Full Disclosure: I Love Secular Music (and Movies)

I hear about the issue occasionally, usually after a friend gets an issue of the magazine and starts asking me about a band like Fall Out Boy (their new one is so retro 80s you might feel a little sick to your stomach, so be careful – it comes out next Tuesday). These are friends who tend to buy everything on Tooth and Nail, play guitar in a worship band, follow cultural trends, and listen to Francis Chan religiously (ahem). It’s a "they are not legalistic, but they know people who are" sort of thing. My response is usually something along these lines:

So, do you only watch Christian movies? Because that means, in the last month or so, you could only watch Fireproof and maybe the DVD release of Narnia, which I believe is produced by a company partially run by Christians. And, by the way, do you only watch Christian television? You know, CCNN? (That’s Christian Cable News Network, which doesn’t actually exist but probably will someday.) Because if you have ever seen The Office, then you are violating your secular music principle. And, have you actually read any Christian literature? We are not talking James Joyce here. I have not even mentioned Christian gas stations yet.

And then I launch into some other insufferable sermonette, which quickly becomes my own personal diatribe. I get a lot of yawning and finger tapping.

And what is secular music anyway? And what is Christian music? Does it count if three guys in the band are Christians and one isn’t? Is The Fray more Christian than Fugazi, or less? Now that Bono was spotted vacationing with Penelope Cruz “ the guy has been married to his high school sweetheart since 1982 and met his wife in 1975 “ has U2 suddenly become off-limits for you? Are they ‘of the devil’ now? And how do we evaluate these Christians without really knowing them? Is there a litmus test for Christian music? And what the heck is litmus?

This is when they roll their eyes (all at the same time, which is weird).

See, I think we should evaluate media more. We should aggressively and ruthlessly judge what we do and see if it measures up to the standards and principles in the Bible. To make a rather dramatic example, I don’t watch pornographic movies, read pornographic novels, or listen to pornographic music. These are all bad.

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But, when it comes to a band like Okkervil River or Bon Iver, I have to wonder: aren’t these bands writing really compelling poetry set to music, and isn’t it okay to be captivated by immensely creative works? Why is it okay to like Juno and hate Gomez? (And that’s a bad example, because I actually hated the movie Juno; maybe I’ll explain a little why another time. Short answer: the creepy father character just really bugged me.)

Anyway, if you are going to be judgmental, at least be consistent. No more Disney movies for you! It’s all Janette Oaks from now on! Bring it on, Joyce Meyers!

-John Brandon

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