Saturday, July 08, 2006

When Music and Advertising Enter The Beggar's Den

To Sean Dietrich,

Recently, in Frank Marron’s guest blog entry on Chemnitz and the Council of Trent, you left the following comment in response:

"Hey, I enjoyed your blog. Thanks for being honest and open about everything. I love Jesus and love reading about people who know him too. I am a musician and I would be honored if you would check out my music. All my music is free for download. Anyway, I don't mean to be a pest, just thought I'd share.Thanks,-Seanwww.SeanDietrich.com"All my muisc is free."

I was initially suspicious your comment above is spam. I found your same comment on two other blogs. While, I don’t think you are bulk spamming Blogger, I do think your comment still qualifies as spam. You’re advertising your music on blogs by responding to articles that have nothing to do with the topics. Now, I visit other blogs and comment sometimes. Out of respect for the hard work people do in keeping up a blog, I comment on what they’ve written.

Of course, you are welcome here to post comments, or even direct folks to songs you think are relevant to the discussion. I’m not against music- I began playing guitar when I was 13 (which means I’ve been playing for a long time). I have a Gibson Les Paul and a Gibson L-4. In the last ten years I’ve been interested in mastering an instrument called the Chapman Stick (pictured Left being played by Emmett Chapman).

But, the insight for you comes from Frank Marron. Frank responded to your music using Luther’s Glory/Cross paradigm, a paradigm that I find profound and most Biblical:

Sean,

I checked out your tunes. Thanks for inviting me to listen to your music! I am a gust blogger on this site, and so I may not speak for everyone who reads and posts here. But since you asked my opinion, let me be honest with you.

First, you are obviously a talented musician with a God given gift for music. I am not blessed in this department, although I sing to the best of my ability in church each week.

I was not born a Lutheran, but joined the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 1978. I did not enjoy traditional Lutheran hymns at that time and when I relocated back to Seattle for job related reasons in 1984, it wasn’t long before I left that church body. I spent several years in different church homes and was very satisfied with a musically inclined Charismatic church, where the music was contemporary Praise and wonderful. Years and a lot of heartache later I rejoined the LCMS for theological reasons. I came to realize that most contemporary church music, while appealing to modern ears, is theologically incorrect and not in tune with orthodox beliefs. I maintain that if a talented individual such as yourself could ever bridge the gap between modern tunes and Word-of-God lyrics, the product would be tremendous. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain modern songs that are just fine, such as Josh Groban’s hit a couple of years ago(You Lift Me Up). Let me explain. Your tunes and voice are just great, but the lyrics will not appeal to a Lutheran because they are the words of a Theology of Glory. Your words largely exemplify Decision Theology rather than the Theology of the Cross. Here are some examples:

1. “I Wanna Be A Christian”. Certain lyrics used indicate that if you don’t do what God says in His Word you are a fake and not a true Christian. This is Theology of Glory, not the Cross because God’s Word says no one can keep God’s Law the way he must, which is perfectly in thought, word, and deed. In fact, the Law of God, although perfect, is intended primarily to show us that we cannot keep it and to drive us to despair and ultimately Christ! Obedience to God’s commandments does not determine if a person is a Christian, but rather REPENTANCE over their sin and constant awareness of the need for the Savior, Jesus Christ. Christians are no different than other people, except they are aware of their sin and are continually REPENTANT over this.

2. “Will I Give My Best”. This song’s lyrics indicate that a person should give his best for Jesus because Jesus did that for him. Once again, this is Theology of Glory stuff. The Scriptures are clear that all we have to offer God is our sin. That is the only thing we really have to offer. As the Psalm says, God does not want sacrifices and offerings from us, but rather a broken and contrite heart. God is interested in an entirely New Creation, because our old self prior to conversion is only worthy of condemnation.

3. “Here I am”. There was one good line here “Nothing you can do can make Me love you less”. This is true. God IS love and has shown this by dying for sinners who were hostile to him, not “good” people who welcomed him. However, the line that contained the words that God wants to be our friend is theologically lame. God is our Father.He sent His Only Begotten Son to die for us. He doesn’t merely want to be an earthly “friend” but our Savior. He wants to clothe us with His blood, His Righteousness, which becomes ours through the vehicle of Faith. Which in turn comes by hearing the Gospel.

4. “Nothing Special”. I wasn’t sure of the lyrics here but kept hearing “I’m nothing special…it feels so right”. Theologically, since Christ died for us, we are extremely valuable. We are His adopted sons, inheritors of all the promises of God, which are Yes! And Amen! In Christ. Our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. Christians are indeed very special to God. We are His holy nation, chosen people, where He lives on earth, etc…

I hope you take these comments in the manner they were intended, which is in Christian honesty and love. You see, a lot of Christian denominations will love your songs, including the lyrics. But not Lutherans, for the reasons mentioned above.

Frank Marron

Sean, take the time to read through Frank's comments and digest them, and by all means respond to them. Don't simply think Frank's comments are "sectarian". The better your theology is, the better your music will be. I suggest getting involved in a church with pastors who can read over your lyrics to make sure they're theologically correct. Also take the advise from Churchmouse:

"Have you read Steve Camp's The 107 Theses: A Call for Reformation for Contemporary Christian? I think you will find it very interesting. If you haven't done so already, you can read it here."

6 comments:

Churchmouse said...

Jim,

The little green monster has arisen. You own a Les Paul? I use to have a 1954 Les Paul Black Beauty during my rocker days. In the 70's, I borrowed it to a friend of mine to play at a nightclub and, of course, wherever it went I went. Turns out there were a lot of minors at the club and the cops came, arrested a few, some got away, and they padlocked the place. I thought not to worry, I can go back the next day and get my stuff (which included some pedals and an Earth amp), but no go. Turns out there was some law which closes down the place and confiscates all equipment therein. Needless to say, I was in tears. Tried as I might, but couldn't get it back. I assume they probably sold it at an auction. I also had a '66 Fender Mustang which another "buddy" stole and sold to make a payment on his motorcycle. I should have had him arrested but when you're a stoner you make some pretty bad decisions :-(

Nowadays, I mess around with my kid's Fender Strat and a pretty decent sounding guitar by a little known maker called Carlo Robelli. Other then that, I rarely play anymore.

Peace,
Ray

James Swan said...

Great story Ray- I have a whole bunch like that- like the time the cops were coming in the front door of the club while I and my equipment were going out the back. I counted like 5 cop cars as I was driving away. I think I waved.

Most of free time is spent in study. I rarely play these days. I'll be back taking a class via Westminster in September, which means my free time will be even less.

I miss music, but I thank God for the opportunity to play as many years as I did.

I am left handed- so my Les Paul is Lefthanded. I had to reverse the strings on the L-4, which probably kills its value, but at least I can play it.

With the Chapman Stick, I couldn't figure out how to reverse the strings, so I learned how to play it right handed- this means my left hand is a little weaker in fretting notes (the left covers the bass end of the stick), while my right flies.

I have enough amplifiers to be heard by my entire town. The Stick is stereo, so I use two SWR amp heads and 4 speaker cabinets. Of course, I have a few smaller amps when I don't need the big rig. I can hardly carry the big rig these days anyway.

I listen to very eclectic music, and i've always struggled to find Christian music I like. The last thing i heard that really knocked me out was Fernando Ortega's album "This Bright Hour".

I don't think the soundtrack to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" can be classified as a Christian album, but I like the songs.

I'm a big jazz guy- John Mclaughlin, Jonas Hellborg, John coltrane, Miles Davis- But i like other things as well. My latest love is Indian percussion and vocal drumming.

James Swan said...

Just an FYI- I sent the link of this blog entry to Sean.

Churchmouse said...

Hey Jim, what year is your L-4? I love the sound of hollow body electric jazz guitars, especially those made by Gibson.

About 20 years ago, a friend of mine gave me an old Fender Villager 12-string that he found in an alley. Whoever had it literally painted all over it (a mural in the back with a silhouette of Christ looking towards 3 crosses, with the words "Love of Another Kind"). It's in pretty bad shape and has a few cracks in the front. I'm thinking of having it restored, but am wondering if it's beyond restoration. This guitar literally has a metal pipe within the guitar. I guess it's to support the tension from the strings.

Yes, nowadays I prefer softer sounds then the music I listened to back in the 70's. I like Jazz although I prefer Brubeck, Ritenour, Klugh, etc. I love Christian artists such as Caedmon's Call, Third Day, and Derek Webb. And, as do you, I have a thing for the O Brother Where Aren't Thou soundtrack and movie. I think Alison Krauss would qualify as the only Christian on the soundtrack, but that bluegrass sound is addicting.

Peace,
Ray

James Swan said...

Sean Responds:

Hi,
I just want to apologize if I offended anyone for posting a comment on the blog. Truly I meant no harm, so I am sorry that I came off as an annoyance.

I totally understand where you are coming from and why you feel the way you do.

I appreciate the critiques and I will examine my heart before God and truly try to take what was said to heart. Thanks for letting me know what you thought about the music, I really do appreciate all types of feedback. I value honest and real comments from real brothers who know Jesus, and I
appreciate you taking the time to listen to the music.

I certainly didn't mean to instigate anyone into irritation, and I am sorry. I am not familiar with Lutheran traditions, creeds or theology, and I did
not mean to assault it.

Thanks for being so honest with me.
I really do apologize.
-Sean

FM483 said...

James,

I found Sean's apology sincere and interesting. Your earlier comments regarding Luther's distinction between Theology of Glory versus Theology of the Cross was on target. Apparently comments similar to the ones I made regarding his song lyrics are foreign to his ears! This is always disturbing to hear, since my comments were not Lutheran or as you called it "sectarian", but rather biblical. The history of Christianity in America over these past 200 years involves confusion between Law and Gospel and consequently many heretical philosophies have flourished. All the lyrics in these songs to one extent or the other illustrate the heresy of Decision Theology, which denies the biblical truth that all men are born spiritually depraved and cannot by their own power or will come to God and receive the forgiveness won by Christ on the cross. My personal journey out of Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity into the Church of the Reformation is due to the Word of God alone. There were just too many contradictions and downright heresies involved in Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism for me to continue in these denominations. If Sean follows your advice and reads my comments, searches the Scriptures, asks questions, and THINKS about it, he should logically come to a similar conclusion as I did years ago. Unfortunately, most people continue in the footsteps of the family heritage they were born into, regardless of what the Scriptures clearly say.

Frank Marron