Thursday, July 2, 2009

Re-Views

So I don't normally read a lot of reviews of our music.... but I came across a review of the single "Live Life Loud" that fascinated me on so many levels - here it is:

Horrible.
by Soldier of Christ

What left is there to complain about the hypocrisy here? The lyrics make no sense. They are not Christian. All your basically saying is dance and scream. How does that praise Jesus? Also, as I've noticed before some people give negative feedback for me (and others) saying stuff like this is unacceptable. If so, you are just being ignorant of the fact that is unacceptable and living in denial. Go ahead but I don't think Jesus will agree with your poor decision making. I'd also advise you stop listening "I Can Only Imagine" and songs similar 'cause it won't be easy to get to that.


Now, I almost don't even know where to start here.

First off, this guy (and I'm assuming it's a guy from the tone of his writing... could be wrong) has every right to his opinion. If he wants to say we're the ugliest, most awful, unoriginal band in the world, that's fine with me. Sticks and stones, and all that.

That being said.... What on earth is his point? I mean, I can understand him expressing that "dance and shout" lyrics aren't spiritual enough for him... no problem there.... but what the heck is that last sentence about? What does "I Can Only Imagine" have to do with this.... and is he telling people not to listen to that song either? That's about the most spiritual song I can imagine (forgive the pun - I couldn't help myself).

Maybe it doesn't help that he's at about a 5/10 rating on the my-sentences-make-sense-o-meter. I would probably take him more seriously if he didn't seem so intent on destroying the english language along with our song's iTunes rating. Haha.

All that aside....... the stone throwing... the complete disregard for grammar..... it brings back the familiar question -

"What is Christian Music?"

There seem to be so many different ways to approach this question... Because up until just a couple decades ago, Christian Music meant hymns, and songs for the church. Somewhere in the last 40 years or so, Christians started taking their music outside the walls of the church....

Artists like Larry Norman (one of my heroes, and I'm proud to say I've shaken his hand) wrote songs like "Why Should the Devil Have All The Good Music?" What a profound statement! He was into rock n' roll, and wondered why there weren't any believers making music that was exciting like that.... so he decided to make some himself. Now THAT is stepping out in faith!

Since then, though, I will admit the lines have been blurred. Bands have flirted with the idea of "We're not a Christian band, we're Christians in a band", and clearly non-Christian bands have been expected to act Christian because of their label, management, or other business affiliations (The Juliana Theory is one example). Many bands have grown uncomfortable with the terms "Christian Band" or "Christian Music". I can understand that..... it puts preconceived notions into someone's mind when they hear that.... but these terms aren't easily avoided...

A man I respect greatly, Jon Foreman, once said... "Christianity is not a genre, it's a lifestyle." I admire his point of view, but if the rest of the world sees Christian Music as a genre, then that's exactly what it is, isn't it? Even if ideally, it shouldn't be?

These are all thoughts I wrestle with, and I admit that I have more questions than answers.

I recognize that I play guitar in a band that is primarily a fun, let's-have-a-party type band.... And while we certainly strive to have more depth and meaning to what we do (partnering with Toms shoes, Hands & Feet Project, talking to kids at shows, talking about Jesus on stage), we are, and will always be a "fun" band (although I think those who know us and really investigate our music can clearly see there is more than "dancing and shouting").

Personally, I think that's far from "unacceptable". I think God is big enough to have more than one way of doing things. I know he can simultaneously use the Baptists, the Lutherans, the Pentecostals, and the unchurched believers..... So I wholeheartedly believe that he can simultaneously use bands like Hillsong United, Jeremy Camp, Hawk Nelson, and Flyleaf.

My God is BIG.... Bigger than prejudice and pretense. He sees straight to the heart... and that is both terrifying and heartbreaking and redeeming. In my life, I've seen him use the most unexpected things to bring about his kingdom.... The big and small. The intentional and the accidental. The glorious and the tragic.

That's the kind of God we both serve, and know on a personal level. That is staggering.

That is also why reviews like this can only make me chuckle.

36 comments:

Ida said...

AMAZING!
I love that Larry Norman song!
And I love Jon Foreman.
Why shouldn't people dance and shout, in Psalms it says "that I will become even more undignified." Shouting in dancing can be a form of not being dignified.

Jon that review made me laugh too.. People can stereotype, but that doesn't mean they're always right...

explosion said...

I personally love Live Life Loud. It's such a catchy song. Screaming and shouting can be used for God. :) So can dancing. Which is what I love about Hawk nelson.

Don't let negative reviews get you down. You still have fans that love you either way.

the Shark said...

that's such a good jon foreman quote.

tyler h said...

Hey Jon,
my name is Tyler and I write a little oneline magazine called christinanmusiczine and I also write for indievisionmusic.com
both sites get a lot of comments when we cover different kinds of bands and there always seems to be a discussion on how "Christian" certain bands are. I think it comes down to the fact that people are in different parts of their lives with their walks with God. Some are more mature than others. The internet has a funny way of bringing that out in people a lot easier. Some people can listen to secular music and still be super close to God, while others can't get anywhere near anything that doesn't praise Jesus in the music or they are stumbled. I think it is easy for either to jump on the other and point fingers, but the reality is that we have to trust that Jesus is doing something in their lives whereever they are at with Him and our job is just to encourage them, edify them, pray for them (in a non-prideful way, not one of those "I know I'm better than them so please God make them like me" type of way haha)and then we just trust God to mold them. I write reviews and I realize that at the end of the day I'm just one guy with an opinion, one that can be used either for me or for God and I hope that people would give me a little grace when I write something stupid. This guy wrote something stupid. Sometimes people write stupid things about me. I think the best thing for us to do is trust in our relationship with Christ and let Him defend us. I didn't mean for this post to be so long haha and I hope that made some sense. thanks Jon, I'm looking forward to the new album

Victory said...

Wow... I think that review is as a result of ignorance. That person has not heard your previous songs; my opinion is that a person should know more about an artist before they criticize the artist.

Anyways, I hope that didn't make you sad. Your music is amazing. I love Hawk Nelson a lot because you guys literally saved my life. Long story short....Grandma died....I couldn't take the grief.... Bottle of painkillers... Not good. Anyways, have a great day Jonathan.

Anonymous said...

That guy has no clue what he's talking about. Christian bands aren't required to write every single one of their songs about God. Being a Christian band is what the band represents, and setting examples of others. It's not like you're writing songs about getting drunk and partying like that. Plus, just like bands like FF5, you can praise Jesus in all kinds of ways, like screaming and dancing. Or as Soul Glo puts it, "shaking your badonkadonk for Jesus". Rock on guys, and don't listen to reviews. Listen to your fans.

Taylor Napier said...

Wow....Good for you Jonathan...
you really can't let people like that get to you, b/c they have no idea what they are talking about...
if they would come to one of your shows or actually listen to your all's music, they would know what your all about.

Love,
Taylor

Kaitlyn said...

I completely agree with you, Jon.
Also, being a Christian and not composing all worship songs or songs blatantly about God does not mean that one's songs are not about Him. The quote from Jon Foreman is such a fantastic quote, because Christianity is a lifestyle and although a song might not be praising God outright it may demonstrate a struggle (or in many cases, love for a girl/guy) and how the writer is dealing with the emotions that they are feeling. I love many bands, especially Hawk Nelson, that have a blend of songs about God and about life in general because it demonstrates how a Christian lifestyle works, we are not perfect and things come up where God is working in us so quietly and strongly that we do not notice.

I think your music is fantastic AND original. God bless dude.

christena said...

i hate when people think that GOOD music can't possibly be Christian. if all of the positive music out there was all like really worshippy and boring, not as many people would be reached. i think with bands like you and Family Force 5 and Flyleaf, a lot more people are open to Christian music, and realize that Christians can be cool. i know that i personally really grew in my relationship with God after i started listening to your music and other Christian rock, because i could just relate to everything the songs are about. you can't really do that with this guy's idea about what Christian music should be.

James Frederick Gary said...

I wish that people would stop putting God in a box. Saying this is the way my God works. This is what my god can do but he cant do that. Art is not from the world it is from the heart. In which my god formed in me for his greater glory.


Words in a song are important to me but not more than the heart. I could sing great is our god forever but until i mean it it means nothing to God. I can jump up and down screaming and shouting words no one understands but God knows my heart and thats what rilly matters.


You have a great band and I know God is using you to grow his kingdom. I could only hope to win as many souls as you have. Thank you keep up the great work.

SwissGirl said...

I appreciate that you took the time to explain and help out many people who may have a bad opinoin on Christian music these days (I AM NOT ONE OF THEM).

Janet Vartan said...

The first thing I noticed was that they used the wrong your, it should have been you're.
That made me laugh.
&
I know what the last sentence of his "review" meant. Well, he's telling you to stop listening to I Can Only Imagine because he thinks it won't be easy for you to get to heaven because of the hypocrisy of your music and blah blah blah.(but when is it ever easy for anyone?)He is kind of telling you that by listening to that you are just getting your hopes up on getting to heaven...
Yeah that person needs to spend a lot less time writing nonsensical reviews.

Christine said...

omg there are sooo many ppl like that. i see that kind of stuff all over and it drives me CRAZY. well i dont have much to say, ppl already said it. lool.

Anonymous said...

You guys are FAR from just screaming and shouting. Even if not all your songs are about God, your songs are about good things and you do have some really good Christian baised songs. The other songs are morally good. Wich id hard to find! Keep doing what your doing love you guys!!!

Anonymous said...

Life happens, and I'm glad there's bands out there who have gone through the same stuff. It really brings hope to all of us who are just trying to get through.

And a word to the one who wrote that reveiw, "Judge not, lest yea be judged".

God bless you and the rest of HN, and just know that one review doesnt change how much the rest of us really love you all. So keep at it:)

God bless and God be with,

-Sarah

JDM3 said...

I like the way that bloggers think they don't have to type or spell properly. Or, maybe they are just products of the American public education system. Anyway, keep on praising the Lord and writing intelligent posts like this one. Also, thank that Hawk Nelson dude for being my friend.

Mary Graham said...

I love this, Jon. You are absolutely right. Very insightful and wise. You stay after it. Hawk Nelson is FABULOUS and I love you all.

Stevie Jeanine said...

see, what i think some people need to realize is that it's possible to sing FOR God without actually singing ABOUT God...if a band has Christian morals and praises God, knowing that He is the one and only true deity, then it shouldn't matter if they're singing about Jesus or running through the streets screaming...as long as the song isn't offensive in any way, there shouldn't be any need for people doubt the faith of the band...that's just my opinion, though

beffy <3 said...

Jon, again short blog. Beautiful writing. Dude I want some tips! And personally, who says you can't praise Jesus while jumping, dancing, and shouting? Be proud to praise. I quote from the song itself:
"Don't make a sound if you don't believe..."
So why should we sing those quiet songs all the time?

Nic said...

Jon,
This guy is ridiculous. Honestly Live Life Loud is a great song and I love what you guys do. I am christian, but in my opinion gospel music is for church. I would rather listen to bands like you that don't over do the Christianity part. Maybe its just me, I don't know. But that's all beside the point, why would someone write a comment like that on a Hawk Nelson song????!? I mean seriously if they want to listen to gospel then go listen to gospel music like Leeland or something. I'd say blow this guy of, obviously he needs a lesson on song choices (and grammar) haha. Anyway I love the song and I'm super stoked about the upcomming record!! KEEP ROCKING JON!!

Nicole said...

Jonathan,
I just wanted to thank you and the rest of Hawk for your amazing music. I picked up your last album a few weeks before my Grandpa died and it helped me get through the toughest weeks of my life. "I still miss you" still brings me to tears. Thanks for all that you do and for being such a great inspiration.

Hannah Rae said...

God gave us the ability to make music. It is an instrument to praise God with. Personally I think God loves it when we dance and shout for him.
Great blog Jon ;}

K[R!ot] said...

Jon,
that was beautifully written, and well said.. I agree with you a hundred and ten percent. You guys have brought me so close to the Lord, your music has helped me through so much, and I can't thank you guys enough. Your music is fun, happy, and you can dance to it but it does have some serious parts and thats what I love about you guys. Your music has variety, and it praises God, and I know you guys love Jesus- it's obvious.

Your new record is going to be amazing- and I just know it.
God is using you guys!!!!
and I pray that he continues to throughout the years ;D..

Anonymous said...

I think that teens need a good band that isn't all christian songs and worship songs.. but yet still have a good meaning to them and aren't all about sex and drugs. It's so nice to have you guys along with many others be included in that category. Keep up the good work :)

Christina said...

Some ppl seem to be narrow minded and if something doesn't fit with their idea of "Christian" than it mustn't be...
We have put GOd in a box and put a label on Him... so when something comes along (such as ur awesome band/song) that doesn't fit in the box we created than it mustn't be God...
I imagine God laughing at us and our silly labels and rules..

and partying with us :P

Thanks for the music and good times :)

Rachel Joy said...

Unacceptable? I'm sorry, but who put you in charge of what is and is not acceptable? I dunno... He's entitled to his opinion, but shoving it on other people... not so cool... Also, in listing amazing, Christian bands, you left out Relient K, Underoath, Attack Attack (who, by the way, even thought they're a full-on screamo band, sing most of their lyrics ABOUT God! Check 'em out!!!), The Devil Wears Prada, Family Force 5, and a TON other!! Why should the devil have all the good music? Answer: With bands like these, HE DOESN'T!! YAY!!

Rachel Joy said...

BTW: In saying "you" in my last comment, I was addressing the unruly reviewer, not Jon... Cuz Jon is awesome...

graciegirl said...

thas juss weird.......
i mean he IS entitled to his opinion but...... umm...... wow.
major bashing goin on to say the least...... ah well.

p.s....
i like the pun ;)

James5521 said...

Amazing Jon I agree with ida Jon Forman is amazing and I can't wait for the new album and I studied u enough to know lol well keep doing what your doing cause u guys are amazing

Anonymous said...

What's really sad is that I looked up what this person reviewed on itunes and basically he just looks at any christian rock song or album and talks about how rock is completely evil. Don't listen to him. You're exactly right about how you can praise God by dancing and shouting. Live Life Loud is a great song. I'd ask everyone on here to pray for this person. Thanks for making great music and God bless!

Riley Smiley said...

That guy is crazy

when i go to your concerts and when i listen to your music there's something there that you can tell is christian

but i do think some bands who call themselves christian and some people who say they're christian do abuse that term and give nonbelievers the wrong idea of what we're all about

by the way live life loud is great...
so is Family Force 5
Keep up the good work HN i love y'all

Brock Jamieson said...

I don't agree with the way the reviewer stated his opinion or his opinion as a whole, but I also would like to issue a word of caution to the whole "My God is BIG.... Bigger than prejudice and pretense. He sees straight to the heart" idea, to quote Jonathan.

First of all, we are dealing with God. Big, is not a good way to describe him. He is the Sovereign, all powerful creator who gives all people life for the purpose of His glory. He is fully Holy; a holiness that when displayed causes men to fall on their faces as though dead. - We must be careful to assume that He accepts all things that we call worship. He does not. He has been very particular in the way He works, look as Salvation: One way, through Christ alone. I agree with dancing and shouting in worship: I hope that the awesome glory of God that is revealed in Jesus Christ and the Gospel causes us to do these things! But, to quote Soul Glo, "shaking your badonkadonk for Jesus", due to its definitely sexual connotations, is not acceptable. God never ordained sexual immorality for His glory. I'm not trying to say that this is what Soul Glo meant with this statement, but I'm trying to draw out that there are God-given boundaries to our Freedom. May you praise God with passion, in purity. Peace.

Jonathan said...

Brock....

I stand by every word of what I was quoted as saying in your comment. God IS big. He IS bigger than prejudice or pretense... and He DOES see straight to the heart. I agree with you also that He is Sovereign.

First, If you have a problem with my choice of words when I describe God as "BIG".... then you're welcome to take issue with it. I can't possibly see how that would be a bad description.

Secondly, if you have an issue with Soul Glo's quote, why don't you take it up with him? I don't believe I ever said it, quoted it, or made any reference to it...

Jonathan

Brock Jamieson said...

Jonathan,

When I saw your post, it sparked my interest because I have been involved in the discussion over what defines Christian music since high school. It came up as I played in Christian Punk bands and I enjoy discussing it with people who are passionate about worshiping God through music. As I read through the comments on your post I noticed that everyone disagreed with the reviewer you mentioned (which I do as well) and that there was an emphasis on God accepting a wide variety of expressions since God looks at the heart (which I also agree with).

It concerned me when some posts took this idea to an extreme, one of these being the quote from Soul Glo which was posted by Anonymous on July 2, 2009 at 12:50 PM. The obvious connotations of "shaking your badonkadonk" would put this expression outside of God's accepted expressions.

I used your quote because it seemed to capture the general aim of the comments, emphasizing our freedom of expression. Unfortunately, I guess it made it appear that I was taking issue with you personally. For that I apologize. But I do have a problem with your use of the word big in describing God. It is extremely vague. Does it mean that He is big enough to accept all expressions as worship because He looks at the sincerity of the heart? Even chaos? What do you not mean by it? In our current culture of Nominal American Christianity (I'm a Canadian in Chicago), the terms, "God is big" and "He looks on the sincerity of the heart" often get twisted into a cop-out for discernment among Christians. Not to use the slippery slope fallacy, but this often leads to the belief that God is so BIG and focuses so much on sincerity that the expression does not matter at all - as long as you are a sincere Buddhist, a sincere Muslim etc - then you are acceptable to God. This does not fall in line with Christ's teaching which is orthodox Christianity. Now, in NO WAY do I attach this extreme to you - I do not know you personally.

I just wanted to point out the other side, that God has specific ways for us to act, even in our freedom of worship (in ref. to worship, Paul states in 1 Cor. 14:40 "But all things should be done decently and in order.") - and these ways glorify Him. "Shaking your badonkadonk" does not. Peace man.

StillWatersDesign said...

I feel bad, but I agree about the grammer! It does make it hard to take someone seriously when they can't even write clearly.
I think we make christian music more complicated than it really is; I think it should simply glorify God. And, having fun while you do it is just fine!

Anonymous said...

I'm not Christian, but I am a firm believer that everyone has their own version of God, and that any positive religion is acceptable to fill one's spiritual needs. I like to listen to "Christian" music, like Relient K, Superchick, Family Force 5, and so on and so forth. I also like to listen to "mainstream" music like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Saves the Day, Green Day, etc, which brings me to my point. People say, 'if you're not Christian, then why do you listen to Christian music, hun?" (I also get a lot, 'so, if you're not Christian, are you a satanist?' I don't even believe in a devil sort of being, so that really ticks me off)
I really like Hawk Nelson's new album, and I say you should keep it up, I really like the new direction.
People need to stop stereotyping and labeling other people. I'm sure that the Lord and Lady of my belief, and God of Christianity, and so on and so forth, are laughing at humans for being so shallow.