Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Christian" Music and Ramblings

You know what I think is maybe the stupidest question I’ve ever heard? “Are they a Christian band?”

Why is this such a stupid question? Well, let’s pick some “Christian” Bands:

Kutless is a “Christian” band. They sing “Christian” lyrics, are signed to a “Christian” label and tour with “Christian” bands.

Switchfoot is a “Christian” band. They sing “Spiritual” lyrics. They are signed to a “secular” label and tour with both “Christian” and “secular” bands.

As I Lay Dying is a “Christian” band they sing “secular” (but not sinful) lyrics, are signed to a “secular” label and regularly tour with “Secular” bands, but also with “Christian” bands.

Now, the thing is, all of these bands have been identified as “Christian” some, like Switchfoot has attempted to deny this altogether. Yes, they admit their Christian Faith, but they don’t claim to write explicitly Christian lyrics (“thinking man’s band”; IE Christian, or Biblical Lyrics, but they’ve never mentioned Jesus or God or something directly Christian) and they do try to tour and work with more secular bands. Others, like As I Lay Dying simply claim that they aren’t a Christian band, but Christians in a band. No Christian Lyrics or Christian Music Festivals (well… okay if there is ever a Christian Hardcore/Metalcore festival then they’d go to it, but there aren’t enough Christian bands for one of those. That being said the Christian Hardcore Scene is big enough they could tour with only Christian hardcore bands. But they don’t. They do “secular” festivals/tours like Wacken and stuff as well).

What is my point? The entire “Christian” label is meaningless. The First problem is that we one can never truly know how Christian a band is until they talk to them in person. The only “Christian” band I know for sure that has a relationship with God is Leeland, and that’s because I heard Jack Mooring preach to me, and then have him pray for me. I do honestly believe that most of the Bands out there that end up labeled “Christian” do in fact have some sort of relationship with Jesus, but I can’t be sure.

Another thing that bugs me is that we have this label of “Christian” but it only really deals with lyrics. Bands like Third Day are more Country-Rock, Skillet is Hard Rock, As I Lay Dying is Hard/Metalcore. These are all rather different genres yet all the bands get labeled “Christian”. I will admit that there is a CCM industry and a CCM sound along the lines of soft-rock/pop but there are also a LOT of bands that don’t fit that genre that get labeled “Christian” (POD, Switchfoot, Kutless to a degree, Demon Hunter, UnderOath to name a few).

Another thing I think that saddens me about the entire “Christian music” thing is how by labeling bands as “Christian” you alienate a section of the music listening population. Bands like Switchfoot and As I Lay Dying have avoided being labeled for just this reason. They want EVERYONE to listen to their music, and, especially in the case of Switchfoot I suspect (As I Lay Dying seems more to be just “Christians in a band”; they’re not really trying to reach people, just entertain) this is for evangelism purposes (though, it is hard to do evangelism from the stage, it can be done in a lot of ways. Demon Hunter is my favorite example because while in the Live in Nashville concert they don’t ever really mention God, they lyrics in all their songs are so Biblical etc it’s hard not to know what they’re talking about.

… I’m starting ramble here, so let me try to get to my point:

While I understand the Labeling of bands “Christian” (and honestly, it’s the best label for people like Chris Tomlin, who basically does Worship music) at the same time I wish people would stop it. I believe, that Believers should be at the forefront of every single thing in our world: Creative, Political, Economic, etc. The Top Songs on the Charts should be by “Christian” artists, not people like Kayne West or Britney Spears (okay, she is old news now, but it’s the best name I can get right now; I don’t listen to pop). One of these problems is a dearth of musical talents in the CCM Industry, but bands like AILD, Switchfoot, Relient K and Skillet have proved that one can be both “Christian” and “good” so I think that’s more of a general “90% of stuff is Crap” (Moore’s Law?) than anything.

I think in a lot of ways that my passion. I want to see Christians at the forefront of huge, multi-million international businesses, proving that you don’t have to be immoral and greedy to be successful. I want to see Bands like Switchfoot grow to become the next Iron Maiden or Nirvana. I want to see Christian authors to write good, not sappy, moral novels. I’m constantly disappointed by the amount of language and sex in novels these days, but I’ve yet to read a Christian Fiction that I’m truly, truly pleased with disregarding CS Lewis and Tolkien. Two authors out of the dozens I’ve read. How depressing is that?

*steps off soapbox*

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thailand/USA Trip Part 1

*sigh* I think this is like the third time I’ve tried, and failed, to write an update this blog. Its been a while and I’m sorry, but that’s what happens when I go on holiday and get a bunch of new video games.

So… I suppose I should like… start a series on the States/Thailand and ignore the more boring, mundane life here in Dhaka. That sounds like a plan if you ask me. :P

So, first off, a very brief mention of Thailand:

It was okay I guess. Not our best holiday in Thailand. I had fun and managed to relax a fair bit. I watched GI Joe in theaters (reaction: it was good, but suffered from mediocre acting and rewriting characters in a fashion I did not enjoy. But as far as Action Movies go it was good), watched Black Hawk Down for the first time (depressing, confusing, but very good war movie. Not as violent as I thought it would be, surprisingly) and Saving Private Ryan for the second time (I say again: EXCELLENT movie).

Now, the US:

*sigh* the US. There was a lot of stuff that happened in the US. I mean, I’m making some very important decisions over the next few months regarding College and what I’ll be studying etc. I spent two weeks in the US with the primary purpose of looking for a college where I can continue my studies. I’ve pretty much made up my mind I want to be an English Writing Major, probably with a focus in Professional writing (though minoring in creative writing, for fun really, could does appeal to me). Before visiting the states I had three colleges in mind for my future studies: Uni of Mary-Hardin Baylor (UMHB), Baylor University, and St. Edwards University. Both UMHB and Baylor are Baptist schools and pretty much have a strong Christian Worldview. St. Edwards is “Catholic Heritage” meaning it was founded by the same guy as Notre Dame, but felt (to me) a whole lot secular than the schools. No one assumed my parents were missionaries as St. Edwards…

Anyways so I went to the US to specifically look at these schools and try and determine, assuming I could get into all of them (I had already been accept to UMHB with a decent academic scholarship) and see which one seemed like “the best fit” for me.

I visited St. Edwards first and I was very, very impressed with the school. When I visited it a year ago I didn’t seem as impressed. I mean, I guess it was a decent school, but I didn’t really know if liked it that much. This time I had a very different feeling. I went to a Freshman Worldview Class that was very interesting (read: Logic + Modern Politics = Isaac goes debate crazy) and all the students I talked to (a grand total of… 4; which is a lot for me seeing as I’m nearly anti-social sometimes) were very friendly and helpful.

I also talked to two different Admissions Counselors (the homeschool one and the International Admissions one) both of whom were very helpful and had a lot of information that they were able to give me.

To make a long story short: St. Edwards seemed like a very impressive school. Academically I’m sure I can find enough challenging course for me (if not regular, then honors; but I do want to be challenged. Not so much that I overwhelm myself, but I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting time in class or not learning anything), and as far as social stuff: the school is decently big AND its in the middle of Austin. Austin may be small by my standard (1 million people? Pft that’s less than 10% of the population of Dhaka) it is also “the live music capital of the world” and should have enough stuff for me to find myself plenty happy. All I need is a RPG/Wargaming group and I’ll probably be set. I’d like a good DotA group but I’ll be happy without that. I think.

We also visited Baylor a few days later. I personally think that Baylor has a better campus and nicer looking buildings, but that’s kinda to be expected considering Baylor’s bigger budget and general prestige; those get you a better campus.

However, other than that, I was, surprisingly, unimpressed. I mean, the people were knowledgeable and helpful (plus I got a lot of freebies; I got a Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle!) but to put it in simple terms: it appeared God was telling me to go to St. Edwards.

Like I said, I was surprised, I really though Baylor would be my ideal school, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The more I think about it the more I want to go to St. Edwards. I don’t want to start saying “I when I go to St. Eds” instead of “when I got to college” but… I guess I could say that unless there is a serious act of God I plan on going to St. Edwards.

That’s all for now, I’ll post another update later.