Friday, October 17, 2003

Amber and the Cubans

Today I got a most refreshing comment from a student. For a teacher, it is a major encouragement when a student applies a concept to a relationship that is not connected to that with which it was explained. The context involves Cuban music. Hear it in your mind’s ear. Here’s the quote, “the whole country sounds like that – not just the music, that’s the sound of the culture.” Wow! What a compliment to a culture, that identity could be so strong that your music is an honest expression of who you are; that you are recognized in your music.
Here in America, we are more often an expression of our music. We don’t express our struggles, joys, beliefs, and convictions through music, instead, it shapes how we think, what we like, how we talk, what we wear. Some styles of American music express struggles, but they have become so stylized that the strugglers of the original expression are almost patronized and we now express what our struggles, beliefs, and dreams would be if we had any.
So how could I expect mainstream Christian music to be any different? Its role is completely reversed so that it is no longer shaped by who we are, but we by it lest we hear it and begin to struggle with the same faith growing issues as the writer of a song. Our art is no longer our second hand creation spurred by our being creatures of God. Our art has become entertainment that shapes us rather than it being shaped by God through us. As a result, our music has become less true. The Bible is full of stories about real people through whom we see the power of God, but our music is devoid of those opportunities. We don’t allow our music to represent who we are, we are not recognizable in our music. After hearing Christian music, no one is ever going to say, “the whole Christian culture sounds like that!”
Christian music is the only music categorized by lyric content. What’s more, the lyric content that allows the categorization is extremely narrow. It seems that certain specific words are required rather than meaning, message, or concepts.
I want to be a man whose identity is Christ. I want everything about me to reflect my identity. May my involvement in music cause change in others because of who and what I represent. May I only be changed by others’ music that reflects Christ in their lives.

© 2003 rod Lewis