Something that has come up a lot lately in my classes is the issue of using “Christianese.” If you don’t know, “Christianese” is basically a way of describing all the cliche words and expressions that Christians use in writing, song lyrics and even just in speaking sometimes. For example, a lot of contemporary worship music all sounds the same. It all has imagery of mountains and valleys and God calming the seas. I think people are just afraid to get away from Biblical language in worship. The problem this creates is that no one who hasn’t grown up using that kind of language and listening to that kind of music is going to have a very difficult time relating. Furthermore, people generally don’t tolerate cliches in “secular” music and I don’t think we should tolerate it in worship. To me it feels like taking the easy way out. It makes it feel too routine and practiced and less genuine.

Something else that came up in my “Music in Worship” class is the idea of using secular music to worship. I am of the opinion that we can use secular music and even instrumental music if it helps us feel a spiritual connection. I am also a fan of metaphor and allegory in worship music. I like artists that are what I call “sneaky-sneaky.” I think the best kinds of worship songs are one’s that could be passed by as secular if you weren’t paying attention.

Some great examples are:

I’ll admit the Tenth Ave song is a little less subtle, but it’s different than a lot of Christian songs, which is why I like it.

I like the Andy Timons tune because it technically has nothing to do with grace or love or sacrifice, but it sounds happy and it makes me think of freedom and forgiveness in a way. It makes one feel like there’s been something difficult to overcome and it has been overcome. It isn’t cliche, which I think makes worshiping to something like this more genuine.

Also, just for the record, I know nothing about Andy Timons. I just heard this on Pandora and liked it, so I bought it on iTunes. It may have been his intention to do a sneaky-sneaky worship tune for all I know.

Something else that came up in my class is whether using or misusing Christianese is a moral issue. I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but I feel that it is generally better to be original in worship. The only foreseeable problem is that there should also be unity which means singing and playing songs that everyone knows. I think the best thing to do is to keep creating new music and teaching it to people so that everyone will constantly be able to express their faith in new ways and change as the world changes and as God changes. People don’t stay the same and God certainly doesn’t stay the same, so neither should the music that connects us.

Free For All

My mom picked me up from the studio on Friday and somehow the conversation went very quickly from music to money– specifically taxes. I’m more liberal than Ken or my mom on a few issues, but when it comes to money I’m very conservative. My mom started talking about how there is basically no incentive to work hard anymore because middle class families are paying absurd amounts of money to the government to pay for handouts to people who don’t work and don’t pay any taxes.

There are several problems with this structure. The first is that fewer people are willing to help each other out of the goodness of their hearts because they are being forced to help by the government. There is much less trust because people assume that everyone on welfare abuses the system when in fact there are people in this country who badly need help for legitimate reasons. The second problem is that people do abuse the system. There are people who are perfectly capable of finding a job and working hard but prefer to collect unemployment and use food stamps. I personally know some of these people and they have nicer stuff than my family does because we hardly go out and we don’t see super expensive stuff as a priority. I’m not saying that having nice things is a bad thing, but you should have to work for them.

Furthermore, high taxes hurt small businesses. Ken told us that after taxes and expenses he hardly makes any money from the studio. He loves his job and he’s very good at it and he has great ideas for expanding the business, but his hands are currently tied. My ultimate goal is to become a touring musician, but if that doesn’t work out I’ll get some kind of writing or editing job. My plan is to get at least popular enough so that the taxes won’t kill me. I just want to be able to live comfortably without worrying about money.

My mom’s grandparents didn’t have to worry a out this stuff when they came over from Italy. They worked incredibly hard and even though they were poor, they didn’t gripe about it. They worked, and eventually they bought five houses on the same street. They had fourteen children and all of those children lived in those five houses unless they decided to leave. Those children all had children and they were still poor, but they all helped each other. Their children grew up happy, educated and successful. No one helped them except their family. If the options are to work or starve, people will work. It sounds harsh, but it seems that some people need to be forced into that position. This still does not mean that individuals and other organizations should not help each other. It is in fact the duty of the Church to take care of the poor.

Now because travel is so easy, families are separated sometimes by entire continents or oceans. It should be families, friends and private charities helping people, not the government. The government should be worrying about international affairs, keeping the peace within our own borders, education and taking care of infrastructure. When they forcibly take people’s hard earned money and give it to people who may not deserve it they make them want to hold onto whatever is left with both hands, creating an “every man for himself” mentality.

Ok…. Rant is over.

Almost The Weekend: Celebrate With Music!

Well guys, It’s almost Friday! I thought I’d post a few music videos that were happy and Friday-ish. Music is universal and heals all wounds.

Check out this fantastic display of musical joy!

I also thought I’d share this song because I found it pretty helpful when I was feeling down, and maybe somebody whose week is dragging will find it helpful too.

Finally, I thought I’d just share one of my all time favorite songs because it makes me happy!

Don’t Be Mad

Don’t be mad. It’s not worth it. You can walk around with your head down and stew about whatever, but it won’t make the situation better, and it won’t make you feel better. Ask yourself “why am I really mad?” What is the true reason? Chances are that if you’ve been angry long enough you’ve lost the reason you were mad in the first place.

People stay mad for various reasons. They justify grudges with moral reasoning. Perhaps it makes them feel powerful or more in control. Perhaps it’s just an act and they feel obligated to feel “angry” about something. Regardless, anger is never something that should be allowed to last. In the words of Yoda, “anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

The problem with anger is that it is often misdirected, and it is usually not the correct emotional response. It is easier to be mad at a specific person or group of people than about an actual problem. On the same token, anger is the easier emotion to jump to when a better response is empathy or at least sympathy and optimism in regard to one’s own problems. There is ALWAYS a light at the end of the tunnel. It could always be worse, and a little optimism makes everything better.

Treat life like a challenge that can be overcome. Don’t pity yourself or bring yourself down and don’t display your suffering for the whole world to see. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever talk about your problems, but don’t make a show of them either. It doesn’t get you any closer to solving them and it probably won’t make you too many friends.

If something needs to be fixed, fix it. If it can’t be fixed, so be it. That’s life. Look up at the sky and say “what a nice color blue.” Listen to the street performers play their music and say “what a nice tune.” Take or make time to read or write stories. Sing your favorite songs while you walk to work or to your next class. Life is short, so we ought to make the best of it.

As always, I write these kinds of posts for myself as much as anyone else. Nobody’s perfect, but everyone Is capable of joy and love.

Have a nice day, peeps! ❤