One of my favorite songs these days, probably my favorite actually, is a soulful number by Leela James simply titled Music off her album A Change Is Gonna Come. I remember the first time I heard her sing the song, in fact, I could probably tell you where I was. I still get goosebumps when I hear it.
This morning, on my way into the office, I was feeling a little bit bluesy and did a search, found the CD, plugged it in and heard the “dynamic, deep-voiced, old-fashioned soul” sounds of this diminutive woman emanate from my stereo. With passion typically only found in the pulpit, this amazingly beautiful woman bemoaned the lack of real music, the kind we aren’t used to hearing any more. As she slipped into the first chorus, I cranked it up and sang along…
Where’d the soul go?
It’s all about the video
We don’t sing no more
Where’s the music gone?
Where’d the music go?
It’s all just for the dough
It ain’t soul no more
Where’s the music gone?
I pulled out the sleeve notes, found the lyrics and I as I read them I was struck by a remarkable similarity to the pop christianity that so pervades our world today. Across the airwaves and from our TV screens we see pop christianity on full display. Just like in corporate America, the more successful the speaker, the more we tune in. We’ve built huge
corporations “ministries”, obstensively to glorify God, but more and more I’m wondering if in fact we aren’t bowing our knee to the cult of personality.
As I look around me, I’ve begun to see a startling phenomenon. We seem to have lost our first love. This pop christianity seems to have made us angry. We seem to have one common goal – to loudly complain about how evil everything and everyone around us is. And that’s all well and good, but if all our yellin’ ain’t gettin’ us anywhere, then maybe it’s time we sat down and took a hard look at what we are selling to see if perhaps we’ve lost our way.
Our churches, websites, radio and television programmes are so slick, you wonder which of the creme-de-la-creme on Madison Avenue was hired to produce them. We flock to hear ministers and evangelists who travel around the world in $16 million dollar jets and driving brand new Benz’s. And really, that’s fine and dandy – y’all know I have an affinity for the nicer things in life – but it’s like we’ve replaced our first love with these personalities. Some where along the line, instead of caring for people, we’ve started caring about our pet issues.
Leela James laments in her song about the fact that she can’t even “turn on my radio ~ somebody hollerin’ bout a bitch or a ho” and I understand. I’ve listened to the shows and read the reports about how awful our world is becoming, always followed by an appeal for more money so more can be done to
scare religion into people spread this gospel that has everyone running scared…and angry. Very little help or hope is offered. Those who do offer something different are often castigated as being weak. Pop christianity says that grace is cool, but it ain’t really what it’s all about. It’s about forcing people to understand how awful they are. There’s no love. The music is gone.
The idols in today’s pop christianity tout their influence in Washington and in fact all over the world while at the same time using questionable data with no hard evidence other than anecdotal to declare their positions to be correct. They invoke God, saying it’s his bidding they are doing and then declare anyone who disagrees to be pure evil. They used to have a message of hope and love, but increasingly I sense a lack…a lack of love. Where’s it gone? Are Jim Dobson, Joyce Meyers, Pat Robertson or T.D. Jakes our gods? Most of those who identify as a christian today would answer “absolutely not” yet they are the first people that many of us run to when confronted by any little problem in our life or in our world. Instead of going directly to the Creator, we’ve taken to going to a polished and successful substitute…one who’s got Washington’s ear (well, to hear them tell it anyway).
Maybe it’s me, but right about now, I feel like Leela ~ “I’m missing music.” You know…the kind of music that actually gets deep down in ya. The kind that makes you love your neighbor “like your self!” The kind that makes you reach out to a stranger who needs a helping hand. The kind that allows for humanity in others…not just our own humanity! You know, REAL MUSIC!
In the shouting that often comes from our world of pop christianity, I can hear the anger. Anger at sin, debauchery and wickedness that pervades our world. It’s an anger that is often justified. But instead of offering something different, today’s pop christianity has offered slick promo’s telling about prayer meetings with important people and how this is supposed to bring about change. We hear about how god, through these various ministry leaders, got our President elected and how this is “our time to stand up and be counted!” We’ve gotten real full of ourselves. We’ve lost our humility. We’ve lost the music!
With Leela James, I’m saying that it’s time to ~
fall back in love with music ~ nothin’ but the music.