Earlier this year, a friend of mine was asking about guidelines when writing for a blog. One of the first things I told him was that you should not praise or pan works (art, music, books, movies etc.) without actually having viewed, skimmed, listened or observed the work, itself (with the obvious exception of pornography, which, by definition, I don’t need to see to classify). The reason for this is threefold:
1) To avoid praising something that shouldn’t be praised
2) To avoid dissing something that shouldn’t be dissed
3) To avoid putting my ignorance on public for the world to see.
My next bit of advice, in line with #3, was that I don’t blog on golf, clogging, NASCAR and other topics about which I have no clue.
So, in catching up with some reading today, I found some perfect examples of ODM violation of both of these rules, one of which will allow me to answer a question posed to me (but missed until today) by amy.
Exhibit A: Wait a minute! Bruce Willis was dead during the whole movie?!?
In a number of articles in the past few weeks (one might suspect, cynically, were written to garner web hits), some of the ODM’s have taken issue with High School Musical, posting the words and/or video of one particular song as an example of why is should be reviled and spurned by Christians. It was also pointed out earlier that this artistic work was being performed by drama departments at *gasp* Christian schools. Amy queried us on an earlier thread whether we would support the performance of this particular musical which includes a song and dance number with the following lyrics:
Kickinâ€™ and a scratchinâ€™
Grindinâ€™ out my best
Anything it takes
To climb the ladder of success
Work our tails off every day
Gotta bump the competition
Blow them all away
Move it to the groove
â€˜Til the music stops
Do the bop bop, bop to the top
Donâ€™t ever stop
Bop to the top
Shake some booty and turn around
Flash a smile in their direction
Bop, bop, bop
Straight to the top
Going for the glory
Weâ€™ll keep stepping up
And we just wonâ€™t stop
â€˜Til we reach the top
Bop to the top
On the surface, I would agree that it seems rather antithetical to something Christians should be supporting. However, since the ODM sites in question have a record of “discernment” about an inch wide and not nearly as thick, I decided not to make a snap judgment. I held off commenting until I had actually done a little bit of research (since that word is in the title of our site) into the work in question.
Sure enough, as it turns out, it was best that I didn’t make a snap judgment. The song in question which keeps getting quoted and played by the ODM’s is the introduction of the story’s antagonist, and the message contained therein is antithetical to the message of the story (which is normally the case with the worldview of a story’s antagonist). Basically, this musical number was used to introduce us to the villain of the story, and to describe their motivation.
So, one must question whether the ODM’s in question were just ignorant, neglecting to do any actual research into the work of art, itself, in pursuit of scoring nasty put-downs, increased web hits or both. Or, were the ODM’s being purposely deceitful and malevolent in intent? Out of charity, I will assume the former.
In that vein, let’s ask ourselves – reasonably – if the introduction of the antagonist should be used to portray the intent of a story.
If so, then it would be best to tear Genesis 3 out of the Bible. After all, one of the characters in this story says “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Do we really want people believing this?
We also might want to tear out Genesis 11, since the people there say “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” What an awful philosophy to be teaching!
Then, let’s toss the story of Joshua and Jericho, since one of the protagonists of the story is a prostitute. Oh, the impropriety! And, let’s toss Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, since one of the characters in the story suggests that Jesus should bow down to him. Blasphemy!
I suspect you get the point, but that’s what happens when you review a work without actually doing any research into it in the first place…
Exhibit 2: I’m not a musician, but I slept in a Holiday Inn Express last night…
This article gives a perfect example of why you should not speak on a subject on which you apparently ignorant.
It seems that a Christian music company was advertising a fake book of 400 Praise and Worship songs for C instruments (which would include keyboards, harps and some other stringed instruments, though not guitars). The terminology “fake book”, for those of you who don’t play modern music, is an industry term which describes a piece of music which includes the lyrics of a song, chords for that song and (sometimes, but not always) the melody line of the song. It is primarily used in public performance of music – particularly music written originally for guitar – as an aide to musicians.
The wikipedia describes it thusly:
Fake books are not intended for novices: the reader must follow and interpret the scant notation, and is expected to have thorough familiarity with chords and sheet music. However, fake books can be an avenue to playing songs quickly; a few chords and a one-note melody line can allow even an amateur to play a passable version of any song with relative ease. [emphasis mine]
In Praise and Worship music in church, fake book arrangements are often used, as a large number of talented guitarists (in particular) do not learn to read classically staffed music when learning the guitar. So, in order to allow bands to quickly learn songs and play quality versions of songs, more and more P&W bands have started to use ‘fake book’ arrangements.
Back to the article at hand.
In an apparent attempt to support a thesis of modern Praise and Worship music being ‘man-centric’, the author of this piece writes:
Ever wonder why the P&W teams show words on the jumbo-tron but no music? Well, they wouldnâ€™t be able to “improvise” (aka “fake”) their way through and we certainly wouldnâ€™t want to impinge on their artistic expression or human potentiality.
In actuality, if the author actually understood music ministry, he would know that “fake book” has little or nothing to do with “artistic expression” or “human potentiality”, but has everything to do with reducing the practice time required without sacrificing the quality of the accompaniment music – which, otherwise, would detract from a worship music setting. With a little bit of knowledge, he would understand that the primary purpose of “faking” a song is not for improvisation, but for ease of use. However, he chose to violate the second rule above…
Could it be that the writer just wanted to pan any songs in church which might have ‘fake book’ arrangements for them. If so, it would have been just as fruitful to quote II Opinions 2:3-5 “Thou shalt not worship with music that is not written in sheet format, with a 4/4 or 3/4 beat, with the downbeats on 1 and 3″.
So, when you see me blogging next about NASCAR or an Italian opera (I hate opera), someone please point me back to this article so that I can avoid making the same mistakes as the authors of these pieces…