Music policy is a step backwards
A&E Editor Christian Davis defends the case for secular music. | flickr.com, creativecommons
Simply put, banning secular music in our campus coffee shops and our fitness center is a huge step backward for Biola University. This decision not only shows the rest of campus we are unwilling to engage in different perspectives in a musical sense, but it shows our community Biola is a place of exclusivity and cultural irrelevance.
These might sound like harsh words but I feel like this conversation must be had. On a personal level, music is one of my greatest joys, and any policy that hinders access to this naturally grabs my attention in a big way. I have been in this constant struggle during my time in Christian education to avoid being demonized for the music I listen to. In private middle school, it was getting in trouble for wearing a Beatles shirt to class. In private high school, it was arguing with teachers about why certain songs were banned from Homecoming. Now, four years into Biola, I feel like the question about banning secular music on campus should not even be a question.
Even further, it was not a question any of us were even asked. This was a decision made without any sort of student input whatsoever. It is difficult for me to accept this sort of change in stride when I would hedge my bets that this decision does not represent the majority of the student body in any way.
A BROKEN WORLD
And how can it? There is not even a consensus for what “Christian” music is. Michael Gungor discussed this in a blog post a few years back where he outlined the problem with “Christian” music, and the faux authenticity he felt was rampant in the genre. So often, modern American Christianity turns to “Christian” music for truth rather than seeing the truth already found within the world’s brokenness. Is soft-spoken Christian Sufjan Stevens any less saved because he used the word “masturbated” on his last record? How can we possibly understand the world around us if we try to pretend it does not exist? Banning secular music closes us off from the truth found within people’s stories, even if the ideals within do not match Biola’s standards.
THRUSTING US BACKWARDS
Last week we ran an op-ed by Chimes writer Nicole Foy about her concerns with how our campus neglects to discuss certain issues, such as the “have the courage to” campaign. This really resonated with me and my experience as a passionate music listener at Biola, and holds true in the light of this secular music discussion. Is banning secular music in our coffee shops an act of courage and conviction? I would not say so. This new policy thrusts us backwards, and reinforces the idea of the “Biola Bubble” we are so often mocked for. It is dangerous to confuse living in a Christian community with a disregard for the culture we live in. This limits our ability to empathize with those different than us, and banning secular music is just one more step in the direction of inclusiveness.