Christian music: More than religion

Story by Thom Fountain

I’m sure you’ve all seen commercials for worship CDs. They undoubtedly consist of a man with a shaved head playing an acoustic guitar wearing a plain-colored T-shirt, often singing a call-and-response number to thousands of adoring fans who are swaying back and forth with candles in hand.

I understand why people have created such a stigma against Christian music.

I myself am not particularly religious. I was raised Catholic, but like many college students, I have fallen out of a routine practice. However, recently I’ve been realizing a vast majority of the music I listen to has religious themes running throughout, some to the point that, given a plain lyrics sheet, you might think it was a worship song.

No one can deny the effect religion has had on the music we listen to today, with the roots of jazz and blues being in Southern Gospel churches. What’s so offensive about musicians turning back to that influence? If nothing else, a song with deep religious intentions promises the singer will be invested and that the subject matter is close to his or her heart and soul.

Artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Mountain Goats wear their religion on their sleeves but have avoided the Christian music label. Eau Claire itself seems to have a strong spiritual showing in some of its best songwriters: The Daredevil Christopher Wright, Cedarwell and The Cloud Hymn, among others. These groups sing about the Bible and a fear of God, sure, but they do so in such an admirably catchy and beautiful way that it makes it hard not to listen.

The fact is, religion is one of those deeply embedded qualities in certain people, and it will naturally seep out into their creativity. Jason Sunde of The Daredevil Christopher Wright said it best in a recent interview with The Spectator.

“I would say we’re a band, and some of us happen to be Christian,” Sunde said. “You write about what you know.”

Condemning artists for their song subjects or religious beliefs is like hating a movie because of the characters’ names. If you hear a musician has religious connotations, listen to the music before you judge whether you like it or not. You don’t have to agree with a singer, but if the music moves you, don’t be afraid to enjoy it.

And I promise, you don’t have to sway.

Fountain is a sophomore liberal studies major and Currents editor for The Spectator.