Monday, November 15, 2010

The Much-Debated Existence of Gwar

So last night was the final night of our Fly Me To The Show tour. Fun times were had by all.... Maybe a little TOO fun! Haha. The evening gradually descended into the realm of prank night, with various bands pulling stunts on each other. Haha. Prank night is always a blast.

For example, Paul, the audio guy on the tour, ran up on stage dressed up as a crazed hawk fan, complete with an ensemble of hawk apparel, and demanded each of our autographs during a song. Earlier, the entire tour joined John Reuben in his little interlude sway/dance. Britt Nicole and her drummer Josh decided to prank us by writing "What stinks up here? Who farted?" on a white board and bringing it on stage. Of course, Jas turned it around on her when she pointed to herself to claim responsibility for the joke... Jas yelled "It was Britt!" Also, the entire tour joined us on stage for a group rendition of our song "Ode to Lord Stanley".

It was a fairly loose, laid back evening, with a ton of crazy stuff going on. As the evening got crazier, Jas explained to the crowd that it's the last night of tour, and that's why the show is so unusual.... I commented to the crowd that it would be crazy to see a band that's already nuts on their last show of tour.... Like Gwar or some crazy band like that. I brought up Gwar because they're probably the most extreme example of a band that is known for having absolutely over-the-top shows. I made that comment, and thought nothing of it.

Well after the show, a young man comes up to us during signing and asks, "Who thought it was a good idea to bring up Gwar at a Christian Concert?" I quickly claimed responsiblity for the comment, and he proceeded to ask me why I thought it was appropriate to bring up a band like Gwar in front of an audience of Christians.... He suggested that I should have used Underoath or Norma Jean as an example instead, because they're Christian bands.

This young man is clearly serious about his faith, and I commend him for that... But what he is implying is that as a Christian musician, I have a responsibility to act as if Christian music is the only music in existence. He is confronting me on my "reality infraction" because I referenced a band that is not Christian, and therefore, not a part of his perception of the world.

The thing is, I have never even listened to Gwar. I don't know the name of a single song, album, or member. I've never seen them live or on TV... but because I'm in my twenties, I live in North America, and I'm ALIVE... I am aware of their reputation for having insane live shows, and it was that reputation I was referring to in my comment. Am I endorsing them or their behavior? No! I simply referenced their reputation.

This would hardly be blog-worthy if it was an isolated incident.... but because the 4 of us in Hawk Nelson are Christians, and we play primarily Christian events, we come across people like this fairly often.

Recently we played at a "Christian club" where the venue refused to let our crew guys test the audio system with "non-Christian" music. This interfered with them doing their job, because they use the same songs to test the system every day. That's how they ensure some level of consistency from show to show. The venue ended up clearing their staff out of the venue for 20 minutes to allow our crew to do their job.... because they didn't want their staff to be "exposed to secular music". I mean, it's commendable sentiment, but who decides what's Christian or not? Is U2 Christian? Is Switchfoot? Is Thrice? What makes a band Christian or not? Having Christians in the band? Being on Christian radio?

Fundamentally, what on earth is wrong with listening to music created by non-Christians? Is it fair to make such a blanket rule against it? Shouldn't every piece of music, every artist, every song, stand for itself?

I guess this whole line of thought leads me to a place where I start to question the spirit behind it all.... I tend to think that when we start to allow a spirit religion to rule our lives, it's easy to miss the core of what God intends. When we rely on rules, regulations, and guidelines to rule our lives and "keep us out of trouble", we can miss some of the freedom that Salvation brings.

I'm reminded that when Jesus walked the earth, the people he was most critical of were the Pharisees... The religious institutions..... The people that made rules and protocols more important than the heart behind them. Clearly from this example, it's possible to follow all the religious rules, and still miss the point. The Pharisees sure did.

So I ask myself, who am I more like? The Pharisees or the Disciples? Am I more like the religious clerics who are all about rules, protocols, and establishments? Or am I more like the ragtag band of Jesus-followers that wanted nothing more than to follow Him? That's a question every believer should wrestle with.

I would never claim to have it all figured out, and I certainly don't have all the answers for some of these difficult questions. These are things that we each need to wrestle with for ourselves.... As I've wrestled with them, these are some of the thoughts I've come to. Maybe you will come to different ones.... but what's important is the struggle.

Wisdom is knowledge that is fought for and earned. It costs us something, and that's why it's so valuable.



Ida Lou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ida Lou said...

AMEN AMEN AMEN!!!! Preacchhh itt!! I need a white hankey for that one there!!!
Being a youth pastor's daughter I've seen a lot of people get hung up over "nonChristian" music.
People may not be glorifying God with their music, but it's still the gift he's given them, and they somehow learned how to utilize it. Even if they aren't using it correctly, how many people actually use the gift God has given them and discover what it is?!
I agree with you Jon, who are we to judge?
Let the person is who is perfect cast the first stone.

AJ Martin said...

It's a hard life you are living.

We had Superchick play a show on Saturday and at one point during their set, they played the chorus from "Just Dance". You'd think they just renounced Christ and had a seance on stage. The reaction was unbelieveable!

I always found it awkward to call something Christian.

"Christian Music" - Did that song say the sinner's prayer?

"Christian Movie" - Will that movie and I be kickin it together in heaven?

Yeesh! Don't get me started!

AlotlikeKARA said...

Amen!! Good post. I know I have had people come up to me sometimes and tell me that what I listen to is wrong or I'm a bad role model because I listen to Ashley Tisdale, or Rihanna, or anything even like keith Urban. So I know how that feels and I agree with everything that you said!!!


Jenna said...

I agree and I love reading your blogs. I was there last night at the concert and it was awesome! I really appreciate your testimonies and your music! And thanks for doing the acoustic performance! I loved it and can't wait to hear The Light Sides! Keep it up and hope to see you guys again soon!

Mollie said...

TOTALLY with ya on this one. I went to a private Christian school for high school and while, I did feel blessed in some respects to do so, things like this drove me (and continue to drive me) absolutely NUTS! One thing was having "big writing" on the shirts we wore. According to their rules, if we were simply following the rules, it'd be permissable to wear a shirt that said something like "I love Satan" as long as it was small lettering rather than wearing a brand name shirt with big letters. Sometimes these people start off with good intentions but somewhere just miss the point along the way. Thanks for not being afraid to speak the truth! =)

Elraen said...

Thank you for posting this. This is something I'm super passionate about, and it makes me sad when people call out the rules instead of being quiet and simply loving.

Plus, the idea that Christian art is the only art with value is immensely debatable as well. Besides the fact that then the question of where we draw the line is raised... the endless "is U2 a Christian band" debate is a good example of this.

I think we put too much emphasis on labels and definitions instead of grace.

Thanks for sharing this.

Kacie J said...

WOW Great BLOG!!
It has the right message.
I think what makes a christain a christain is that they know what they stand for and where their heart is. Same with a christain band. They know what they beleive and what they stand for. And there is nothing worng with mentioning or listening to secular music as you know whrer to "Draw the line" Like with swearing and talk of sex.
But i find nothing wrong with a band that is considered christain to talk of ones that are not or to even play at secular events. As long as you (they) know what they stand and If god says to, to share it.
I know you Hawk Guys got it going right....


Anonymous said...

Great post! There is a fine line between what you mentioned, but it needs to be defined.

Although you can not control what music is playing in a restaurant, skating rink, etc... if we, as Christians, can control it, we should choose to play music that honors God.

Also, there are some labeled "Christian" bands out there that are not playing Christian music... it doesn't mean that they are not Christian, but if they are taking their walk seriously, the outpour will songs bringing praise directly to God.

Anonymous said...

I went to a private school K-8th grade. My math class would listen to music every day during work time. We rarely played anything other than crappy pop. That doesn't mean we're all eternally darned to heck because we listened to something that wasn't preaching God's word. It's not like we ran around screaming swear words or anything like that. GO JESUS

Morgan said...

I totally agree with you Jonathan.....I know concerts I've wondered why certain bands played a secular song...but I have to realize I have no position to judge the people on stage. And I thank you guys for going on stage everyday and playing your hearts out for us even when people are judging and demeaning you.....You guys have amazing talents and I'm so glad that you are willing to share them with us.

Sister in Christ

Shannon said...

It's people with that mentality that nearly drove me away. How can we as Christians get others to accept Christ if we are busy trying to dictate how other Christians should live, what they should listen to, and how they should speak. Back in the day DC Talk pushed boundaries in our little church. Why? It was simply because of the tone of the music. It didn't matter that they were directly praising God it's because they were doing it in a way unfamiliar to the church. We need to stop trying to dictate what kind of music can touch someones life. There are many "nonChristian" songs that have personally effected me and my faith in God. I am really glad that I had met a very wise pastor in another church that reminded me that just because an artist isn't directly singing a song that they deem "Christian" doesn't mean that it couldn't have a Christian meaning to me.