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Monday, July 9, 2012

What Ought I to Love?

On a family trip to Michigan, I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. It is a thought-provoking testimony of a leading LGBT university professor’s conversion to Christianity. Due to the nature of her sin, it gives insight into how the Church treats the LGBT community. It also shows how one pastor and his family’s consideration and time led her to belief and through her struggle with her own transformation by Jesus Christ. I really enjoyed the book and believe Christians would benefit from reading it and thinking about the questions she poses. She also sprinkles in good life lessons and takeaways for those who are walking with the Lord through adversity. Now to go off on a tangent that ties in with the book but is not its focus: discussing praise music on page 92, her words struck me: “The Psalms are the word of God. While hymns and praise and worship music take up themes of Christian life, we are told very clearly here that we are sanctified by the word and by the word alone.” This thought wasn’t brand new to me; I know there are churches that sing only the Psalms, and that the churches I’ve been a part of have song both Psalms and modern music. I must confess, however, that I typically gravitate to the new music, although I have an appreciation for Psalms and hymns. The reason I am still thinking about this subject is my attendance at the Society for Classical Learning’s conference last week, where I had the pleasure of listening to authors Ken Myers and James K.A. Smith discuss music and its proper place. Christians focus on praise and find meaning in the words themselves, without identifying themes or form of that praise and the meaning within that form. Modern culture has disordered music. Disordered music that is so prevalent we now find it in many worship services. Many will argue that people like modern music and we should give them what they like because God will use it. Ken Myers aptly responds that while God will use defective things, that doesn’t make the thing worthy nor something we should seek to use. Modernism rejects the idea that good education should train you to like what is good and beautiful. C.S. Lewis argues that the whole point of a classical Christian education was to train you to love what is lovely. Ken Myers went on to argue that music is rooted in morality has been rejected and objectivity rules in modern culture. I would argue that is why we have a culture of “I was born this way” so aptly sung by Lady Gaga. I am not arguing that only Psalms should be sung—I’ve not done enough research into the matter—but I do think that we should start to think about what we are exposing ourselves to and how that may affect our worldview and thought life. If our children can sing the newest Gaga song, but don’t know the Apostles Creed or the pledge of Allegiance, then we may need to rethink how we are training our children up to love what they ought. You can purchase the book here: Ken Myers and Mars Hill Audio:

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