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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.

HINDERING ACCESS

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.

 

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Rando Calrissian

    But in light of this getting passed, they still opted to play Top 40 music before a Torrey workshop. Consistency is not a high priority here at Biola. October 14, 2015

  2. Luke

    Christian, great article. It highlights most of the problems I have with Biola, and some are highlighted further in the article you referred to.

    I've made an (perhaps ignorant) observation that Biola markets heavily towards the parents of prospective students more than the students themselves. I couldn't help but think that the whole Biola contract was built around the expectations of the myriad of parents hoping to shield their children from the ugly world we live in. I think the "Biola Bubble" that a lot of students perceive is exactly where most parents, and subsequently Biola, want us to be.

    As for music, if Christian music was NEARLY as vibrant and unique as all other music out there, I really wouldn't complain; however, nothing could be further from the truth. As my pastor says it so perfectly, "Christian music is popular music minus 10 years, and 50% as good." I can appreciate a Christian song here and there, I think there's a problem when 95.9% of songs on 95.9FM (The Fish) sounds exactly the same. October 14, 2015

  3. TBT

    I feel its important to voice out our opinion as students and have the opportunity to voice our opinion on this topic.
    The most important thing I want to point out is that we still have our personal spaces where we can play all the secular music we want, and its only in public spaces where the policy is enforced. And I dont think they are trying to force us to ONLY listen to christian music... PTL!!! BIOLA will never outlaw our personal music choices, so I hope.

    What I think their reasoning for the policy is... although there is so much truth in secular music, there is mixed with way more false truth. It takes effort to be able to filter the truth from ALL the false truth properly. I think the policy is good for the public places that play continues music. For special occasions they probably create playlists with secular music. October 14, 2015

  4. Chris

    Luke that's a great comment. Only I think 10 years is too generous. Most Christian music is stuck in the '80's and '90's. I wonder, though, how much of that is due to market forces versus just a dearth of creativity. If I were to write an amazing Christian hip hop song right now, 95.9 would not play it. It's not their market (i.e. 50 year old white parents). 102.7 would not play it because they're not interested in Christian music. How would I get recognized? October 14, 2015

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