Thursday, March 24, 2011

Turning up a Prayer

Let me start by saying that I think this is an amazing song and an amazing video. The song has a very real, visceral, emotional edge, that is only heightened by the video. The interspersed cuts of fans adds an amazing human element, reinforces to the message the song is trying to get across, and enhances the overall experience of listening to the song.
I'll be the first to admit, I am not particularly discerning with the music I listen to. If I like how it sounds, and it doesn't come right out and offend me, I will probably listen to it. Judging from the number of christian teens that I see posting Lady Gaga lyrics in their Facebook statuses, I would venture to say that I am not the only one.
I don't attribute this to poor moral standards, ignoring Gods call for us to surround ourselves only with "whatever is pure" or anything sinful. Most people, Christian and non-christian, simply listen to the music they like, and rarely concern themselves with the message behind it. This is made easier and easier by the fact that nowadays you can write a song about hanging out in a club with all of your money, set it to dub step, and have ten million people buy it on iTunes. I'll reserve any critical remarks about this "phenomenon" for a later date, but it is pretty safe to say that when a large percentage of popular music ceases to mean much of anything, most people will probably tune out the music that does.
This brings me back full circle to "Closer to the Edge" by Thirty Seconds to Mars. As stated earlier, I love this song. And while I don't intend to really get to deep into the message of the song, it is basically a "be yourself, anything goes, lose yourself in the song, and for the love of God buy my album" ballad, I was struck by what the young lady at the end had to say. "Some people believe in God, I believe in music. Some people pray, I turn up the radio."
As Christians, I do not believe that we shouldn't listen to songs like this. As stated earlier, I think it is a very good song, and while the message is not very uplifting, I don't think it is particularly subversive. The issue arises when we no longer have the discernment to differentiate between the truth and the lies. What we do does matter, turning up the radio is not a prayer, and music is not a substitute for God.
I would challenge you to listen to some of your favorite secular songs, and focus on the lyrics. What do they mean? What is the artist trying to communicate? Why are they trying to communicate it? Are you strong enough in your faith to appreciate quality artistry and musicianship while recognizing that what the artist has to say is not consistent with Biblical truth?

Lucas J. Mason

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