Thursday, January 25, 2007

MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE


I have a confession to make. I have been allowing life to interfere with my blogging. Sorry for the lack of updates! :-)

I am enjoying working on the articles about the Church. The more I contemplate this awesome mystery, the more I find that I have to learn. The divine mystery of the Church is meant for my salvation. It isn't meant to create an organizational structure for some utilitarian reason. It is meant to be an icon of Christ and His Kingdom.

More on this later.

As I am researching these articles, we are in the middle of the launch of The Ark, our new 24 hour radio outreach on the Internet. It is very much a work in progress.

Some have questioned the very idea of "contemporary Orthodox Christian music." I understand their concerns. I came from a Christian world dominated by "Jesus is my girlfriend" music. It was sappy, sentimental, and shallow, Yuk! However, I also remember contemporary music that drew me to adore God.

As for contemporary Orthodox Christian music, we are learning all the time of sincere and thoughtful Orthodox Christian musicians who are attempting to use the depth and beauty of the "sublime theology" of the Church to craft songs that reveal Orthodoxy to a generation of people who have never had it before. This music can be a bridge for folks who have never heard of the Orthodox faith. It can also be a bridge to nominal Orthodox people who are still ignorant of the treasure they were born in to.

At the very least, it is an alternative for our Orthodox people to the stuff they are bombarded with every day.

Some may suggest that we do nothing but bask in the rich liturgical sounds of the faith at all times, and I welcome their voice, but perhaps there is more to be said here.

I'd like to hear from you about this. What dangers do you see? Is there a chance that some converts from Evangelicalism are over reacting to something that reminds them of the world they left? Is there anything in contemporary music that can be redeemed by the faith?

Maybe you have other questions. I'd like to hear your thoughts. Just make sure they are respectful and helpful.

Barnabas

10 comments:

saunca said...

As a cradle Orthodox, I have always adored our liturgical services...it is however, tough to "chant" or sing regular liturgical music over and over throughout your week. Lent is always refreshing because there is more music to praise with, to keep running through my mind throughout the day. Aren't we suppposed to pray (praise) without ceasing? During my college years I attended Campus Crusade meetings once a week also to sing glory to God. I miss it terribly as there is not an adult outlet for me to do this without joining a nonOrthodox Church.

I think the most resistance is probably coming from fellow cradle Orthodox. Their fear is that this sort of music will try and "creep" into Sunday worship somehow. That suddenly there will be a youth/young adult push for change and a removal of the traditional ethnicity of the parish. Do you think this fear is realistic?

Also, some of the contemporary Christian music revolves quite heavily around one's personal experience with Jesus/God and contain alot of "I" lyrics. One of the main tenents of Orthodoxy is removing the "I" from worship. It is simply not considered a benefit. Our attention is directed in everyway away from ourselves and on to God and God alone. This may worry some Orthodox Christians as pertaining to Orthodox Contemporary Music.

Dixie said...

Well...for myself I have absolutely no problems with it. I bounce back and forth between listening to Orthodox liturgical music and what I consider to be "good" contemporary Christian music. I am pretty picky about that music though. I listen to things St. Romanos Records sells; (Fr.) Peter Jon Gilquist, Franklin Tait, Justin Matthews. Also Roman Catholic musicians like John Michael Talbot, Matt Maher, Ed Bolduc.

My standards are quite simple...I generally steer clear of anything by someone who doesn't come from the Church or a sacramental denomination. Too much is missing if there is no understanding of the sacramental life in Christ. There are a few exceptions...Rich Mullins is one that comes to mind...but not many.

I am told by the young'uns that the baby boomers who are the ones enamoured with CCM...the younger kids hate it. Don't know how true this is. I have attended my brother's Roman Catholic church for their Lifeteen mass and the congregation is an even mix of both old boomers like me and young pups. My own boys hate CCM but an OCFer (and cradle Orthodox) at Church last night told me she wished the Orthodox had contemporary Christian music to listen to outside of the liturgy...so perhaps its a mixed bag with the 20 somethings?

I do think many converts are afraid of it. They left their shallow wells and aren't interested in anything that has the potential of poisoning their new home in the Church. Now...if someone pulls out the "all about me" and "Jesus is my boyfriend" music...that might help a little. But many have tossed CCM out with sola scriptura and their copies of the Prayer of Jabez and Purpose Driven Life.

I remember when I was still Lutheran listening to Justin Mathews and wanting what he had. The music did help water that desire.

Anyway...best of success with this. I'll be listening.

Barnabas Powell said...

Both good comments.

As we work through these issues here at OCN, I am struck by the spiritual lessons that litter this process, if only we will have eyes to see them.

I am looking forward to the Christian I will be after my part in this discussion is done.

But, perhaps this is the ultimate reason for all of this.

saunca said...

Thanks for working so hard to create this option. I look forward to reading more about your progress at OCN.

Anonymous said...

"I do think many converts are afraid of it. They left their shallow wells and aren't interested in anything that has the potential of poisoning their new home in the Church..."

Bingo, Dixie! As a lifelong Lutheran - a church musician, no less! - entering Orthodoxy in just a couple of weeks, I find the notion very scary, for exactly the reason you name. Whether or not my fears have any basis in reality I am not sure. I just know that it's a very slippery slope - that's all.
-C

Anonymous said...

I actually spent some time at work today and listened... I enjoy it.. there are singers on here I never would have known about about.. and the light joy of the music is refreshing to the everyday blunder.. and oh the beauty of liturgical chat, I miss it..

Kristin

Barnabas Powell said...

You know, C, I share your concerns and trust that this will cause you to pray for us that we would be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves.

My one problem with the "slippery slope" argument is that it can be used to stop any initiative. Doing theology is risky. It always is. That's why we must excersize care, but never allow that care to descend into fear.

I am thrilled you are entering the Church, C, and I pray that your life in the Church is blessed and fruitful. I know it will be.

A fellow convert,
Barnabas

Stephen said...

I think the only danger faced by Orthodox Contemporary music is if it starts producing copy-cat, low quality music like what is happening in CCM. It is mainly because of these reasons that I have stopped listening to CCM, and if OCM follows, then I won't listen to that either. Granted, there are exceptions within CCM, and if you dig deep enough, or go back to the pioneers, or haunt the edges of CCM and even beyond, there are some really good bands. Personally, I really like Keith Green, Rich Mullins, Over the Rhine, Other Desert Cities, Lost Dogs, Kevin Max, Virgin Black. Alice Cooper even made a superb album back when he became a Christian (though I have no idea if he is still walking with the Lord). So yes, as long as the music is great, and the lyrics have meaning, I don't foresee a problem with OCM.

I also don't see a problem with OCM potentially replacing church music. Instead, I'd tend to see the two as complementing each other. I do enjoy worshipping with the Orthodox Church music, but I am also a part of this era, and outside of church I also enjoy listening and even worshipping through good contemporary music. Oddly enough, I've found that while I don't like worshipping in church with CCM, when I am by myself it is another story and there are certain songs that really express what I am feeling, and I can sing them with all my heart.

One question before I close. I actually haven't been able to listen to the Ark and hear what OCM sounds like because Windows Mediaplayer doesn't work on my Mac. I've tried downloading the Mac version of it, and this and that, and it won't work. I do have iTunes and RealPlayer, which work fine, so I am wondering if you could possibly provide the Ark though another player as well? Thanks, and congradulations for trying this new venture.

David Bryan said...

Well, as one who's blogged his (guarded) comments about The Ark, I'll step in.

First and definitely foremost: I think this needed to happen, for better or for worse, and I am so glad y'all have taken the initiative to do this. So thank you. Thank you very much, for exposing us to what's out there in terms of artistry, as well as putting something out there that helps us confront the issue of "What to do with modern music." I'll say that some of the COM I've heard is good. Nothing's knocked my socks off (yet), but we'll see!

Secondly--I think Dixie's hit the nail on the head regarding the convert reaction. While we're rather turned off by it, I think cradles might be a bit...confused?...by the whole endeavor, as it may not have ever been an issue for them one way or another.

Thirdly--I do wonder what the criteria are for determining which songs from non-Orthodox sources get played and which don't. "Breathe" (the "I'm desperate for you" song I referenced in my blog) was probably the last song I would have expected to hear on an Orthodox station. I do still wonder what the rationale was behind that.

Thor said...

I have not been able to listen to The Ark yet, so I'm not sure what range of music is being played there. It does seem that the descriptions of OCM artists tend to include "folk music" a lot, which loses my interest. I have a few CDs in my collection that contain Orthodox imagery, but the music is largely instrumental (Thymikon, EnGrave and The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus come to mind here). I do want to check things out in hopes that I can hear some OCM that has good lyrics and a sound that appeals to my tastes. Otherwise, I'll stick to Byzantine chant for my Orthodox "lyrical fix."