Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely…meditate on these things.
Words that are set to music are easily remembered. If this were not true, then corporations would not spend millions of dollars each year trying to write new jingles to sell their products. If you are over 35 years old, I bet that you can not only hum the tunes that go with the following words, but also finish the songs:
1. “Two all beef patties …”
2. “I’m a pepper…”
3. “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce…”
Feeling hungry or thirsty yet? It has been more than twenty years since any of the commercials with these songs aired, and yet you probably remembered them all. When we hear the same words over and over again, we not only remember the words, but we also tend to be influenced by them. In other words, the music that we listen to can be a powerful force that affects how what and how we think. This is especially true for young children and teenagers, whose brains (as science tells us) are not fully developed and who are especially impressionable.
A parent of one of the kids in our parish's youth group recently told me “all of the music my kid listens to is about drugs, sex, or killing people.” Most of the music that our youth is listening to, while probably not quite so bad, still does little for their growth as a Christian. The fact is, most of the music on the radio today sends messages that at best ignore and at worst flatly contradict the Gospel of Christ. If you don’t believe me, grab a few of your kid’s CD’s and read the lyrics. How do the lyrics compare with the teachings of the Church? My guess is not favorably.
It would be nice if our kids would listen to nothing but Orthodox Church music, but we all know that this is not realistic. However, there is a solution: contemporary Christian music. For many years, there have been groups and solo artists who are Christians and who write and perform songs that contain messages about loving God and each other and living a pure life. Some of these artists do not mention God explicitly in their lyrics, but at least the lyrics are positive. Even better, the music is in the styles that our kids love, including rap, R&B, alternative, hard rock, punk, country, and every other style that you can imagine (there is also “softer” stuff for us “old” folks!). And although most of the musicians are evangelicals, their lyrics are usually non-sectarian: they rarely ever preach Protestantism, but simply love, faith, and purity.
Jennifer and I have listened to Christian music for over two decades, and doing so has greatly helped our spiritual lives. I firmly believe that it can do likewise for you and your kids. If you would like some more information about some good Christian groups to listen to, I will be glad to help. Tomorrow, I will discuss at least one in some detail…