Joe Carter points out a dangerous decline in the lyrics of teen music today. (Note: Though the descriptive language employed is not gratuitous, this sober assessment may not be appropriate for children.)
(HT: Tim Challies)
Archives for August 2006
I would agree with those who believe in the moral neutrality of musical genres. God or the devil can be glorified by classical music, depending on whether it is produced and enjoyed by hearts that prize God or hearts that prize human achievement or self-reliance. And although much of the rap music culture is filled with sex and violence, the musical style itself does not necessarily engender such sinful expression. I once read an outstanding article on this subject by Dr. Harold Best, Dean of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. It described how a man ran out of a church service after hearing the prelude of the organist. He ran out because that was the exact piece of music used in a satanic ritual of which he took part prior to being marvelous won to Christ. The music? A piece of classical music by J.S. Bach (a Christian). I forgot the details of the article, but I never forgot the point. A style of music that feels worshipful to me may not necessarily encourage or edify another person. I am told that Dr. Best discusses this in his book Music Through the Eyes of Faith. (Note: This does not mean that all songs are created equal. God-centered, theologically-rich lyrics and quality within a musical genre are both important, in my opinion.)
With that as introduction, I want to join those who are commending the music of Curtis Allen, who goes by the name Voice. I have really enjoyed listening to his CD Progression. His songs are theologically rich and have catchy phrases and beats — even for someone like me, who really never enjoyed rap music. Curtis describes his project Progression in this way:
Progression is an album that I wanted to make that I considered to be a “Very Human” album. Sometimes Christian music can lack the everyday struggle of the Christian or can easily gloss over the problem and go right to the solution, but that is not always the case in real life situations. Sometimes we doubt God’s Sovereignty, and I wanted to capture that on the album. It has 14 songs, and the album progresses. So it starts off with faith in Christ and excitement in being like him in the world. Then after a few songs you get to a bit of unbelief and complaints about the very thing you were celebrating in the first few songs. Then in “Contemporary Job,” like the book of Job, God addresses those complaints with His perspective. After that the Christian is refreshed and is ready to again fight sin in “Divide and Conquer” and so forth. So I see Progression as the Christian life in many ways. We all face doubts and encouragement and I wanted to have that element on Progression. (in an interview with Justin Taylor, posted here)
I commend Curtis Allen’s project Progression to you for the edification, relaxation, and worship it can stimulate in your heart.
Time Magazine looks at the behind-the-scenes campaign that Senator Hillary Clinton is already mounting for the White House. Could she win? May it never be.
On the ten-year anniversary of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, passed by a Republican-led Congress and enacted by President Bill Clinton, Rich Lowry notes reasons to celebrate, while Douglas J. Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute sounds a more cautionary note, pointing to the need for further improvement.
(HT: Justin Taylor)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, formerly a member of the Dutch parliament, and writer of the controversial film Submission, is now with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington, D.C. Her 12-minute film powerfully examines domestic violence in Islamic households. Ali was a guest on CBS 60 minutes this evening.
Ali has written a book entitled The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam in which she examines the question of “whether the roots of evil [referring to the 9/11 attacks] can be traced to the faith I grew up with: was the aggression, the hatred inherent in Islam itself?”
Her story is interesting given the irony of a former representative of a very “liberal” country now working for a “conservative” organization. It is also a noteworthy contrast between depictions of women’s worth and dignity in the Koran versus the Bible (not that Ali is a Christian, to the best of my knowledge).
Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, has written an incisive, penetrating essay called Is the Mainstream Media Fair and Balanced? in the August, 2006 issue of Imprimis, a monthly digest of Hillsdale College. His thesis:
My topic today is how the mainstream media—meaning nationally influential newspapers like the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today; influential regional papers like the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times; the broadcast networks and cable news stations like CNN; and the wire services, which now are pretty much reduced to the Associated Press—stacks up in terms of the latter two journalistic standards, fairness and balance. In my opinion, they don’t stack up very well.
Barnes observes that “Polls of the Washington press corps….about who they voted for in 2004 always show that nine-to-one or ten-to-one of them voted Democratic.”
Though there are many fine conservative journalists, they are almost never hired by the mainstream media (MSM). There are many more liberal commentators on FOX than conservatives on other stations, Barnes notes. The result is that “only the mainstream media still has the power to make stories big.” Barnes recounts the Cindy Sheehan story last summer as an example. The story was huge in the MSM, even though Sheehan assigned credibility to the Iraqi insurgency by naming those maiming, beheading, and killing innocent civilians as “freedom fighters.”
A more recent example is the coverage of the NSA surveillance leak story. Rather than expressing concern over the breach of confidentiality and the potential impact on national security (which is all they say about the Valerie Plame issue), the media mischaracterizes the story as a “domestic spying scandal.” Nevermind that those being spied on are Al-Qaeda members overseas using the telephone to speak to people in the U.S.
When liberals express outrage, they are “criticizing.” However, in the Clinton era, his critics were demonized as “Clinton haters.” Though there were certainly Clinton haters on the fringe right, the point remains that nobody today is ever labelled a “Bush hater,” even though that is clearly what some folks are.
Barnes goes on to examine religious and partisan bias. Bush is considered “extremely religious” because he reads his Bible daily and prays. Nevermind the fact that millions of Americans also do that. Meanwhile Paul Kengor found that President Clinton quoted the Bible and mentioned God and Jesus Christ more than President Bush, who (in public discourse) says relatively little about his faith. Kengor discusses this and more in his book God and George W. Bush: A Spiritual Life.
With regard to partisan bias, Barnes notes that Robert Lichter (President of the Center for Media and Public Affairs) found that no presidential candidate has received more favorable treatment from the broadcast media than John Kerry (over the course of Lichter’s 20 years of experience in accessing broadcast news for bias). Kerry received 77 percent favorable coverage in the stories regarding him on the three broadcast news shows. For Bush, it was 34 percent. Two noteworthy examples are the lack of coverage of the Swift Boat vets (uncovering faulty claims to Vietnam war heroism on Kerry’s part) and Dan Rather’s flawed report on President Bush’s (supposed) preferential treatment in the Texas National Guard.
Barnes’s essay, in its entirity, is well worth the read.