NOTE: Some friends and I were reminiscing on New Year’s Eve (2012-13) about growing up fundamentalist. We were amusing ourselves with what our youth pastors taught us about secular music, particularly backward masking, The 2/4 beat is of the devil, and a number of other urban myths and horror stories fundy pastors tell their youth to keep them straight. Then I remembered that back in 2006 I had written up a set of articles outlining my musical tastes.
I was scanning them on New Years and thought they may be good for a repost for newer readers who have found me in the last 6 or 7 years while I prepare fresh material for the upcoming year. Here’s the first one.
A frequent commenter to my blog recently emailed me to ask a question or two about music. He had noticed under my biographical information that I enjoy listening to some secular bands or what is generally termed “worldly music.”
More specifically, he wanted to know how I would respond to those people who argue that Christians should only listen to “religious” music and never secular music, particularly for entertainment.His email made me think, because I do have some opinions about music folks do find curious. So maybe over the course of a handful of articles I can express those curious opinions.
I guess like a good majority of kids, I didn’t really get turned onto secular radio music until I was a young teen in junior high school, maybe 6th or 7th grade. Up until that time my exposure to popular music was my Star Wars soundtracks and my mother’s Kenny Rogers records.
(And for you readers born beyond the 1980s, we listened to our music off of thin and round, black wheel looking things maybe a foot in diameter. You had to listen to them on record players; CDs and MP3s were still only discussed in the “future technology” section of Popular Mechanics).
My family had managed to secure a 26th inch color television that came with a record player AND an 8 track player built into the wooden cabinet. We were styling. I listened to Kenny Rogers and Dotty West over and over again, along with Andy Griffith’s gospel hymns. I was quite the audiophile.
As I grew older, my friends at school listened to strange music I never heard before, something called Rock and Roll. Portable cassette tape jam boxes were becoming all the rage (they were the Ipods of my generation) and my classmates brought theirs to school where we sampled all sorts of musical flavors. Everything from Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, Billy Squire and ABBA.
Being an uncool kid who’s musical education did not extend past the Gambler album, I was consigned to listening to our local AM radio station in the hopes of hearing the popular music I was beginning to like while I drifted off to sleep.
Up until this time, my Christmas list to Santa was requests for action figures and plastic space ships. I now scrapped those and replaced it with a jambox and Duran Duran tapes. I eventually received the jambox and get this: It had the capability of recording music off the radio! It was like aliens had landed.
Now, during all this time I was being introduced to this new music, my family was attending a liberal Methodist Church, so I had no youth directors crying out against the wickedness of popular music. Only once did I hear anything even remotely close to being critical of secular music and that was at a weekend Methodist youth camp when a black minister said something about the Culture Club song, Karma Chameleon, having Hindu undertones. I just thought it had a good beat and I could dance to it.
This was also the beginning age of music videos. I can still remember the start of the brand new cable television experiment called MTV. Of course, my small town in Missouri was so unsophisticated we didn’t have cable, let alone MTV. I had to stay up past 11 pm and watch the local video countdown shows out of St. Louis on Friday and Saturday nights.
Break dancing was also a new phenomenon in full swing, and as embarrassing as this is to admit, I was all into break dancing and the deplorable electronic beat cacophony supposedly called “music” that accompanied it. I could moonwalk in circles, do the wave, windmills, and spin on one arm. I am sure those who know me personally are reading this with wide-eyed wonderment.
On top of all that breakin’ and poppin’, I wore clothing gear which distinguishes a bona fide break dancer from the loser wanna-bes. I had the baggy, parachute breeches (for optimal twisting and spinning), the hooded sweat shirts (in case I had to jump down to the floor and spin on my head), the converse tennis shoes (only the best when you moonwalk), and the Japanese flag bandannas wrapped around my ankles (they kept me from getting tripped up with the baggy, parachute pants). I am sure there are photos somewhere.
When my family moved to Arkansas during the summer between my 9th and 10th grade year of school, we began attending the Free-will Baptist Church where my mother’s side of the family went. It was here that I learned Christians are suppose to have a disdain for pop music and a divine hatred of heavy metal.
Both genres were considered “secular” and the music was really just Satan breaking wind. I further was told the devil was attempting to brainwash me by inserting backward, Satanic messages in pop and rock music. He also wanted to control my body by having the drum beat go against my physiology. I was troubled by the revelation of this information, so I began a personal study about the dangers of rock music.
So, let me pause here and with my next post on this subject, I will share a bit about my adventures in fundamentalist criticism of secular music.