Friday, September 14, 2012

Salt and Light?

I wanted to add an addendum to my previous post on Mary Mary's horrendously shallow video for their most excellent song "God in Me." As is almost always the case, what I wanted to say was already articulated by someone else in a superior way. In this situation, I turn to noted British cultural critic (and as far as I know non-Christian) Stuart Hall who said this about the political implications of cultural studies:
I do believe that politics is impossible without what I have called 'the arbitrary closure';without whatHomi Bhabha called social agency as an arbitrary closure. That is to say, I don't understand a practise which aims to make a difference in the world, which doesn't have some points of difference or distinction which it has to stake out, which really matter (emphasis mine)
Hall's statement is relevant not only to a discussion on Mary Mary's video, but it speaks to that larger question I posed on why so much Christian artistic expression is, to put in bluntly, absolutely terrible. What we have are two extremes, both of which illustrate a complete disregard for our calling (Matthew 5:13-16)to be salt and light. On the one hand, we have people like Mary Mary who are doing truly innovative music, yet the Christcentric points of "difference and distinction" have been completely neutered when the music was married to the completely depraved images of the video. 

On the other side we have Christian artists who are so cloistered in their self-imposed God bubble that they don't realize that their lameness is a hindrance to evangelization. At this point, I should name names and put these people on blast, but you know who they are. You would never admit to liking their music. The production quality is antiquated, the lyrics hokey and simplistic. The talent is abysmal. This stuff is just as bad, in my opinion, as the "Inspirational" music that is devoid of Christ because it is homogeneous and lacks the distinction and goodness that any art that is supposed to represent the Lord should have. And the really disturbing thing about this is that most of the money and resources that are in the the body of Christ are put into this second-rate "art." I repeat: most of the money and resources that are in the the body of Christ are put into the promotion and proliferation of this second-rate "art." The truly cutting age, progressive, and scripturalmusic, literature, and art is going unnoticed while the superficial and the stupid takes center stage. So I ask YOU, where is the salt and light? Where is the distinction? Where is the difference?

Jesus Take the Wheel from Mary Mary

So last night I made the huge mistake of watching the BET Awards. What can I say - I was a fan of MJ's music and BET CEO Debra L. Lee had promised that the show was going to be a tribute to Jackson so I was curious enough to tune in. I wish I could get those 3+ hours of my life back. I want the memories of this show permanently excised from my memory it was so bad. There were many disturbing performances, such as Drake and Weezy's R. Kelly-esque rendition of their song (I have no idea what it is called and I don't care.) 

The worst moment of the night unfortunately belonged to the (former?) "gospel" artists Mary Mary ft. Queen Latifah. I have defended their music in the past. When people criticized them for basically remaking Jamie Foxx's "Blame it on the Alcohol" with a few references to a vague God, I argued that the song was innovative and more biblical than first listen. For instance, as I said in my previous post, Mary Mary's song "God in Me" seemed harmless, but the video was ridiculous. The performance last night easily eclipses the horrid video, in my opinion. First of all, they were dressed like . . . how can I say this nicely? . . . these women basically looked like street walkers. I am not exaggerating or being mean, just look at that picture up top for goodness sake!They waddled along the stage clearly out of breath (perhaps their clothes were cutting off circulation) and then they bring out their special guest. Now, unless I missed something Cleo is not a Christian . . . so why would Mary Mary make the odd choice to include her in the one performance of the night that was supposed to explicitly exult Christ? Where was Kierra Sheard? Why didn't they attempt something different like Beyonce and her rendition of Ave Maria? The Sound has plenty of deep album cuts that proclaim the gospel boldly - why didn't they perform one of those and use that platform to reach those lost souls? 

Like I said earlier, I can't defend these chicas anymore. I will pray that they find their way back again, but for now I can no longer consider Mary Mary gospel/Christian artists. The message has not just been watered down, it has been married to the darkness of the world to the point where the salt and light is entirely missing. I pray that somebody in their inner circle sits them down and lovingly sets them back on course. I want to see the sovereignty of God on display at places like the BET awards. Mary Mary had a great opportunity to witness last night, and instead they chose to simply continue down the road to secularization. Jesus, please take the wheel, by force if needed, and get these two talented women back on course. Christian music needs them.

Brooke White is a Mormon

I don't watch American Idol, so I had no idea who Brooke White was. I found out about her through some "Christian" artists who shall remain nameless. What I am wondering is why there is a not-so-subtle marketing push of Ms. White to Christian artists even though she is NOT A CHRISTIAN? I am sure she is a nice person, and talented no doubt, but the fact that record execs and supposed Christian musicians are promoting her as being part of the genre points to just how far removed this music is from the true message. There are actual Christian artists that deserve support, artists like Ayeisha Woods who have tremendous talent and lackluster record sales. So why are established Christian artists supporting people like Brooke White, who a.) make secular music and b.) don't share the same faith?