Late last night I posted a response to a out-of-full-context quote in my Twitter feed. This morning I heard from my friend and, after having taken his 140 characters to task, felt it would be fair blogging practice to pass along the context.
The friend I mentioned is Dave Trout, the host of an hour-long radio program called Under the Radar that’s syndicated on over 150 radio stations and also exists as a weekly podcast online. Dave repeatedly bears up against my “Well what about this, Dave?” diatribes against CCM, usually in email conversations, with great grace and patience. This weekend, Dave is in attendance at Hutchmoot 2011, a “weekend of live music, great food and conversation, and a series of discussions centered on art, faith, and the telling of great stories across a range of mediums” (taken from the Hutchmoot website). The quote that set me off yesterday was from Jason Gray, an artist whose album release was being hosted by the event last night.
After I wrote last night’s post, I emailed a link to it to Dave. With his permission I’m re-posting his reply to me from this morning.
Great article. Well written and spot on.
I think Jason’s comment might have been taken the wrong way.
But with no context, that happens. For the way you understood it, you responded very well.
Even your tweets have been all up in my head last night.
It’s so easy to follow a calling that you know will lead to more success and financial stability.
I’ll talk more another time with you on this.
What I wish you could have heard was Jason talking about how much he hated CCM music a few years ago. He told a great story about he loved Max Lucado books in high school – read several and was spiritually edified. Then after high school he discovered Frederick Buechener, and was moved by how his writing was full of more art, mystery, depth, beauty. So what happened? He ended up hating Max Lucado. Like really passionately despise his “ministry” for the next 15 years–groaning when he would see a new M.L. release at the Christian Bookstore–because he looked down on it as fast food spirituality. Probably very similar to how I feel about Casting Crowns. Providentially, Jason was hired to go on a tour with Max just a couple of years ago. He said that he was the kindest, humblest, most grace filled person he met. AND he was wise… like Buechener wise… but he’s writing his books as a pastor, and he has his flock in mind. He’s using his gifts and wisdom in the confines and limitations of the audience he is serving.
Jason’s point: “I’m done. I’m done living in judgment of everything. I used to be angry at everything. It just rots away your spiritual life.” He used to hate “Becky.” He used to feel the same way he did about CCM listeners as he did about Max Lucado readers–these people were lost sheep on a cotton candy diet. God changed his heart. I think Jason would agree with you… that he feels “called” to serve people in that context. It doesn’t mean you approach your art with contempt–like “These people just don’t get it, so I’m just gonna give them more of what they want.” it’s more about empathizing with the mom in a mini-van with 3 screaming kids, who doesn’t have the focus in her life to contemplate on a 5-minute folk song with no chorus. No. She wants to sing along to something, pop music if you will, and still be reminded of the truth of who God is in that moment. That’s more of the context of when he said, “it’s OK to write pop…” Old Jason could not do it with the anger and contempt he had for CCM listeners. New Jason has been called by God, and isn’t thinking about “making some bank” (as he jokingly put it). He doesn’t want to dumb it down or just write a “hit.” He toils quite a bit at making pop music that has some deeper truths in it, but is hooky and accessible.
He still lives with the temptation to live in judgment…. this time, of himself. He is always afraid a song will be too theological for CCM radio accessibility, or too poppy and will not be accepted by his book-worm artist friends. He’s trying not to live in fear like that, because it stifles creativity. (His new album is all about overcoming fear).
Well I rambled more than I thought. Bottom line…. from each of your unique perspectives… you are both right!
Thanks, Dave, for the perspective. It’s obviously just as easy to settle into a dismissive attitude about CCM as it is to settle into a opportunistic, capital gain mentality about it. It’s refreshing to hear someone near the center of it taking that balance seriously.