On the topic of religion, interests of fairness require me to disclose a few items up front. Although I neither describe myself as religious nor regularly attend church, I do believe in God. I further acknowledge that should I ultimately subscribe to a particular faith, it would likely be to some branch of Christianity.

Having grown up around it, it is the shortest psychological distance I can travel from my isolated berg of self-directed communion to a structured doctrine.

I must also state that I believe Christians today enjoy a routine and unfair denigration in a manner that practitioners of other major faiths do not.

And to Christians’ great credit, I’ve not seen them use those slings and arrows as leverage, but rather accept the abuse with the proverbial turning of the cheek.

Having laid down those markers, I feel better about laying into the music genre of Christian rock.

For years I’ve tried to ascertain what I find so repellant about it (can I get a witness?).

My dislike has nothing to do with the music or musicianship itself since — if I’m being fair — the major Christian players of today hold their own against the secular mainstream.

No outside influence poisoned the well, so to speak; my wariness was instinctual.

And yet I didn’t — and don’t — disparage Christianity. If I had a beef with the church then naturally I wouldn’t want to be reminded of it by the music I listen to. But no such bone of contention exists (you’ll have to take my word).

So why this reaction? At last, I struck upon it.

Perhaps three years ago, a close friend who was “getting into [his] Christian side” asked if I would like to go to “this cool church” with him.

My policy on such matters is simple: Go. Keep an open mind.

The church, located in Rosslyn, was a youth-oriented, kind-of-hipster gig to which area 20-somethings flocked.

Service was held in an auditorium, complete with stage, and was presided over by two pastors, a guy and a gal, both sufficiently youthful and hip.

I don’t think it’s possible to raise an objection to anything that transpired over the next hour, but nor does any bit of the experience remain in my memory apart from the Christian alt-rock band that played a few numbers at key points.

The band was killer, I won’t lie. But by the fourth tune, it finally hit me: Every song was about Jesus, which brings me to my beef with Christian rock.

It’s the exhausting single-mindedness that gets me, like a teenage boy singing about his girlfriend Mandy all the time, without a break.

But he’s not just singing about her vaguely so listeners can imagine themselves in the scenario.

He’s singing about Mandy by name, so you positively know this ain’t your girl.

You might hope at some point he’ll sing about — oh, I don’t know — anything besides. But no, he’s got Mandy on the brain and that’s where he’s steering his ship.

First song: Mandy, Mandy, Mandy. Next song: The changing times and how it pertains to Mandy, Mandy, Mandy.

Next song: All about temptation but at the end there’s a surprise visit by Mandy, Mandy, Mandy.

Next song: Stuff that Mandy likes to do. Next song: How Mandy has made him a better man. Next song: Waiting to be nearer to Mandy. And so on.

For the record, Mandy is totally awesome. But it wouldn’t hurt to get off-topic for awhile, if only to clear the air and get psyched up for another round of Mandy.

My sense is this preoccupation will forever cause mainstream audiences to turn their noses up at Christian rock.

But I also get the feeling that devoted fans are fine with that. That’s kind of their cross to bear.


1 Comment

  1. Kayley says:

    “Every song was about Jesus, which brings me to my beef with Christian rock.”
    What do you expect from CHRISTian music? Should they be singing about sex or drugs or the Buddha? Of course Christian music is going to be mainly about Jesus…

    Also, you shouldn’t judge a whole genre of music based on four Christian songs from one night “perhaps three years ago”. And there wasn’t even a mention of any song titles or the band names in this opinion piece. Were the songs from Hillsong? Chris Tomlin? Be specific. If you want to critique a genre of music, at least research it first.

    Another thing, the “Christian alt-rock band” was most likely a praise team–they lead the congregation at the church to worship God through song. It’s not about entertainment as it is about worshipping and praising God. (Many churches these days sing Christian “rock” praise songs instead of older, traditional hymns.) One of the main purposes of Christian music is to glorify God, instead of glorifying the singer/band, which is totally different than secular music.

    If you want to listen to more subtle Christian music, try Relient K–they don’t usually say “Jesus” but they are apparently Christian. There’s also Christian rappers like Lecrae.