Re-thinking Convictions – Part 1 of 3

What would you think if I told you I liked rap? How about if I said I was seriously considering putting a Harry Potter book on my to-read list? And what if those were true?
Because they are.
I like extremes. I like life to be black and white. I like convictions to come in “yes” and “no” not “under certain circumstances.”
But I’m learning that while Truth is absolute and we’re either for Him or against Him, there’s also something called Christian liberty. Now, this post is not going to be anything along the lines of ‘do whatever you want.’ We don’t have an excuse to sin, and Christian liberty should never be liberty to sin (see Romans 6 and 7). What this post is is the fruit of realization that sanctification is humbling and sometimes requires a change in convictions that you held to very adamantly.

The questions I started this off with are true. I do like (some) rap. The first Harry Potter book is on my reading list. I want to tackle these two issues one at a time. As far as music goes, some convictions have changed. As far as Harry Potter goes, convictions have not changed, but application has. It’s hard to know where to begin, but I guess it starts a few weeks ago at a birthday party. The “olders” as Andrew calls us – meaning him, Nate, me, Luke, and sometimes Rachel and Hannah – were sitting around talking about all sorts of stuff for hours.

One thing we discussed was music. We’d talked another day about the book “Worldliness,” and the chapter on music. I was convicted that my musical tastes were really limited – and wondered, yet again, if my dislike for much other than classical and Michael Card was because of taste or moral. I had listened to some Lecrae earlier that week to ‘expand my palette,’ not expecting to like it or change any convictions, but to at least be able to converse about it and have some idea of what it sounded like. I’ve always liked Lecrae’s words, and from what I’ve heard, his stage presence is honorable, not like some “Christian” artists (and let’s draw the line once for all: being an artist who IS a Christian does not make you a Christian artist. The difference between, say, Eisley and Michael Card).

I didn’t care for Lecrae a whole lot. But when it came up at the birthday party, I was able to give an opinion on it. Then Andrew said he had a CD I should listen to. It was by a man named Shai Linne and it was called “The Attributes of God.” Shai Linne was a rapper, he said, but a little ‘softer’ than Lecrae. Okay, I thought, I’ll give it a shot. He loaned me the lyric booklet a week later, and I started flipping through it. Most of the words were straight out of scripture, and they weren’t full of slang – they were solid words. And I thought ‘I’ll listen to what he sounds like.’ I pulled up Grooveshark and typed in “Shai Linne Attributes of God,” and listened for about half an hour, then listened to a few songs from other CDs. Normally I don’t listen to music for that long, especially stuff like rap. But this was different. The words were forefront, the background wasn’t just a beat, but had musical beauty to it. And the words were SO SOLID – Lecrae’s are, too, but Mr. Linne’s didn’t have slang and brought the listener up to a higher theological level instead of bringing the theology down, which is what I feel like Lecrae does (not that that’s wrong; it has its place). I said to myself “I like this,” then looked around wondering if I’d really said it, but it was true.
I couldn’t listen to his music while I’m writing, like I can other music. It’s not really background music (though I’m trying to have less and less of background music and only focus on the task before me).
But I really liked it. I’m not sure I’d call it music, though, since it doesn’t have a melody. So I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I like it (daddy was talking about coining a new phrase and calling it a “thant” – theological chant).
I’m sure some of you who know me better have lots of questions. “I thought Kyleigh didn’t like that stuff” “I thought it was more than preference” “What about the beat? What about the history? What about….?”

Let me tell you, my 30-some page convictions document on my computer has been open a lot lately, as has my Bible, just as I have been praying a lot – for clarity, for grace, and, if necessary, humility.
I listened to two lectures from a homeschool conference about music. I went into it nodding, thinking I was going to agree with everything and already knew what he would say. Daddy had told me some about the lectures already, so I kind of knew what to expect, and thought I’d agree.
But as I was listening, I kept seeing points where his argument broke down – and realized the weakpoints in how I used to argue my no-rock opinion. It’s interesting how something meant to sway your opinion in one direction can work to sway it in another. I wish I’d been there to ask him some questions, because I had a lot for him. I’ll get into those, but first, agreement: I completely agree that music effects emotion and life, and it can even do it chemically. I agree that our music reflects our view of God – sentimental music, sentimental view of God. Music is in no way neutral.
He talked about how the beat must be a prime number or breaks down into a prime number (4/4 is really 2 sets of 2) because that works with our brain well. That means “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” goes out the window because there IS no time signature. My question is, 7/8 and 5/8 are prime numbers, but those have got to be one of THE most irregular beats – because 7/8 can be ordered 2.2.3, 2.3.2, 3.3.1, 3.2.2., and maybe all of those in consecutive measures. If that doesn’t mess with your mind, I don’t know what does. And 7 is a prime number, so it shouldn’t be that way.
But even if 7 wasn’t a prime number or if it did divide evenly and ‘logically,’ does the science of something make it inherently right or wrong? Or is it just the association that makes it wrong (and so Christian liberty applies)? If the beat has to be ‘right,’ then what about African music? If it has to be harmonically ‘right,’ what about Arab quarter-tones? What about chaos? It’s often relative based on how much you know of what’s going on (consider, for example, a Bach fugue. I love fugues, but then, I’ve studied them and can usually follow what’s happening. To others, it’s a jumbled mess). If it must be orderly, what about Debussy? The speaker seemed to leave in all classical music automatically and ignore that classical has its problems, too (not to mention the words of Opera!).
He said that what is beautiful brings the greatest pleasure, and I guess the scientifically beautiful are the orderly, prime numbered, harmonically proper, rhyming songs (he seemed to believe that all songs with words had to rhyme or they were bad. Hate to break it to you, but Psalms don’t rhyme, even in Hebrew). And I have a question! Is pleasure always logical?
All these were floating around in my head while I was listening. I wrote them down, and saw in my questions to him questions people had asked me about my convictions about music. I started thinking more.
“Did rock incite rebellion and immorality, or was it just used by people who were rebelling and immoral (another thought: if it was used to rebel against the norm and we have a problem with that, then don’t listen to Mozart, either)? Other things that used to be bad (such as standards of modesty – we now wear pants and show our ankles no problem) is acceptable – is that different than rock? If not, where do we draw the line? Is there a line to be drawn, or is it just principles to be drawn?”
For now, all I’m willing to do is principles. I think some genres have fewer issues with these principles than others. A lot of it needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, considering association, the weaker brother, the impact on the unbelievers around you, profitability, the emotions it stirs up in you, and if there’s sin contained in it. No music genre or song can fully capture the glory of God. He loves music, but isn’t bound by time or culture.
I’ll leave you to think about these things for a week, and then come back with some principles I’ve found are helpful.

“God’s wrath is a perfection for which He should be adored
A passion for this message: yes it needs to be restored
He has holy reflexes towards the evil He abhors
Cats who don’t respect Him will receive His lethal sword
The mass prefers the pleasures that sin easily affords
Our blasphemous affections are the reason we’re at war
We should be in awe, His sweetness should keep us floored
Sin’s radical infection is the reason we get bored
Repeatedly we snore, He’s frequently ignored
We explore evil lusts leaving us greedy for more
The Master’s recollection of our evil He records
We have zero protection because He is keeping score
It’s bad for every section, there’s no passing His inspection
Because we’re lacking the perfection that we need to be secure
Everlasting dissection: the unbeliever’s reward
Disaster for rejection of the truth- Jesus is Lord!

{excerpt from “All Consuming Fire,” Shai Linne}

“You sent Your Beloved to be lifted up
On a beautiful, seemingly ugly cross
The visible image of Your hiddenness
Only You are beautiful and yet invisible
True beauty is spiritual.
Therefore, sanctify our worldly minds
Your complexion is unappealing to lustful eyes
Besides, apart from new birth in Christ
Sinners beholding Your Holy beauty would die
Therefore, beauty residing in the eye of the beholder is a lie
It is found in the Beautiful One- The Most High.”
{excerpt from “Perfection of Beauty” – Blair Linne}

P.S. – The other day Andrew pointed me to the “better” (meaning his favorites, as opposed to the most popular ;)) Lecrae songs – like “the Bride,” “Beautiful Feet,” and “Truth.” I also found “Send Me” – and really like all those.

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5 thoughts on “Re-thinking Convictions – Part 1 of 3

  1. Lostariel says:

    I hate to break up something so serious, but… You’re it. 🙂 I’ve tagged you, from my blog. You know how this works. I hope you have time to do it!
    In the meantime, I like seeing these thoughts in more complete forms. I’ve really never thought about the /form/ of music being a matter or morality. Is that what you used to think/now don’t think quite so strongly?
    Rap’s still not my thing, though.

    Like

  2. Autumn says:

    I love this post. A few months ago, I started reading Harry Potter after years of thinking that it shouldn’t be read by Christians. I’m only 3 books in, but I’m glad that I’m reading them.

    Thank you for being so open and honest about changing your mind! (I’ve been hoping that I didn’t sound rude when you posted your note about music on facebook.) My brothers love Christian rap- you might want to check out Trip Lee, Tedashii, and Sho Baraka.

    Like

  3. James Dunn says:

    Hey Kyleigh, You must be referring to the Homeschool conference in Washington, and Dr. Donald Chittick. I was at the conference, and though I was unable to go to Dr. Chittick’s lectures, I was able to get them on the CDs. I know what you’re talking about. I and my family know Dr. Chittick personally, and have a lot of respect for him (in many ways, he’s like the Dr. Henry Morris of the Northwest). Nevertheless, I think his arguments have some flaws in them. I can’t say though, that I’ve been able to like rap. The only rap I’ve ever really liked are the two Keynes vs. Hayek economic rap videos.
    Beyond that, I can’t shake off the feeling that something is flawed in rock music. Every argument I come up with against rock fails somewhere; but I still can’t shake off the feeling that something about rock is just… well… beyond preference. But I’ve long since given up trying to stress the point because I can’t prove it. It’s a gut instinct.
    I’ve also been thinking about reading the Harry Potter books sometime (to study how worldview effects fantasy writing), though I haven’t gotten around to it (and perhaps never will). I’ve read the first three books of Paolini’s “Inheritance Cycle”. I enjoyed some parts of it, but overall I felt depressed by the evolutionary/agnostic world view presented. It’s kind of like Harry Potter lite — it’s got some witch-crafty stuff in it (“magic” that does not come from God), but it is not emphasized as fiercely as I believe it is in Harry Potter.
    — and, I just got an email pop-up that says you just left a comment on my blog. So, I might as well give you the official notice since you’ve already noticed it.
    You’ve been tagged. Again.

    Like

    • kyleian says:

      Yes, those were the lectures.
      I still get that gut feeling about rock, too, but can’t prove it. I think it’s just that although it may not be a moral wrong, it’s got a lot more ‘issues’ connected with it and in general listening to it may not be the best idea (kind of like tattoos… but that’s another discussion).
      I read the first 2 Eragon books, and while I liked them at the time (it was just after they came out; I think I was 12) I then noticed the things I disagreed with and was put off by his writing style and how much he took from Tolkien and Star Wars… and haven’t read the others. But I don’t have a problem anymore with someone who has the discernment to know what’s good and what’s bad in them to read them… but more on that in my next post.

      Like

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