was the topic of the sermon at church this week. And as we were getting into the 'why' of it, the speaker realized they were selling CDs in the foyer. He was quick to point out this was not the same thing as what Jesus was raging against. These were worship resources to help us "worship right". And at a reasonable price!

When did christian CDs become a need for right worship before God? It had to be sometime post-Bible writing because I searched through it that afternoon and couldn't find any mention of worship resources in it. I don't mean to rag on the speaker because from what I know he seems like a good guy but it seems revealing to me of the facts we automatically spew without thinking of what we are saying. In varying from his notes he revealed a wide held belief: we need professionals to aid us in "good" worship.

For me there were some more serious parallels between popular Christian music and Jesus' raging through the temple. Why did he rage? Because people were turning sacred traditions in for profit. They were working the system. And I wonder if most of our Christian artists aren't doing the same. Maybe not intentionally but, doing so none the less. There's a belief that we need worship CDs so there's a market for CDs that's isn't going anywhere so there are people to fill the need. Because the need is there regardless of quality we substitute cheesy knock-offs and pop jingles for worship.

Steve Bell states: "The problem with poor art is that people keep buying it. I really think that much of the new worship music is very poor, but the church gobbles it up greedily, and so artists aren't forced to work harder. We've lost our capacity for nuance, complexity and paradox."

And that's even assuming that worship is just music.

I can't help but think that we've perverted the good thing that praise was. We've worked the system for a profit. Don't argue with me that they're not making profit because they are! The artists, the label, the retailer. And not at cheap prices either! I'm pretty sure if Jesus were to walk into the Christian bookstore or a Christian music festival he'd start raging something about a bunch of thieves....

1 comment:

The Renegade Librarian said...

Amen. And Amen. Pretty much bang-on.