Lame Poetry, False Dichotomies, and Bad Theology

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Steve Newman's picture

We need more folks to stand up to this kind of garbage...

handerson's picture

I've had this video posted all over my page on FB too. Tired, tired, tired of people jumping off one bandwagon only to climb on the next.

I do appreciate the frustration that leads people to respond so enthusiastically to his message, but this is not the solution. The whole predicament reminds me of Malachi's harsh condemnation of Israel's priests and their religious structures. Except that, his response was hope that God would send the Messiah to purify the sons of Levi so they would offer pure sacrifices, not the simply abolishing religious structure.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

A few people commented on FB about the guy rapping, but I pointed out that rapping is no worse than hacking IMO. I think both are inane and distracting.

I agree with Hannah, that people latch onto stuff like this in frustration, but most of the time our frustration is because we are using the Word as a magnifying glass and not a mirror. What do we tolerate in ourselves that we find objectionable in others? There's the rub.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I would coin it 'the death of the attention span'. Why can't people present and absorb truth without having it packaged in something slick, or humorous, or bombastic... Whenever someone is 'waving their arms around', it makes me wonder what illusion they are attempting to perform.

Charlie's picture

Susan R wrote:
I would coin it 'the death of the attention span'. Why can't people present and absorb truth without having it packaged in something slick, or humorous, or bombastic... Whenever someone is 'waving their arms around', it makes me wonder what illusion they are attempting to perform.

I think this is unfair. Unless we know for sure that such is the case, we should not assume that modes of delivery other than straightforward speaking or writing are refusals to use such methods. Rather, the more likely explanation is that a person talented in a particular art wishes to use it to convey something personally important to him or her. Painters convey messages, as do musicians, playwrights, and comedians. None of these media are inherently incapable of conveying serious and even spiritual truth (although the use of comedic medium must be seen as irony). In fact, I would argue that in a healthy Christian culture, all of them should be. Moreover, they cannot replace each other. A sermon cannot replace a song, nor a painting a sermon.

One of the problems that I think continually arises in Christian discourse is the opposition of high culture to popular culture. High culture can be good or bad; popular culture can be good or bad. Both have a valid place in the life of a person. I don't think we gain anything by pooh-poohing popular culture and elevating high culture. I would argue that slam is a form of popular culture, and thus cannot be the death of art, unless some were to confuse the popular with the sum total. Even then, it wouldn't be the art form's fault. If the slam fails to resonate with you, Susan, I don't blame you. It just shows that slam isn't a part of your popular culture. Thus, the motions and other characteristics that frequent listeners would find natural and even helpful are distracting to you.

I might go even farther and say that a case can be made for (some types of) rap being the ideal musical vehicle for communicating doctrinal ideas. No other form of music of which I am aware has such density of lyrics; outside the mainstream radio, it is a common vehicle for ordinary urban citizens to express their hopes, fears, and perspectives on life.

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Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

handerson's picture

is this even good "slam" -- I'd venture... no. It's off ever so slightly and the word choices contrived.

Regardless of the medium (and our opinions as to what is appropriate), we Christians really need to pick up the pace. I notice that a lot of Christian art (from books to movies to music) gets a pass simply because its "Christian."

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Charlie wrote:
Susan R wrote:
I would coin it 'the death of the attention span'. Why can't people present and absorb truth without having it packaged in something slick, or humorous, or bombastic... Whenever someone is 'waving their arms around', it makes me wonder what illusion they are attempting to perform.

I think this is unfair. Unless we know for sure that such is the case, we should not assume that modes of delivery other than straightforward speaking or writing are refusals to use such methods.


I don't have any objections to the use of popular culture to convey a Scriptural message, but I am concerned about the preference for and abundance of these methods. The dumbing down of education has IMO leaked into the church, in that folks can't seem to pay attention without constant and varied sensory stimuli. Also, some methods are distracting, such as the aforementioned hacking. When someone's method of delivery distracts from the message, in that it calls as much or more attention to itself as to the content, then we need to examine if it's worth it. I think not- and this video is IMO a great example of 'the slam is quicker than the neuron'.

Mike Durning's picture

Some of the criticisms here do stick. It was not, however, a treatise, intended to be read at a symposium. It was a persuasive speech.
I thought it was pretty good.

Pros:
1). A lot of this is what Jesus said to the Pharisees.
2). You might hate to hear it said about your church -- and it may not be true of your church. But think about it being said of someone who is steeped in ritualistic religion, such as the worst examples of Catholicism. It says what they need to hear.
3). While it may not be true of your church as a whole, it addresses the hypocritical in all of our churches. They need to hear stuff like this.
4). The item about wars started in the name of religion needs to be addressed. The Atheists use this because it sticks. The answer is sinful men will twist anything to their cause -- self-aggrandizement. And no topic has been so easy and useful to twist as religion. And that is because of the hypocrites out there who only wear a veneer of religion.
5). The word "religion" in the New Testament is not unwaveringly positive. It is frequently used in connection with warnings or with challenges about being sincere. Take a look:

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Similarly for the word "piety" (though translated religion in some translations):
I Tim. 5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

Cons:
1). The problem with this is that I can also see struggling believers in good churches using it to justify on-going sin struggles. They're not hypocrites. They are what they are. So let all those struggles hang out -- only hypocrites will object. Actually, they should be honest AND work on the problems through His grace in sanctification.
2). The other problem is that the target of his criticism (those he is complaining about) are a caricature that occurs only rarely (I hope). Stodgy church members who look down on everyone who isn't "perfect, like them", but in reality harbor secret sins. I have met very few of these (thankfully). Where I do run across them, they're not going to be listening to this guy's advice.