Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Christian Films: A Marketing Perspective

We've had a lot of talk about the definition and ministry philosophy of "Christian film," but I find this particular marketing perspective interesting.

HT: Drew Turney and ChristianityToday

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Journey to "Christian Rap"

With the rise and success of LeCrae, even though "Christian rap" has been around for decades, some Christian bloggers are asking (as if for the first time) questions about the intersection of Christianity and rap music, questions I thought were fairly well-answered years ago.

But, despite such a question being in the subtitle, I appreciate this Christian college dean's story of coming to know and appreciate "Christian rap" music.

HT: Dan DeWitt

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Fun: Study Shows NFL Referees May Be Biased Toward Disciplined Teams

Clever bit from The Onion.

HOUSTON—Shedding light on the suspected league-wide officiating trend, a new study published Wednesday by researchers at Baylor University has suggested that NFL referees may in fact display a clear bias toward disciplined football teams. “According to our analysis of officiating decisions over the past several seasons, referees do appear to distinctly favor teams that exhibit poise and play in accordance with NFL rules and regulations,” said lead researcher Randall Levitz, explaining that on-field rulings disproportionately punish teams that frequently jump offsides, engage in excessive celebrations, or shove opponents after a play is blown dead. “In any given game, for example, the team that repeatedly delivers cheap-shot late hits on the opposing quarterback is targeted for roughing the passer penalties far more often than the team that does not do that. And accordingly, maintaining focus and professionalism throughout all four quarters yields a distinct and, frankly, totally unfair competitive advantage.” The study went on to confirm that the blatant officiating bias has directly affected the outcome of virtually every game involving the Detroit Lions over the past five seasons.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Oceans" and Other Challenging Praise Lyrics

Hillsong United's "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)", even though it's more than two years old, is still popular to sing and to talk about. In my worship leader circles, the debate centered around how singable it was by a congregation, and then how to match its balance of ambience and energy. Recently, a Christian blogger, Annie Downs, pointed out something about the lyrics in an article that's been going around cyberspace, Stop Singing "Oceans".

Downs's problem isn't with the song itself, but with the hearts of the congregants who sing it. Do they really, honestly mean it when they sing through that challenging bridge? Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior. That's giving God license to challenge and refine you, including by proverbial fire. So yeah, Downs has a good point.

But "Oceans" is far from alone in having strong, honest and worshipful lyrics that we may not think through singing (but we should). Here's a list of popular worship lyrics (both recent and from hymnody) that also may fall in this category.

"Lord, strip it all away, 'til only You remain" -Simplicity, Rend Collective

"Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain." -Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

"If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus 'tis now." -My Jesus I Love Thee

The Holy Scriptures have the good news of the Gospel, but they also convict us of our sin and challenge us with a call to God-directed sacrificial living. It's good that both hymns of old and modern praise songs are reflecting that balance.

Can you add any challenging praise lyrics to this list?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Christian (Subcultural) Art Apologetics?

It seems that two recent events have really sparked more discussion on "Christian film" and even general Christian subcultural production. First, there was LeCrae's new album Anomaly, its success and his statements about Christian art. Now, there's the (non-Christian and Christian) lambasting of the new Left Behind movie.

I admit that I'm a bit surprised at the voices rising up to defend the artistic output of Christian subculture. I think it's good that discussions are getting deeper into artistic philosophy and vision when it comes to Christian art. Here are some links to some of the discussion:

In Defense of Christian Subculture

How Christian Critics are Killing the Christian Film Industry 

Defenders of Christian subcultural film and art are correct to point out the artistic shallowness and moral vacancy that plagues most of the commercialized entertainment industry, and I wouldn't find it hard to believe, personally, that there might be a bit of prejudice against "Christian film" among reviewers. However, I really think that an improvement of Christian subcultural production is possible when we ask (and try to answer) the hard theological and artistic questions. What makes a film "Christian"? What is this art's purpose? To entertain, affirm, evangelize, disciple, and/or make a certain statement (all the while keeping in mind that too much "purpose" can easily detract artistic integrity)? In better answering these questions as artists and consumers, I'll be brave to say that there's could be a day where reviewers don't lambaste Christian art.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review of Jennifer Knapp's "Facing the Music"

Like Trevin Wax, the contemporary Christian music of the late 90's and early 00's defined most of my teen years, though mine heavily toward Tooth & Nail Records and the like rather than what was on the WOW albums. I was still, though, very familiar with Jennifer Knapp's music and testimony, and I made it to the back of a moshpit for her showing at Cornerstone 2000. Many of my youth group friends were very moved by her testimony and her music.

Trevin Wax wrote a very good review of what looks like a very revealing autobiography, Facing the Music. You can read it here.

HT: Trevin Wax