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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bloody Sabbath

New issue of Paste! Yeah! This is a highlight of my month!

This one's focus is on violence in music and media. One of the first articles that I've had time to read is "Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath." This article certainly took a genre of music - gospel - that I am very familiar with and looked at it through new eyes. It is really interesting to look at religion through the eyes of others. This author proposed that gospel music is arguably one of the most violent forms of music, if the lyrics are contemplated at length and by an unchurched, literal audience. For example:

"Are you washed in the blood." "There's power in the blood." "Nothing but the blood" "Alas, and did my Savior bleed." etc.

Now as believers, we understand the symbolic implications involved. I had never honestly, deeply considered how an unchurched audience could interpret our "blood songs." How's this for an answer, "Obviously, it's symbolism, but there's something kinda creepy about hundreds of people singing about blood and suffering." Or how about, "it's a trip to see these words."

This article spends time comparing gospel music to heavy metal's violent words and tries to draw some parallels between the two as far as the symbolism involved. I'm not sure that I can agree that heavy metal bands with really violent lyrics are trying to symbolically move people to a better place in their lives in quite the same way that gospel music does.

One heavy metal band, when interviewed, said they were considering turning to the Bible for inspiration for more violent songs. I somehow don't think that God's intention of including violence in the Bible, especially in some of those Old Testament stories that are so gory, was so that violence would be glorified. I think the difference in the bloody lyrics of gospel music and the bloody lyrics of other music is in the purpose of the music. Who is being glorified?

However, it was very interesting to read this perspective on gospel music. It is certainly food for thought as we consider what songs to use to reach an unchurched population. I don't know that we should give up all the "bloody" songs, but maybe we should think about how they can be interpreted and make sure that our audience understands the symbolism.

Very interesting lyrical comparisons in this article as well.... In some instances trying to distinguish between gospel and metal was impossible for me until I saw the name of the band.

Food for thought.....

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