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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music?

This is actually the title of a Larry Norman song. I don't know if you remember him. A christian folk/rock singer songwriter who was prominent in the 1970's especially. Norman was an eccentric visionary whose songs drew controversy from both the conservative religious establishment and the secular music press for his lyrical mix of radical religious, political, and social themes.He is known as the father of Christian rock and in 1972 released a record called Only Visiting This Planet which is widely regarded as one of the best of its genre.

A song from that record posed the question, Why should the devil have all the good music? It was Norman's protest against the belief which was common in conservative Christendom that rock and roll was Satanic.

Here's a sample of this anti rock sentiment:The demonic source of rock and roll music with its adverse emotional, physical and spiritual effect upon people is all too evident. The erotic, sensual effect of the rock and roll beat is purposely calculated to arouse lust, the revolutionary theme of rock music often advocates violence, the repetitious beat of rock and roll produces an ecstatic state akin to a trance and there is a close relationship between drug use and rock and roll. Get the picture? The man who wrote these statements, Hobart E. Freeman plainly doesn't like rock and roll. As a Christian, I am embarrassed by his comments. But it gets worse. According to Freeman, Christian rock music is simply a tool of Satan to corrupt and destroy today's youth. It is a compromising alliance with the world against the Kingdom of God.

I wonder if there are still narrow minded Christians who think like this. God forbid the existence of ministers who ban their congregation from watching non Christian movies, listening to non Christian music and reading non Christian books. The sacred/secular divide is a contrivance of graceless men. It is a totally false dichotomy. And to suggest that Christians and even non Christians cannot express truth and give glory to God through rock music is ridiculous. God is not limited by legalistic labels.

It is hard for some people to believe that I could enjoy listening to a band like Lamb of God. Even the name is an insult to Jesus, isn't it? Lamb of God sing songs which are anti-religion, not anti-Christ. Jesus himself is anti-religion so surely its okay for a man to sing/scream about the hypocrisy that he has experienced in the church probably from preachers like Hobart E. Freeman. There are countless other examples but the point is that Larry Norman's question must be answered with the words: he shouldn't have all the good music and in fact, he doesn't.

God invented music. It is an amoral tool which is used for a variety of purposes in our society. Some good, some bad. If rock music can be used to proclaim good news, rescue the lost, open the eyes of the blind, and set prisoners free, then how can it be labelled Satanic? Right minded, grace filled people know this to be true.

As Larry said, "I want the people to know that He saved my soul but I still like to listen to the radio."

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