Sunday, December 19, 2004

And now for something completely different...

The horrible thing about having a job is the enormous chunk of your life it takes up. I hate how weekdays are effectively shot to bits and how I'm only left with 2 days a week to read the bible, write bible studies, meet up with people, Run Christmas Shopping... Good time management aside, there’s only so much you can fit into a day.

Cantonese at Hua Ting was a great relief from the recent gout-inducing diet. We were sandwiched between clipped British-Singaporean accents in polo shirts and chinos discussing the effects of their latest social experiment on the plebians and a couple of Indonesian tai-tais resting from a successful shopping exercise. Good time to butt in and talk about the gospel...I've always wondered how far you can push social convention (especially in an Asian society) to fulfil your goal of telling people the good news. How much would come across so seow-on that you'll scare people away from hearing the gospel and from any other Christian thereonafter?

Spent a few hours at a quiet Christian bookshop running through their entire collection of CDs. It was difficult to find any as Christmas gifts. It isn't a matter of toe-ing the official evangelical partyline. Personally, much "Christian" music doesn't do anything for me.

Without mentioning names, there's the sort of "Christian" music that avoids mention of God or Jesus altogether and sings obliquely about love. I get bored with those at first listen. Alot of expressly secular music is groovier.

Then there's the sort of "Christian" music that's so vague you're not quite sure whether they're singing about
their girlfriend/boyfriend, the married woman they just ran away with or mother earth. Those are really empty, like eating loads of rancid plain wafers which can't contain your hunger.

Some others sing of God, but seem to be making endless demands on him in song: bless us now, fill us now, prosper me now, reveal yourself to me now, speak to me now, all which makes me very pai se.

Then there are the songs with response lyrics: words that say how we want to dance and sing and sacrifice our lives to God. Which really sound almost like the sort of thing you hear from the human resource department at a really inspiring pep-talk session or a fiery stadium cheer in World Cup match. The reason for doing such cult-like things is rarely explained, so you could substitute the words "God" and "Jesus" with "[company name]" or "[name of favourite sports team]" and no one would be any the wiser. Because it's about all about over-the-top commitment and strong emotion, it doesn't help me when I don't feel like responding in this way (so I can't honestly sing the lyrics of the song, but I *can* honestly sing Linkin Park and Evanescence) and neither does it help anyone else in knowing what these people are responding to.

There're those which praise God for his power, mercy, love and goodness which would make a non-Christian go "Har? For what?" but which Christians (and Catholics, since the lyrics are usually vague in that regard) can enjoy; like some of the songs by the Coldplay-sounding Newsboys.

I liked some of the Casting Crowns songs for social Christian commentary. Good reminders about the practical day-to-day living out of the Christian life. Caedmon's Call did what I didn't think anyone would do and wrote a song on Romans 3 (there is no one who is righteous, no one who seeks God, no one who understands, so it is by faith that we are saved not by works so that no one can boast...)! Found out that Stuart Townend wrote rather good stuff like "In Christ Alone", "Beautiful Saviour" and "How Deep the Father's Love" that gives you the gospel and solid ground to stand on, then leads you to react in the appropriate manner.

A few years ago, Steve Camp wrote 107 Theses (a la Martin Luther) calling for a reformation of the contemporary christian music industry. Quite interesting though it isn't very well-written and many of the Scriptural references are out-of-context. Not quite sure what impact this has had on the industry (the impact of Luther's theses was powerful then due to your usual politics-uses-religion-as-convenient-weapon situation) but certainly something to think about.

Egad. Are emu offerings and Hwee's CD the only Christian music around worth putting in Christmas stockings?

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