Generation of Mediocrity

I’m starting to realize that I’m really a 58 year old inside a 28 year old’s body. I have an old soul and I actually really like it. I prefer classical music and jazz over today’s hip hop. I prefer to address my elders by Mr and Mrs unless they explicitly tell me not to. I prefer a broadway show over another CG generated 3D film.

More recently I’m learning that I prefer old hymns over today’s modern worship music. I see the appeal to modern worship. Stylistically, they have adapted and integrated themselves into a more palatable form for secular audiences. But what absolutely driven me off the edge has been the level of mediocrity that qualifies anyone to be a “songwriter” for worship music. This low level of professionalism doesn’t just stop at song writing, it reeks through the entire Christian culture like Lazarus after hanging out in a tomb for four days. (Can’t prove that he smelled, and I would think Jesus would clean him up a bit but you get the idea.)

Here’s the old man in me: This kind of nonsense needs to stop and needs to stop now.

Have people forgotten that God’s people were once so reverent of their Lord that they wouldn’t even utter His name? In particular, the Tetragrammaton YHWH, which is translated “the Lord” in modern Bibles, was never to be spoken. Now? To borrow from TJ, “we are the generation that coined the phrase, ‘Jesus is my homeboy‘”.

We have moved from lyrical proses such as “Be Thou My Vision” and “Holy, Holy, Holy”, to the genius who wrote these lyrics:

“All of life comes down
To just one thing
And that’s to know You oh Jesus
And make You known”

First, I’d like to know where he learned to count. And second, why didn’t the band, editor, anybody interject and say, um… Charlie, those are are actually two things.

Protestants, in their great attempt to distance themselves from the “legalistic” Catholic church, took their separation to the utter extreme. Have people seen Protestant churches and compared them to Catholic cathedrals recently? It’s downright embarrassing. We have moved away from constructing beautiful, holy temples of worship and stained glass windows to barnyards filled with Pepto pink carpet.

In the fashion world, we have Jesus belt buckles.

In the gaming world, we have Guitar Praise and Dance Praise.

We give our kids “holy” pajamas to wear at night.

To top it off, we will then listen to this musical gem on our way to work.

I am certainly not condemning anyone should they choose to wear, play or listen to any of this stuff. I certainly believe that God ultimately cares more about the heart than the actual execution. But can we not hold ourselves to a higher standard? This is the God of the Universe we’re talking about.

Remember when the Texas Longhorns visited the White House after winning the National Championship in 05? Vince Young, our star player, for whatever reason chose to show up in a track suit to meet the Leader of the Free World. I’m sure President Bush didn’t care about his attire, but would any of us really show up to meet the President in anything less than a suit?

At least not all is lost in the Christian world. David Crowder Band can still bring it:

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About Jason

Remote worker. Stats and analysis nerd. Soccer lover. View all posts by Jason

3 responses to “Generation of Mediocrity

  • Jake

    Agreed in principle, but let’s not forget two things:

    1) Some hymns are lyrically terrible too. It’s not exactly fair to compare a good hymn to crappy contemporary music. Further, it’s usually the better ones that survive or at least get sung the most, so the body of hymns the general church-goer is familiar is probably going to be better than the average contemporary song. Take the top 100 songs of the past century vs. the top 100 songs of the 3 or 4 centuries prior, and I’d say you have a much more apples-to-apples comparison.

    2) All the hymns we think of as “old school” were pretty scandalous back when they were first set to music. I’ll bet there was some cantankerous dude in the 16th century that bragged about being an “old soul” too, and complained about the mediocrity of all these young fools that wrote sh*tty songs to piano music instead of a capella Gregorian chants or whatever floated his boat.

    My experience is that Christian music is generally worse than secular music, simply because the message factors into things so much more than the actual artistry. That pretty much goes for anything labeled Christian, though. The bar is just lower because it can be. Who is going to tell the maker of Guitar Praise that the game sucks rocks? It’s the message that counts. And it keeps impressionable youth from playing good music on that hellish Rock Band game.

    P.S. Broadway plays suck, and it has nothing to do with being old fashioned or contemporary. So does hip hop. Go ride in a horse drawn carriage if you’re such an old soul. Oh, too old! You disappoint me, Poon. That is all.

  • Kim Colvin

    I too must be an old soul or else I’m getting old as I just began attending the “traditional” worship service at my large comtemporary church in So. Cal. I reallzed that between the “loud music” and the distractions of thousands of people in the auditorium I just wasn’t connecting with God any more. The traditional service is in a beatiful chapel and only about 50 people attend. It’s intimate and nurturing and, I believe, a hidden gem.

  • James

    Just now discovering that you’re in the evangelical ghetto?

    Regarding hymnody and song lyrics in general is that they are to communicate Truth and be singable. Not all lyrics need to be didactic in nature but can and should reflect Life as we know it. Face it, most contemporary songs are just not meant to be corporately sung. Check out Indelible Grace for hymns set to more contemporary arrangements.

    Second, what you are seeing is the outworking of a Christian sub-culture. It is implicitly Gnostic in nature and stems a bit from confusion about the redemptive work of Christ. Though Christians are called to live holy lives, we live in an sinful culture composed of fellow sinners. Instead of being in the world, we have withdrawn from the world to create our own little bubble by appropriating and “redeeming” the broader culture.

    Third is most of this is due to a lack of theological rigor within our churches. When a majority of preaching and teaching is milquetoast in nature combined with an individualistic, consumer-driven culture – is it any wonder? Couple this with a complete disconnect from Church history and we have a generation (or two) thinking we just get to make it up as we go.

    I do not think it is we do not hold ourselves to a higher standard – it is simply because we do not think the Bible is enough. We need a dog and pony show to win a hearing with Joe Unbeliever and make it more palatable for him to “accept” the Gospel.

    As an aside, the reason Protestants reacted against Roman Catholic cathedrals and the trappings that came with them was due to the Second Commandment along with Jesus’ command in John 4:24. Look into the Regulative Principle of worship for further study into this subject.

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