I don’t like Contemporary Christian Music. I think this is mostly a knee-jerk reaction against my teenage ALL CHRISTIAN EVERYTHING SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD asshole days, so I am probably throwing some babies out with the bathwater (sorry, babies!). But there is also a little truth to the fact that a lot of CCM is just…not creative. Not technically good. And most importantly to me, they are often too Happy Happy Joy Joy.
I can’t stand a faith that pretends life is good. I can’t stand a faith that refuses to acknowledge domestic violence, addictions, bad moods, and doubt. Unfortunately, most of our worship music is “blissfully” free of our uncomfortable reality. But I want to be uncomfortable! I want the songs I sing to God to be messy and truthful and desperate, because that is how I am.
So even though I don’t like traditional worship music, I DO love me some songs about faith. Here are a few of my favorites.
1| “Jesus, Jesus” by Noah Gundersen Continue reading
I was in a bad mood at church yesterday, and singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” didn’t help. It should be ‘come all you doubtful, stumbling and hesitant’ not ‘come all you faithful, joyful and triumphant,’ I thought bitterly. I have so little patience with the reality that some people are confident and happy in moments when I am not.
But we followed the bright song with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” which is my all-time, constant favorite Christmas hymn. Its minor chords instantly put a smile on my face, and I remembered that Christmas is a pretty dark holiday. There is joy, definitely, in the fact that the God who created everything decided to become human to love us more intimately. But our celebration of Christmas is also about the longing of Israel 2,000 years ago for a savior, mirrored in our current longing for a returned savior – for the end of all this corruption and pain and half-answered prayers. Continue reading
By far my favorite thing about living in Dallas (within range of Austin) has been the live music. I’ve had the opportunity to see bands that would never have passed through Central Illinois. Below are my five favorite concerts!
1) Sufjan Stevens.
EASY CHOICE. Sufjan Steven’s Sing-A-Long Christmas Tour was the best concert experience of my life. Alternating between original music and classic Christmas songs, this concert felt like a massive family gathering of weirdos celebrating a holiday together. Spinning the Christmas wheel to decide which hymn or carol we would belt out together, Sufjan felt like a friend. That is, until he brought things back around to “Casmir Pulaski Day” and reminded everyone that he is, in fact, a genius.
The concert ended with the incredibly long “Christmas Unicorn.” Sufjan donned streamers and a bike helmet outfitted with a wing and a unicorn horn. Everyone swayed and sang, “I’m the Christmas unicorn / Find the Christmas unicorn / You’re the Christmas unicorn too / It’s all right, I love you.” It was absolutely ridiculous and lovely. I wish I could welcome the Christmas season with a Sufjan concert every year. Continue reading