Monday, April 2, 2007

Garbage In, Garbage Out

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.
(Philippians 4:8).

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…

3 comments:

Paul said...

Father Bless:
I can't agree with you more. I grew up on the Beatles, 70's, 80's and some 90's music then I ventured to country. My heart and wayward youth was in the music. It does have an affect on me. Now I only listen to Orthodox Chant. I go to sleep with it in my head, I wake up with it in my head. At work I hum the tunes. Thank God Leah does not hear me singing in the shower in the morning.

I believe God gives us a way out of every situation. Instead of listening to trash on the radio, I fill my mind with Church.

Faithfully,
Paul

MARGARET VRANESEVICH said...

Father James:

I am blessed by you, your blogs and teachings.

I am old enough to remeber the tunes and lines of each of these songs in today's blog.

I listen to a Non-Orthodox Christian radio station here in Houston that readers might enjoy--KSBJ 89.3. It has music, programs and information for the whole family. If they are broadcasting a news story not suitable for children, they will let you know so you can turn down the radio for 30-45 seconds while they broadcast it. I enjoy it and many of the songs and teachings are in line with our faith.

Thanks for your guidance and leadership to our church community.

Margaret Vranesevich

Anonymous said...

My growing up music was the silly songs of the fifties and sixties. I say silly, because there was not much substance in the lyrics. Having revealed my age, I admit rap and other modern pop styles really annoys me, even when I don't understand the words.

But I spent so much time singing Broadway tunes (forgive my taste) that I cannot now bear to listen to orchestral versions of any of that era, because the words pop into my head. Fortunately I love Mozart and friends. Yes, I know his text was not "pure", but I don't understand German and Italian. ;-)