Rock On!

Last night I went to a Christian rock concert. I haven’t been too active on the weekends lately, and a friend called me up and asked if I wanted to go. I said "sure" mainly because I hadn’t seen Steve in awhile and, to quote Golden Girl Sophia Petrillo (describing her village in Sicily), "what else is there to do in this God-forsaken town??" I was pretty open, but wondered how well this Catholic would enjoy such an evening.

Toddagnew_1I enjoyed the opening act quite a bit. I found out that they don’t even get paid for their services. That seems unfair to me, especially for a Christian tour.

The second artist, Todd Agnew was my favorite (photo on left). He and his band produced some quality songs, both lyrically and musically. He gave a mini-sermon that challenged the audience to not put Christian musicians on a pedestal. He also attacked those who would divide churches over music styles. He was speaking out against a lot of what I saw before I left the "contemporary" church I once attended. He reiterated Jesus’ words: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." In other words, having enough money to buy all of your favorite Contemporary Christian CDs (or classical or whatnot) but not having enough to help out a homeless person shows a lack of true worship. He also spent a lot of time hammering home the importance of taking to heart the lyrics to the hymns and songs you are singing.

The final act was my least favorite (and they were the headliners). The lead vocalist was trying to get the audience emotionally roused the whole time, and he suggested "punching with love" those of us who weren’t jumping up and down (to get us jumping I guess).  With everybody jumping up and down (including baby-boomers whose feet barely left the floor), it looked like a junior high dance mixed with a secular rock concert. I just didn’t feel any splendor or awe, just pressure to get emotional. Before playing one of their most popular songs, the lead vocalist went on about King David acting in an undignified way when the ark had been returned to Jerusalem, and basically used that moment to get on Christian leaders who have stifled the weird behavior of holy free-spirits. Of course after every sentence came the plea for an "amen" from the audience. I think he could have said "you all are fat pigs….AMEN??" and he still would have gotten a lot of "amens" in return.  Of course, what he failed to mention was that King David danced practically naked in the story he was telling. I told Steve that if the lead singer took his clothes off, I was gone!

The song that followed this speech had lyrics that went like this:
There’s a place where religion finally dies,
there’s a place where I lose my selfish pride…

I disagreed with the theology behind these lyrics. This theology posits the old false dichotomy of "relationship versus religion" that never made sense to me, even while I was Protestant. Our word religion comes from the Latin religio, which means "worship," "awe," "holiness," "ritual," etc. I don’t see why these are bad things at all. Why should any of these things die? Perhaps "ritual" is the evil meaning here. However…what about the ritual of jumping up and down to this band’s songs? I wasn’t into that particular ritual, and I was told to get ritualistic or get punched (I know he was joking, but the social pressure was the same). About this point, Steve and I left for hot wings. I did enjoy the evening though. I had a good time and learned a thing or two as well. Plus, I enjoyed seeing people of all ages have fun without resorting to harmful or immoral behavior.

Image from: http://home.hiwaay.net/~katies/