Friday, October 26, 2012
Because I listen to the words (Part 27)
They started a new slogan at my Christian radio station a while back. It irritated me in the way that these things usually do when I know they are created by nice people with good intentions who just don't think things all the way through. The first day they were trying out this new slogan, the DJ jovially identified the station call letters and then went on to say, "where you don't have to worry because the lyrics are safe for the kids."
Now, I know what this means; I speak evangelical enough to know that this means there is no swearing or talk about sex. I know this radio station prides itself on being family friendly, positive, uplifting, encouraging, etc. (I know this because they say it approximately 100 times a day.) The thing is, sometimes things that are positive and encouraging and safe for the kids due to the absence of swear words and sexytimes are things you still have to worry about because they're bad theology.
I mean, maybe it's not as embarrassing for your kids to publically sing the words to Citizen Way's "Should've Been Me" as, say, "Last Friday Night" by Katie Perry. * (See Note below.) But do you really want them unconsciously accepting the prosperity gospel nonsense "Should've Been Me" teaches? The song as a whole is not necessarily theologically face-palm worthy; the exception is the verse where the singer talks about how he lives in a nice house in a nice neighborhood with nice friends and a good wife and lovely children and how he feels bad that he often forgets that this is what Jesus died for. Upon mature reflection, I would like to believe that these lyrics are another example of people just not thinking it through (possibly because it's such a nice, bouncy song, and the rest of the message is good to think about), but . . .
My very first thought after I stopped being stunned and appalled was, "Really? You think Jesus died for your middle class yuppie American dream comfort and happiness? That's . . . wow. Really? How very sad." Because my Jesus died to take away the sins of the world and bring abundant life to the suffering victims of attempted genocide in Africa and the terrified, frequently injured in drug battles folks in South and Central America and the persecuted and imprisoned people in the Middle East and Asia and all manner of other humans who do not live middle class yuppie American dream comfortable and happy lives. He died to give us all the same thing: eternal life as adopted children of God and membership in a universal body of believers past and present.
The thing we all share is what Jesus died to give us, not the temporary comforts some of us have because the rain falls on the righteous and the wicked.
However, I can see why "where you don't have to worry because the lyrics are safe for the kids as long as you make sure they understand the lyrics and discuss any problematic theology with them to help them learn discernment" just doesn't roll off the tongue in quite the same simple, positive way. So of course we have to go with the one that's easier to say. (And then we wonder why people don't bother to try to listen to and understand Christians.)
I guess this should serve as a warning to those who don't already know that mindlessly consuming "Christian culture" doesn't necessarily have fewer pitfalls than consuming "secular culture." Just different ones. It's a reminder for those of us who are tired and weary and don't have the energy to deal with it. Maybe we can turn our brains off once we get to heaven, but we've gotta' leave 'em switched on down here. It's a fallen world, and there are lies everywhere, often cleverly and attractively disguised in wrapping paper of safety and comfort.
* (Or maybe you would. Maybe hearing your child mindlessly chirp the sad, reduced, lie of prosperity gospel in public would embarrass you more and lead to some good conversations with your kids. If so, way to be awesome!)