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Friday, April 8, 2016

The Unpardonable Postmodern Sin


The Church around the world just celebrated Easter. And in case you did not notice, music was a big part of that celebration.

You can tell a lot about a worldview by the kind of music it produces.

If you visit a Muslim mosque, you will not see an organ or a piano. Nor an acoustic guitar. No choir will sing, nor the congregation. Why? Because devout followers of Mohammad believe music is heram, which means "illegitimate." Some mosques make an exception for vocal sounds that come out sounding like non-melodic chants. Westernized Muslims are not as strict when it comes to music, but in traditional Islam (by this I mean "fundamentalist" Islam), music-making is intentionally absent.   

Buddhists view life as a cycle of suffering caused by human desire. Salvation, for the Buddhist, is escape from suffering through extinction of desire. Joy To The World is not something you would hear in a Buddhist temple. Life is not something you celebrate. There is no personal God to sing about. The closest thing to music coming out of a Buddhist's vocal chords would be a single-note drone. Some Buddhists incorporate Western-style music into their practice, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon, introduced by Westerners converted to Buddhism.

Do you know of any music stores with a section called, "Pure Hindu Hits?"

Westerners take melody and harmony for granted. But "Western" music did not spring from a vacuum. It came from a Christian motivation that viewed music as a way of worshiping the Almighty God who dresses flowers with more colors than a King's robe. It came out of a worldview of hope and joy, which produced harmony and melody as a means of praise, thanksgiving and celebration.

Yes, "Western" music came out of Christian worship. Worship that birthed single-voice melody called “Plainsong” [which later developed into Gregorian Chant] starting in the 3rd century, then in the 9th century developing into two-voice melody, and eventually polyphony [multi-voice music]. Out of this came Handel, Bach, Beethoven, and that remarkable phenomenon we now call “Western" music.  

The next time you download that favorite song from i-Tunes, you can thank a Christian monk. Better yet, thank the living God who inspired the monks who worked to develop polyphony. Then think about what this world would be like if Christ had never been born.

In this post I have committed the unpardonable postmodern sin. I have compared the Christian worldview with others, and found the others to be wanting. In postmodern times, all worldviews are supposed to be equally good. Frankly, I don't buy it. The music tells a different story.