Kent Bush | @KentBush
Remember when the biggest controversy in Christian music was whether the kiss when heaven met earth was sloppy and wet or merely unforeseen?
Those were the good old days.
As Christians we deal with serious and life altering issues. I wish we didn't deal with them in such silly and cynical ways.
Because most Christians have faith that is as narrow as their own minds and as deep as a summer puddle, it is much easier for them to judge others and cast aspersions than offer any degree of kindness or understanding.
People of faith really need to stop looking through the walls of their glass houses and put down the magnifying glass that they use to inspect the actions and motives of others’ beliefs. We would all do better spending that time looking in a mirror, but we don’t.
Facebook is filled with blogs about “why people don’t sing in church anymore” or articles critical of singers who perform rather than leading worship in a church services.
I love the revisionist history where everyone in the church was tuned and ready to sing loud and proud with hymnals in hand. My mother played the organ for about three decades in our little hymnal-handed church and I can assure you, they weren’t all singing.
In fact, most were complaining when the music minister went wild and sang all four verses of a hymn. Everyone knows you only sing the first, second and fourth verse. What was he thinking? The Methodists are going to beat us to the restaurants for lunch!
We were holier than those rock and roll churches though – with their guitars and drums and other instruments of the devil that they used to sing those repetitive choruses.
Few of the organ enthusiasts like to discuss the fact that Jesus and his followers didn’t play organs or even pianos when they sang religious songs. The organ was introduced to make worship more palatable to the crowd of the day.
Imagine that, taking popular music and adding scriptural and spiritual lyrics to it. Those old organists might have been on to something.
Few controversies on this level have ever matched the recent Hillsong Christmas performance of Silent Night. Hillsong is an Australian church and the home of great musicians and writers who have populated the Christian music airwaves and many Sunday services with great songs of faith.
According to many recent religious reviewers, they are apostates who are leading the church astray.
Admittedly, I would have loved to have been in the production meeting where someone had the idea to perform Silent Night in a cabaret style complete with faux flapper costumes and dances. That was a meeting that needed someone like me at the end of the table laughing and shaking my head.
It was creative. Give them points for that. It was awkward by any standard.
But I think the church will survive a song being performed in a less than ideal way.
People have such an inexplicably elevated level of self-importance. There are a lot of people out there who think they were hired as God’s assistant regional manager.
The Apostle Paul wrote 13 books of the New Testament and called himself the chief of sinners. All of these hypocrites depict themselves as a paragon of morality and feel no irony in casting judgment on others.
I got a kick out of one YouTube video blogger who obviously enjoys a good organ solo on Sunday mornings.
She described the Hillsong performance in the best terms possible.
“Here is the singer doing the Hootchie Cootchie with her midriff showing,” she said in pious perfection.
Everyone knows Jesus was decidedly anti-midriff and don't even get me started on his position on doing the hootchie cootchie.
She went on to say that “this just isn’t Christian. It just isn’t.”
You might have doubted her. But that second “it just isn’t” proves she is right. She just is.
She wasn’t finished.
“They are not a church God sanctions as Christian,” she said with moral force. I had no idea there was a list. Is my church on it?
We tried more than a half dozen churches when we moved to Shawnee, Okla. It was tough to decide which one was right for our family. All of the churches here are great in a lot of ways.
Some had organs and hymns. Others had acoustic guitars. Some have electric guitars and drums. They were all great and they met the Psalm 98:4 threshold of “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!”
I know all of them did everything they could to help elevate the experience of people in the pews at their church.
I understand why people were upset about the less than traditional Hillsong version of Silent Night. But I won’t allow myself to believe that the same hearts and minds that create incredible worship music take music about Christmas lightly. It was part of a show and I won’t believe their intentions were less than good.
Judging this group on how they performed one song during one show is like judging me on one column when I have written about 150 a year for more than 20 years.
You don’t have to like the way they performed Silent Night. Some people don’t like donuts. Seriously, it’s true.
But that doesn’t mean that donuts aren’t incredible. If there were a Nobel Peace Prize for pastries, the inventor of donuts would win it every year.
The Creator of the universe doesn’t need our help judging humanity. He has that one covered.
We would all do well to follow Paul’s advice from 1 Corinthians 10:31-33:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”
That applies to the people making new arrangements of hallowed Christmas songs and those who will listen to them.
Kent Bush is the Publisher of the Shawnee News-Star and a nationally distributed columnist through GateHouse Media's More Content Now news service. He writes about 150 columns a year. Some of them are funny. Sometimes that is on purpose. You can follow him on Twitter at @KentBush.