Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lenten Project: Day Twenty-eight

I've mentioned that Fundamentalists have some strange views on music.  Reading through my diaries a few days ago reminded me of an incident at Bob Jones University my sophomore year.  I'd brought with me some music recorded and produced by Pensacola Christian College, in addition to a lovely recording of a Bible Conference at a Fundy church in Singapore (pastored by a BJU grad, it received many visits from the Joneses).

Well, one day, I was playing these CDs in my dorm room, when my room's spiritual leader turned to me suddenly and accused me of failing to get them checked.  I told her I'd gotten them checked the year before, and they'd been approved.  Not good enough, she said.  I needed to get them rechecked each semester, according to what the dorm sup had recently told her.  (I did find out later that she and my dorm sup this particular semester were actively seeking ways to reprimand me--I got that straight from from the dorm sup herself at the end of the year when she advised me that I'd have to be under spiritual counseling the next year.  She said they were trying to remove my stubborn will and "break my spirit" of pride.)

Since the deadline for getting music checked had passed, I was in trouble for "failing to follow instructions."  My perfectly acceptable CDs were confiscated and I was slapped with a penalty of 20 demerits.  The dorm sup said she was being merciful by not giving me 50.  I wished she'd stuff it with the mercifulness.  I never did get those CDs back.

My parents' rules about music were very similar (though they'd allowed the PCC music without question).  While home on a visit after I was married, my mom caught me listening to Phillips, Craig, and Dean worship music.  It's CCM, and she gave back my earbuds with a look of disgust on her face.  "How could that possibly glorify the Lord, Hannah?"  I'm still surprised she didn't fuss over me letting my youngest sister have a listen, and that shock is probably why I remember the incident so vividly.

To a person who has been weaned on Patch the Pirate and classical music, anything "other" is not only different, but evil.  Majesty Music, the production arm of Patch the Pirate's musical ministry, actually teaches that music has morals, and any music not in keeping with their standards is wicked and from satan.

For me, as a missionary kid, receiving that message was confusing up against my experiences.  In Grenada, we'd clap along to hymns, sometimes even getting really into it and keeping rhythm, which is bad, according to Frank Garlock of Majesty Music. In his view, that sort of thing is the reason for the high divorce rate among Christians, among other evils.  In Singapore, the music could be ethnic and beautiful, but we saw it as strange and odd and only allowed hymns accompanied by piano in our church.  Those churches that went wild with drums, Asian instruments, and songs in other languages--not in hymn format--were worldly. I don't think I would have survived India, with its gorgeous music--I'd have been too busy judging everything as sin, based on the principles I'd been taught.

It's a sad way to view the world, let me tell you.  The disdain and disgust at beauty isn't very Christian, I've come to realise, and I still struggle to be more accepting and appreciative of the things I never knew growing up.  Ironically, I don't much care for CCM anymore, preferring old hymns in my church worship and liturgy.  But that doesn't mean I think churches who use modern Christian music are damned by God just for worshiping with that style of music. Letting go of such tight control of "what is pleasing to The Lord" lets me appreciate and even admire a lot of beautiful music I used to think was satanic. And guess what? A lot of it IS glorifying to God, after all! Even Nirvana, in a strange way. It's true.