Monday, July 10, 2006

Bad Music

We are again reading a defense of the indefensible. Between the bright light of right ideas and the gloom of truly deviant ideas there lurk some who prefer to lounge in the shade. They want a reputation for desiring the good while they continue to enjoy the bad they don’t personally find offensive.
This paragraph introduces dissidens' arguments at Remonstrans against tolerating fundamentalist CCM while abhorring its non-fundamentalist cousin. In other words, . . .
The small problem is that we have bad music, the big problem is that we defend it. It is a shame that our devotional verse is so insipid and mindlessly repetitive. It is worse that we excuse it. It is a sorry thing that our worship is so unimaginative. It is unforgivable that we cannot even admit it . . . . There are our Shadow People who want us to hate CCM. Fine, it is loathsome, who can doubt it? What the Shadow People cannot do is admit that their own music is CCM, and when it is pointed out, they excuse it because it is targeting children!
Check out the whole series by reading the previous and successive posts, "On a Scale of One to Ten," and "Compare and Contrast."


Matthew LaPine said...

Dissidens does have a point that our criticism often is leveled only at more progressive contemporary music.

That being said, “Arguments?” Picking a target and hitting it is so easy. He doesn't even have to try. I'd like to hear Dissidens really establish his position rather than freeze out the entire world from his conversation. I've considered his position and I don't see it. What I do see is bad music. Of course it’s easier to call it all bad than to call any good.

I don't mean to sound provocative, but I wail for those won over by these "arguments." I really think that ultimately what he's trying to prove is dangerous to the gospel.

Ben said...

I am not and (if I were) would not attempt to be an across-the-board dissidens apologist. Nevertheless, his critique of the prevailing fundamentalist mindset is, in my opinion, valid.

Matthew LaPine said...

If he were talking about theological bankruptcy I would agree. But he's talking about practical bankruptcy in our practice. And that is because we do not know good culture. While I also would say our practice is bankrupt in many respects, I would argue it's because we do not know God, not because we do not know Bach. And I see a real differnce between the two. He does not. What say ye?

Matthew LaPine said...

Ben, I really do wish you'd respond to my last post. Anyone who is corned about being a dissidens apologist is going to say, well I don't agree with everything... It's so much like all the YF (like myself and you judging by the picture) who say they like Piper, but "disagree with him in some areas." Most don't even know what, they just know it's proper to disagree with him about something. I'm worried. The reason is because I'm afraid in the interest in lost theology we will completely sell out to lost culture and thereby lose our channel of effectiveness (that we are part of a culture we live in). I don't think it's proper to identify culture with godliness (but I do believe a shattered culture can be a sign of shattered theology, but there is a large distinction).

Ben said...

I'm not going to be goaded into an answer. I'm not saying that to be hostile, but I have enough irons in the fire right now that I can't make any promises. I'm not avoiding you. I simply haven't made time to process your recent comment yet.

Matthew LaPine said...

Understandable. I'll hold my goads (pontifications) for now. :)
If you do get a chance...

Ben said...


Thanks for your patience. Here goes.

For starters, I'm not bright enough or well-read enough to act as though I have a complete or even adequate grasp on the idea (not the movement) of dissidens.

I agree with you that our foundational problem is that we do not know God. I *think* dissidens' argument is that our "worship" culture demonstrates that we do not know God and does not incline us to get to know Him any better. If that's not what he's saying, it would still be fair to say that it's what I believe.

Now, my point in this post is not to agree or disagree with dissidens' macro-point. My purpose in this post is to draw attention to his point that is (to me) inescapable: In music, as in so many areas, fundamentalism has chosen to tolerate aberrations from biblical doctrine and practice that are quantitatively, but not qualitatively, different from those that it excoriates.

In addition to the comments I quoted in this post, I'll add one from dissidens' post today:

"I do not think it is unfair to criticize the work of inferior men when those men have trafficked in the criticism of others, when they have themselves partaken in the sins they judge. When the neo-evangelical is insipidly repetitive, unimaginative and platitudinous it is bad, when separatists are insipidly repetitive, unimaginative and platitudinous it is ok because it was one of their own fair-haired boys and sometime pirate. We are being asked to grant special dispensation to some 'less good' liturgists after being warned off other 'less good' liturgists."

And of course, this logic extends to areas that range far more broadly than music.