Christian Music--Embedding Jesus in Your Head

Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy, Second Chapter of Acts, John Fischer, The Way, Oak Ridge Boys, Elvis, "Gospel," holy hymns, church choirs, "sacred" music, Young Life Songs and Creations spiral songbook. . .it was, and is, an endless composition of brain-saturation.  I listened to countless hours of it, went to concerts, bought the albums, met some of the "artists" like Stonehill, Fischer, Barry McGuire, Yohann Anderson and others.  Believe it or not, I once sang in an 8000-voice choir at a Billy Graham Crusade in Seattle! I sang in a church choir and in the chapel choir at my christian college.  I was basically addicted to "God's music" and rarely listened to anything else (except Carole King, James Taylor, John Denver and a bit of YES).  Yes, pretty poor for the seventies, with all that great rock and roll. . .then again, I was a Jesus Freak ready and waiting to get to heaven to be with The Master as soon as possible. Can anyone relate to this?  Godness, I hope so. 

 

I would be fascinated to hear from others in the non-theist community who continue to be "haunted" by the music, the songs, the "message" that plays endlessly from that era.  Were you ever in the Christian Music culture?  Amazing how it saturates your brain.  Yes, there were some catchy tunes and some powerfully emotional words. . .with some awful theology and fearfully brain-damaging lyrics. Thankfully I emerged from the emotional cloud sometime around college when I studied philosophy and world religions, but I have to admit, there are songs that still creep back, I smile or cringe or change the words to make them relevant to a non-supernatural worldview, or let them fade.  Any comments? 

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Tags: choir, christian, church, gospel, music, songs

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Comment by Jeremy Raines on June 28, 2011 at 7:02am

I may have a different take on this. As a musician and former Evangelical, I understand and appreciate the "soundtrack" of my indoctrination. It took me a few years of estrangement, but I was eventually able to enjoy CCM and Southern Gospel as art forms separate from any religious meaning. I have even bought a few albums in recent years, although I prefer to "lift" songs from the internet to avoid funding ministries. In short, enjoy whatever music you like, regardless of the message. Rational thought is the ultimate cure for brain-washing.

Also, I'm certainly checking out The Humanist Hymnal. Thanks Grinning Cat.

Comment by Grinning Cat on June 14, 2011 at 12:44pm
Sometimes favorite tunes can be reclaimed with new words. Jerry Phillips' site The Humanist Hymnal has some good reworkings of Christmas carols and other hymns and songs. Some are overtly antireligious or anti-Christian; others stress positive humanism. Check out The Evolution Chorus!
Comment by Darrel Ray on June 14, 2011 at 10:48am

If you haven't already, take a look at my video on Youtube.Music in worship services  It deals with some of your question and observations.  I also talk about how music works in a chapter of The God Virus. 

Darrel, founder of Recovering from Religion and author of The God Virus.

Comment by Rhonda Boyer on June 12, 2011 at 3:13pm

I saw Debby Boone and her family at one of the sports stadiums in KC when I was a kid.  My mom had all the christian and gospel music anyone could ever hope to hear. 

Then, later, I was exposed to the "all music except hymns are tools of the devil" movement.  Reading lyrics that were specially selected to make sure they sufficiently shocked everyone in my local Baptist church.  As I look back on it now, I think it is funny how some of the things they taught back then had great shock value, and were intended to scare us into continued belief in some pretty unbelievable things. 

I remember some religious movies at the time that were pretty scary too.  The whole Thief In The Night  series made me too scared to even miss church for a while.  Glad I got over it....

Comment by Round Peg on June 12, 2011 at 11:28am

When pieces of a Christian song play through my mind, it's like finding something I owned from long ago, no longer useful or relevant, but a reminder of who I was in the past. The songs I remember best are the ones that really resonated with my personal experiences and how I felt and thought about the world. Such as...

Obnoxious rock and roll songs about evangelism by the newsboys.

An intriguing song called soul by sixpence none the richer about a troubled Christian woman wondering whether her deceased father made it into heaven or not.

A plethora of worship songs from various artists that would sometimes bring tears to my eyes.

When Christian songs come into my head, I "listen" to them, remember why they were important to me, and let them go. We were who we were, and I think it's reasonable for us to accept that some traces of our Christian upbringings will follow us throughout our atheist lives. Even pieces of our old favorite tunes!

 

Cheers,

Round Peg

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