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“Christian”: a label given to classify cliches

Within Biola culture, there is a general familiarity with the use of “Christian” as a classifying adjective. “Christian” bookstores, rock bands and novels all seem to have earned a negative connotation, and many of us, as soon as we graduate, ditch the label. We see the Christianizing of our specializations as detrimental to our careers and things of the past generation—our parent’s inspirational Bible quotes mounted above the hearth and Steven Curtis Chapman blasting through the stereo of your 1999 Honda minivan.

“CHRISTIAN ARTISTS” CUSS

Nowadays, it is much more common for musicians to claim Christian values and themes, but not necessarily the title of “Christian Artist.” Examples of this are musicians Father John Misty and Kings Kaleidoscope. Both are Christian minded, but have said and made decisions within their careers that prevent their music from being played in Lifeway. Outspoken struggles with faith, doubt and the occasional use of profane language have segregated these honest artists from stereotypically “Christian” artists.

In his most recent interview with REEL Gospel, Chad Gardner from Kings Kaleidoscope commented on the themes of their newest release, saying:

“It might feel tame and controlled, but it’s not. The opposite way to see life in the lens of the true kingdom of God is that it’s a wild, spiritual world that we’re living in, where God is the only one in control and we are not.”

WORTH THE PUSHBACK

Often, for musicians like Kings Kaleidescope, the sacrifice of face and acceptance in Christian society for the sake of true artistry is worth every criticism of cynicism and doubt.

Relevant is one example of an integration of faith with the world in a professional context. They intentionally refer to themselves as a Christ-centered magazine. Through providing a Christian perspective on all issues—news, arts, media, music, current topics and opinions—they are a prime example of what it means to be a Christian in the secular world without becoming influenced, but instead influencing others and shaping minds, likes and favorites.

REMAIN RELEVANT

In a post on November 28, Relevant did a feature piece on Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Lorde and JAY-Z as contenders for this year’s Grammy awards. The article presents each artist and the journalist reports with professional enthusiasm. Being published within a Christian magazine, a reader would think there would be an assertion of Christian values into the piece. It would have been all too easy for the writer to pick apart themes of Childish Gambino’s “Redbone,” foreboding all from listening because of its explicit lyricism. The article did not do this—it wrote honestly and compassionately about the artists, conveying respect and support.

With these approaches, I believe we as Christians can enter into the secular workplace and not be left out of every conversation, or miss out on our opportunities to minister to and make friends with people fundamentally different than us. Our Christian worldview limits our understanding of other viewpoints and it has the inclination to close our minds, tightening our grips on truths we have studied. Thus, we encounter parents who keep their children from listening to Radio Disney, and watching PG films without their supervision… at the age of 16.

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