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How religious does Christian music need to be?

It’s Sunday and I’ve had this blog entry in my head for a few weeks now, thought it was the perfect time to write down my thoughts. The other day I was listening to Studio 54 on Sirius XM and “Fall Down (Spirit of Love)” by Tramaine Hawkins came on. I thought, “Wow, how kewl is that!? A rocking’ Christian song on secular radio.” It reminded me of “Addicted Love” by Bebe and Cece Winans.



But what’s really crazy is that I remember when I was about 6 years old my dad had a couple of Tramaine’s albums and played them all the time (very loudly as well). Even at the age I felt her music. The past few weeks I’ve been re-visiting these albums and they still rock out. I don’t know anything about her so I looked her up on Wikipedia and came upon this entry about her album “The Search is Over”: “Hawkins was somewhat ostracized by her core gospel music audience, who were soured by the lyrically neutral content and heavy mainstream attention her music received. Though ‘Fall Down’ became one of the earliest gospel songs to crossover to mainstream charts, traditional fans balked.” I’m not sure how reliable this source is as there are no references but in my experience with churches and the Christian world it’s not something unheard of, remember the Switchfoot incident?

This was sad to read because I know that my father at the time was a born again Christian in a strict Baptist church and he was struggling with these kinds of religious attitudes. I remember him talking about being afraid to “raise my hands in worship”, what to wear, what music to listen to, and things of that nature. I suppose when he found this album he was probably stoked because he had some really grooving music he could enjoy and not be worried about “is this ok to listen to? Would the church approve?”

I suppose if her fans were right—that her content was neutral and mainstream—at least she created a welcoming space for new Christians to enter. At the time that I write this the world seems so crazy in regards to religion, politics, and just basic human compassion towards each other. There are so many arguments about what is right and wrong and I can sympathize with almost all sides so much that I have to ask myself, “How can there be a proper answer?” But after these past few weeks it slowly became clear to me: people either live by the Law or they live by the Spirit.

When we talk about what is right and wrong we often are assuming obedience or adherence to a consistent Law of sorts. And that’s fine. But then there are those who think differently because they live in the Spirit. The Spirit operates much differently in that it is not required to administer justice but can exercise mercy and compassion, it can give blessings to those who are undeserving and can withhold justice to those who should be punished.

I’m glad to say that the last 10 years or so of my dad’s life he was able to transcend and live in the Spirit. Life wasn’t only about what’s right and wrong—what you should or shouldn’t do—it was about love. Funny how when Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was he gave not only one but two answers. And they both were about love.
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