How Emergent is Your Christianity?

At the moment, I’m working through the book, “Why We’re Not Emergent” by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. To be honest, I’m only picking it up because David F. Wells wrote the foreword, and he’s a fantastic theologian, one of my favourites.

I’ve only finished the first chapter so far, so I have no particular opinion on the book so far. In the introduction though, there was something fascinating with how much of my form of Christianity is similar to the emergent Christianity described within the book. I admit I’m a bit of a hipster, but the correlations to emergent Christianity is interesting, almost when alternativeness is taken to an extreme and applied to theological epistemology.

DeYoung gives a long list of attributes which are somewhat generalised, but such measures are important when describing a diverse and somewhat undefined movement in Christianity. Then again, it is all the more dangerous because there is no single proponent of it, but a collective message of many pastors who are more subtle in their change. It is difficult to combat because there is no Le Corbusier, no Jean Paul Sartre, no Thomas Hardy, no one  pushing ambitiously the movement forward.

Anyway, the following quote is a checklist of sorts that I seem to somewhat fulfil most, which is kind of disparaging to me, for all my efforts to be not one of this group:

“You might be an emergent Christian:

If you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from the Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; if your reading list consists of primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Breannan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, david Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Franke, Walter Wink and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem; if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu; if you don’t like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage; if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant; if you search for truth but aren’t sure it can be found; if you’ve ever been to a church with prayer labyrinths, candles, Play-Doh, chalk-drawings, couches, or beanbags (your youth group doesn’t count); if you loathe words like linear, propositional, rational, machine, and hierarchy and use words like ancient-future, jazz, mosaic, matrix, missional, vintage, and dance; if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems legalistic naive and rigid; if you support women in all levels of ministry, prioritise urban over suburban, and like your theology narrative instead of systematic; if you disbelieve in any sacred-secular vide; if you want to be the church and not just go to church; if you long for a community that is relational, tribal, and primal like a river or a garden; if you believe doctrine gets in the way of an interactive relationship with Jesus; if you believe who goes to hell is no one’s business and no one may be there anyway; if you believe salvation has a little to do with atoning for guilt and a lot to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker; if you believe following Jesus is not believing the right things but living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about going to heaven instead of heaven coming to us; if you disdain monological, didactic preaching; if you use the word “story” in all your propositions about postmodernism – if all or most of this torturously long sentence describe you, then you might be an emergent Christian.”

How emergent are you? Does it worry you that your favourite blogger is seesawing on the fringes of emergent churchery?

What makes music Christian?

The past few months, I’ve been noticing my musical tastes have been changing.
My playlist that I listen to has always been predominant Christian music fullstop. I remember back in the day, well, it’s only 3 years ago, I bought my first album which was “Stay” by Jeremy Camp, and it still is one of my favourite albums, with a good balance between honesty and accessibility.

And still today I buy predominantly Christian music cds. Don’t blame me for being so cheap because people are turned off immediately because things are Christian.

What I’ve been finding that my tastes have changed perhaps with branching further and further away from CCM, to more alternative music. By alternative I mean a lot of things, I remember, the first metal album I picked up, “Dictohomy” by Becoming the Archetype, I admit I only bought it because it had a pretty cool album cover, then I moved onto Underoath, and among other things, to As Cities Burn with a more indie rock. Yet it all still fell within this larger group called “Christian music”.

Then I was set into all things indie, there was something raw about this genre. House of Heroes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cocorosie, Death Cab for Cutie Etc.

But lately, I’ve been moving into this kind of electronica/dubstep/drum and bass type of music with no lyrics. I totally blame Dan for this change. He never should have sent me drum and bass mixtapes. He is a horrible influence on my music tastes…=P

To describe it simply, it’s kind of club type music, well, maybe a bit more downbeat, but it’s quite popular within those circles. It is totally different to anything you’ll find on the Christian market, the closest I’ve heard is probably the new And Then There Were None album. I find it good in two ways:

  1. I’ve found that the producers are not usually signed onto a record label, so they would make what they want. You can find a lot of artists on, and (?) they release all their music on their own. Consequently, the music they create has a lot more artistic freedom and expression, because they are not constrained. A lot of the time as well, I notice that they can do whatever they want without being constricted in one specific box.
  2. Furthermore, they have this total freeing sense in the style of music. Drum and bass can be totally in your face, but at the same time it can be wildly reflective. Whereas in Christian music, i realise now that it’s the same, God’s love, God’s love, Jesus loves you, Jesus love you, peace, peace…blah blah. There is a totally disconnect between the creativity that God brings to the world, and the bland music that get played on the radio stations.

I’ve been finding myself worshipping God way easier with every bass-drop and every bit of freedom that Christian record labels do not allow. In fact, a lot of the Christian radio stations, seem to encroach their artists into one small box that they have to play in and write their lyrics in. It’s increasingly frustrating to me, to hear good artists being totally changed to sell more records. Tedashii is raps a verse in “Go Hard” which goes:

“Went to Asia, had to duck and hide to share my faith/They tell me to water it down when I get back to the States”

There is a disease in the Christian music market, namely the radio record companies that make perfectly good artists like Bethany Dillon, Jeremy Camp, Adie Camp…the list goes on…I’ve even been listening to Chris August recently, I get feel he’s a good artist, but he is tame in his debut EP. This turning into a rant about Christian music, so I’ll stop there.

So, I’ve been listening to all this music and I can worship God much easier, yet there is no indicator of whether it is made to worship God or the Devil. So, as a consequence, I’ve been thinking, is the lyrics all that defines Christian music? I mean the removal of lyrics makes the music meaningless in discernment of whether something is Christian or not. Does this indicate that what is Christian music and not, is mere speculation until confirmation by the original artist, but does that make it Christian still?

Oh, here’s a song, because I can. I ❤ dubstep so I uploaded this track, if I could remove Rihanna, I would. The dubstep is glorious though:

You can download it too…if you’re desperate! I have some other tracks up, of which none are mine. Full props to the original artist.