Sunday, July 18, 2004

praise and worship on I-4

People say Tampa Bay is not the Bible Belt, yet they have 5 Christian Radio channels before you get to 92.5 (which is a fascinating "redneck radio station" playing everything from Toby Keith to Sammy Hagar to Lynerd Skynerd and Hank Jr, but no Johnny Cash, of course). The only thing to break the monotony is one NPR station.
Last week, while driving to Lakeland to have lunch with an old friend(not really lunch since he is on a 21 day fast, but you get the idea) I realized that although I had brought my CD case I had forgotten my CD player. Tragic indeed (I had brought along Rich Mullins Jesus Album and John Coltrane's Love Supreme for the ride through Tampa traffic).
I had wanted to listen to something more "spiritual" than my usual driving music, so I tried the radio stations. Of course, nothing that had any theological depth was on any station. In fact, in the course of 10 minutes I heard heard the word "me" or "I" 10,000 times. Every song on Christian radio is basically the same song (me me me me me you God you God you God, really bad metaphor relating to Jesus which teters on heresy, me me me).
I cannot believe how bad the songs are. In twenty years I would think Christian music would be better.
Actually, "Christian music" was better. In my frustration I switched to a pop station (93.3, usually reserved for music I don't like) because I heard a Switchfoot song was coming up.
After 200 minutes of commercials, Switchfoot came on. I have heard We were Meant to Live for So Much More countless times. However, each time I am amazed at the theological depth this song expresses. Is it the fact that the song has no "Christianeze"? Is it the fact that the song expresses something more than "me me me"? I don't know. But, thank God for Switchfoot. I found myself close to tears listening to the song, thanking God for pop radio.
After Switchfoot, the wonderful Where's the Love by Black-Eyed-Peas reminded me that Christian thought is much more universal than Christian radio or the church allows. Here is a hip-hop group explicitly praying to God and asking where love is amidst war, poverty, violence, materialism and selfishness. I don't hear "Christian bands" usually expressing these Christian ideas.
Then, in what I can only call a miracle, Los Lonely Boys song Heaven came on. What is this?  3  spiritual (in fact Christian) songs, expressing deep longing for truth, love and eternity with God on a pop station? Deeper insight than I have ever heard on "Christian radio" in a 3 song set?
What could break up this time of secular praise and worship driving down I-4 on a Wednesday morning? Nothing, I think. Then Britney Spears' new ballad comes on and communion is violently broken. It actually sounded like something I had heard on Joy FM earlier.


g13 said...

welcome back, pastor. now, if you'll excuse me, i've got a new mercy me album to digest.

Anonymous said...

Though I've never been comfortable trying to express how God might choose to communicate with us at any given moment, I'm always happy for those circumstances when the light shines beyond what is accepted and comfortable... when the dots of our needs and questions are connected unexpectedly, revealing a larger view, a more compassionate heart... taken in faith as reminders that God is intimately involved in our mess, calling us to be do the same for each other.

james said...

"Shine Jesus Shine,
fill this land with the Fathers glory
Blaze Spirit blaze set our hearts on fire"

Rick, I really miss you. I know Boston is a chapter in the past, though should you truly consider KC or Minneapolis, please give beantown a thought or two.

Anonymous said...

rick -
it's sabrina, not anonymous...
i tried hard not to like switchfoot b/c they were 'Christian rock' or whatever, but the more ppl played the CD around me, well... I got the CD last month. That, along with Damien Rice, Kasey Chambers, and Patty Griffin has made for a decent musical summer. I heard "Where's the Love" when I got back from a summer in the Manila slums, and it was just so honest and real.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi and stuff, tell kristi I say hello... if you evere visit tx, lemme know. austin is a great town. :) i'm at