God and Songwriting

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)

Just finished watching the film “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?” Interestingly, it’s a documentary made by two non-Christians about Christian Music and it was filmed mostly at the 2001 Cornerstone Festival. (In case you didn’t know, “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?” is also the name of a Christian song written by Larry Norman decades ago.)

Because the filmmakers are non-Christians, I had expected the movie to slam Christianity really bad. But surprisingly the movie is actually quite objective. Of course, Christian music, Christian musicians, and Christian music industry/subculture were targets of criticism in this film (you know, things like there’s a lot of bad-sounding Christian songs, or there are hypocritical Christian musicians, or the Christian music industry tries too much to imitate the mainstream industry, etc.) but almost all the slamming were done by Christian musicians. Thinking about it though, it makes sense. As a Christian musician, I know that we are usually very self-critical. Healthy self-criticism and true humility can remind us that we’re not here to idolize nor serve ourselves, but to serve the Lord. So in a way the film tells the world about the flaws of Christian music, and yet it also communicates the message that we’re different from secular musicians because we really don’t want any glory for ourselves and we just want to make sure we’re serving God all the time and not ourselves.

On the positive side, this film has some great quotes. I particularly like it when Reese Roper, (former) lead singer of Five Iron Frenzy, said to the audience before singing one of their songs: “I really feel like a lot of the bands say, ‘The Lord gave me this song’ and it’s [actually] a horrible song. I give you that this [next] song is a horrible song – but I love what the Lord has done with it”. It’s so true, because we try to credit God with writing a song for us, but (a) we’re just saying it because it sounds good to say it, and (b) it’s like we’re claiming half the glory by putting God’s word to paper and music. No, rather we should credit God fully for using an unworthy thing created by us unworthy people and then using it and transforming its impact to bless other people. That’s really giving God glory.

I recommend watching this documentary with a grain of salt. Also check out this interview of the filmmakers at Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/interviews/whinnahunter.html

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One thought on “God and Songwriting

  1. “I really feel like a lot of the bands say, ‘The Lord gave me this song’ and it’s [actually] a horrible song. I give you that this [next] song is a horrible song – but I love what the Lord has done with it”

    HAHAHA, how true

    of course, sometimes the Lord does inspire certain artists to write certain songs, but don’t say it when He didn’t… hehe

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