Friday, 21 January 2011

Papa, don't preach

I've had an interesting morning. Friday is my day off, so I've been spending some time listening to my favourite Internet radio station, 'Aural Moon', a Prog rock station. In the course of the morning I've been in conversation with other listeners about a variety of things, and when a particular album was being played the conversation turned to 'preachy' lyrics.

There are, within the progressive music scene, a few musicians who have an open faith. Neal Morse, formerly a member of Spock's Beard and now working with Transatlantic along with other solo and collaborative projects, has produced works such as '?', 'Testimony' and 'Sola Scriptura' in which he overtly proclaims his Christian faith. Others are not as 'in your face' about things, but their influences are clearly present.

Progressive music has always had a particular 'spiritual' edge to it, in the broad sense of the word. Eastern mysticism featured prominently in some of the early works of bands like Yes, there are clear biblical images and metaphors in the early releases of bands like Genesis, and Jethro Tull had a particular downer on organised religion on their album 'Aqualung'.

Yet the message from my correspondent this morning was clear: I don't want to be preached at through my radio. It's OK if you want to preach in your churches, to those who want to hear you, just don't push it on to me. In places like the USA (or such is my understanding - I am willing to be corrected if I'm wrong) there are a number of 'niche' radio channels: if you want country, you choose a country channel; if you want Gospel, you tune in to a Gospel channel; the same with mainstream music or AOR - most tastes are catered for. What seems to be the issue is when that element of choice is taken away, and 'religious' view are 'forced' on someone.

I've never been a big fan of Christians having their own particular 'niche' broadcasting. I'd much rather Christians were involved in the mainstream, rather than catering solely for their own particular ghetto. But I'd also wish for Christians, and those of other faith communities, to be able to speak openly and freely and honestly about their beliefs in the mainstream, rather than having to water things down to suit the delicate palates of the viewing and listening public. As long as they do so with grace and  tolerance.

There has to be a place for religion/ spirituality/ Gospel in the public arena - that's why 'The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.'