Sunday, July 06, 2008

Radio that's "Safe for the Whole Family" Part I

While driving around town with @fiscalfitness the other day, we were inexplicably listening to one of the local Christian radio stations. A discussion ensued about various tag lines used by most contemporary Christian radio stations: "Safe for the whole family," "Positive, encouraging," "family friendly," etc., and why they aren't more overtly "Christian" in nature. Why not something like "furthering the gospel of Jesus," or "Magnifying Christ between Sundays," or "Proclaiming the good news of Jesus," etc.?

The assumption presented in the question is that these stations identify themselves as truly Christian. Maybe that isn't the case. It is easy to presume that they consider themselves such but don't want to say the name of Jesus too loudly. But before we jump on the blame-the-radio-stations band wagon, maybe we should consider the music they play. I did a very quick survey of this week's "Top 20 Christian songs" according to "20, The Countdown Magazine" and discovered some interesting things:

  • Of the top 20 songs for the week ending June 30, 2008, four of them specifically mentioned Jesus or Christ. (Fee, Casting Crowns, Matt West, Natalie Grant)
  • Six songs mentioned "God" or "Lord" or "Father" (Matt Maher, MercyMe, Tomlin, Robbie Seay Band, Tenth Avenue North, Jado Lavik)
  • Six other sings held down the pronoun ministry, using You or Your in ways that could mean just about anyone (Third Day, Jeremy Camp, Building 429, Aaron Shust, Mark Harris, Decemberadio)
  • Three songs were about things other than God or Jesus, or things clearly religious in nature (SC Chapman, Need to Breathe, Afters)
So what is the conclusion? Half of the top 20 songs for the week were not overtly about God. Sure, the artists will say they were, but they weren't overtly about God or Jesus. This proves nothing, other than the fact that the radio station tag lines are accurate after all. Their music is "positive and encouraging." They're not seeking to teach theology in their music. Is that ok? Sure, I'm very comfortable with "kingdom perspective" on activities of life outside of praise and worship music that some of these songs touch on. the problem does not appear to be what the radio stations say they're doing, not at all. The "problem," if there ever really was one, is the assumption "Christian" radio stations must play music that only talks about Jesus or God in order to be Christian. This is not the case, since the station programming doesn't even refer to itself as Christian. In essence, the issue is, there is no issue.


I do, however, have a problem with some of the lyrics presented in some of the songs listed above. This little investigation has forced me to read carefully the lyrics of each song, and I have discovered some subtle "confusion" in some of the lyrics which I will delve into in Part II.