Thursday, September 25, 2008

Celebration Arts Make Me Cringe

Okay, before any HATE comments are posted, or I am in anyway criticized by an Evangelical for poking fun at 'Sacred Art' (dripping sarcasm) I want to make a point that most people make when they are believers and are about to skewer other believers... I happen to be a Christian, and have been one for longer than I can remember. I have also worked in the Church. I have been an associate youth pastor, I have done theater arts for churches, I've been on mission trips, I even rode a bike for Jesus in my youth. So, if anyone has the credentials to criticize the Christian Church (or the Christian Ghetto, as an old Professor at APU used to call it) for their poor forays into 'celebration arts', It is me. Below is a heavy selection of videos, that indicate what I find wrong with how a large number of Churches approach the concept of melding Pop Culture influences with the gospel message... the result as you can see is... not so great.

The first example is a video of a band (or program, I can't tell) called "SonSeed". The song they are singing is called, "Jesus is my Friend". I have no problem with the message. I have no problem with the title of the group or song. I do have a problem when 8 honkeys (hey that's racist) rip off ska music and do not have the common courtesy to get tatooed up and shave their heads and bleach there hair blonde ala "Sublime". I would like to point out the awesome bass solo in this video as well as the balding man in the back up singers, who is either falling asleep or hates the fact he was forced to wear a polyester vest. This is a case of what I like to call pop culture bastardization that the Church loves to take part in. We cannot just enjoy Ska music for the fact it makes us happy. We feel guilty this music does not contain a Christian message, SOOO I know! Let's make Christian Ska music. But since we know nothing about it, it will probably suck, but don't worry, we're righteous because we were able to say the word Jesus 73 times in the song, so everyone has to like it. Enjoy!

Our second example comes from a video called "The Renewed Mind". Apparently that is the name of this song. The church group is called "The Way". Once again like our previous example, the whitest of the white people have decided to use a little dash of hip hop to spice up the worship presentation. What more they also commit cardinal sin # 2 for bad 'celebration arts', the incorporation of Dance into a Church service. This is never a good idea. There are some choirs who can pull this off on occasion with some coordinated swaying, but when actual dance routines are placed into a portion of the service it just makes everyone uncomfortable. I was once involved in a church where an associate pastor wanted to use Dance in the services on a regular basis. So, they tried it and a woman was asked to come up with a routine for some hymn. She performed it. However, the problem here was she wore a tight fitting leotard. Common wear for a ballet trained dancer. Of course high lighting the female form can risk lighting the loins of parishoners. This lead to a complaint from some of the older members of the church, so a new rule was put in place. She had to dance in a choir robe. I want to point out that Dance is about watching the human form move and appreciating how we can do amazing things with our bodies. That's hard to do, when you put the human form in what amounts to a really pretty sack. The folks in the video below do not have that problem, but none the less their execution of their HIP HOP version of "The Renewed Mind" is less than acceptable. Like, me you may watch this and ask, why do the women have hand held microphones, and the man has a head set microphone... my response to you is... watch and find out!

Example number 3 is one of my favorites. It not so much about poorly executing the arts, but another favorite of the Church. Using a celebrity to add validation to the point of the pastor. It's like coming up with a great argument for why Faith Based Organizations should receive some Federal Support when they engage in activities to better society, like poverty or health care, then having Brad Pitt walk out and say, "I agree whole heartedly." However, in the case of the video below, we're trying to poke holes in the logic of aetheism vs creationsim by using a Banana to depict intelligent design (WTF) and to prove the validity of our point, we've asked 80's teen heart throb Kirk Cameron to sit in a chair next to us. Awesome!

Another example of Bad Celebration Arts can be found below. It pretty much speaks for itself, just give it a watch. If you can make it all the way through without your brain oozing out of your ears, you are more man than I am. This is an example of a very common mistake. Thinking that someone's passion for Christ translates into an ability to sing. It does not.

Okay, Okay, What is my point? It's really simple. If you can't do something right, or more importantly with any semblance of proficiency and that something has to do with music, dance, theater or anything where the word arts can be attached... don't do it at all! It does not enlighten the congregation or bring them closer to the Lord. It distracts them and makes them wonder why they are missing the Packers Game to come see this. Then when the donation plate is passed around, they put away the check book and reach for the spare change in their pocket.

1 comment:

dennis baker said...

As my high school English teacher said, sometimes a banana is just a banana. Apparently no one told that to Kirk Cameron.