Friends, I know this isn’t our usual flavor of post around here, but I wanted to share.
As someone with one foot in classical music (STL Chamber Chorus, etc.) and one foot in Christian (Catholic) contemporary music (Oddwalk etc.), I mourn the loss of Classic 99.1 in St. Louis, especially after hearing the new Joy-FM staff “pray” this morning at about 8:45am. I don’t think St. Louis needed more contemporary Christian music more than it needed any classical music on the airwaves, especially given the apparent motivations as evidenced in the prayer I heard earlier. It was rather self-centered and grandizing, and didn’t mourn the “death” of the old and their staff but rather thanked God for what they had received (without acknowledging what God had also apparently taken away), and hoped that folks who had not heard the sad news and had tuned in that morning might be equally touched by their musical offerings. The prayer was also in part a plea for financial support, a tactic which always irks me.
This is to say nothing of the often theologically shallow (not incorrect, not false, just shallow) and inward-turned lyrics of much the music (i.e. “God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you”). That sort of praise and evangelization has its place, but I prefer my music and worship generally to be a bit more profound. Praise and evangelization is only the first step – the who and the what. Given the usual brevity of lyrics, thats about all that music can be, typically. When we start praying (and singing) about the hows and the whys, then we have entered true theology (faith seeking understanding, said Anselm) and a greater understanding and worship of our God and our faith – and the Christian community, who we are and what we are to be doing, via God’s will. To be sure, much of the music has lately switched its language more directly to God and not self, but there is still very little “us” and “we” in the music, and very little about, for instance, the trinity, or other deeper aspects of the divine life.
Classical music, to be sure, is not necessarily sacred – even some of it with sacred texts! – but I’m sure it reaches some people on a much higher plane than Christian contemporary ever will, and who is anyone to deny someone what connects them with the faith, their God, and their community? I’m not sure that the classical station had to “die” in this instance to give new life even to a generally worthy cause. Were the other (at least) five Christian contemporary stations and countless other religious “talk” stations not enough? How does an organization (radio station, city, society) determine what should stay and what should go, between two worthy choices, if only one choice may be made?
Feel free to answer, disagree or agree in the comments (here on the blog, or if you see this over on facebook or wherever). Now, back to your regularly scheduled internet.