Strange Radio Experience

I had a few minutes in the car and, though I rarely listen to radio, I turned it on today and landed on some random channel. The girl was singing with one of these wheezy helpless voices, gasping pathetically about her love for her guy and how badly she wants to be alone with him. The words — which I would not repeat here — and the sensibility were lurid, tacky, and embarrassing.

It struck me how much more provocative teenage music had become since I was young. What was once disguised is now out the open, the sexuality overt rather than implied. It was depressing. The song ended, and then came the shock: the announcer said that this was a Christian praise music station. It was supposed to be a religious song, and I suppose the listener is free to interpret it as the listener chooses: the teenager hearing what he or she wants to hear and the parents doing the same.

5 Replies to “Strange Radio Experience”

  1. I once pointed out to some peers that a lot of "Christian praise" music they listen to is what I called, and forgive the flippancy, "Do Me, Jesus" music.

    I gave them some sample fake lyrics, maybe something along the lines of:

    Oh, I love you.
    Enter in and fill me with your love.
    Hold me in your arms.
    Let me know that I'm yours.
    I can feel you move within me.
    Never let me go.
    etc. etc.
    (except probably more rhyme-y)

    The sad thing is, they seemed to indicate that, yes, they had heard lyrics just like these, but, no, it had never even crossed their minds that it sounds perverse and sexual. They were admittedly a little shocked and bashful to have this pointed out.

    You have to give them credit for their innocence, but it astounds me how little many "religious" (or worse, "spiritual") people actually think about their faith, or more specifically their expressions of faith.

    I have no doubt that the producers of this kind of music know full well that they're just selling the exact same sexual music to Christian teens that they sell to a secular audience, and they rely on "branding" and the ignorance of their audience to pass it off as "Christian" music.

  2. Well, not to be grossing you out or anything, but that's just a less articulate version of the entire mystical love/Song of Songs tradition. I'm constantly running into little chickies who've discovered that OMG, St. John of the Cross' mystical poetry is, like, hot! and that the statue of St. Teresa and the angel is like, suggestive!

    But although it may be embarrassing, tradition and Scripture says it's legitimate (although it needs care and prudence) to use romantic and sexual metaphors for the love of God and eternal happiness in the next life, just as it's legitimate to use imagery of sheepherding, royal courts, the Temple, and so forth. Some brands of imagery are more analogous and some more orthogonal than others, but they're all there. Blame God.

  3. We don't have to look too far from our own recent experiences in the Church to find the root of this kind of expression. Suburbanbanshee is correct that all these images are found in scripture. But, there is something tawdry about displaying this kind of intimacy ("spiritual" or physical) in public. It reminds me of a comment an elder gentleman made about physical love: "Son, it isn't that we didn't know about sex, nor did we think it was dirty. It was private."

    Then there is the Booth song: Here I am standing like a lover……

  4. For my dad's generation, "GET you in my dreams" (the original text) was too racy for "Goodnight Irene". In my generation, there was "Light my fire", but it still wasn't explicitly sexual. Now, I hear what my granddaughter listens to, and am shocked.As for erotic imagery, yes, we used human existence as a metaphor to understand the Unknowable God. But do we drag God down to the human in the process? Have you ever heard a piece of Christopop comparing a girlfriend's love to the love of God? Or even praising a girl for her chastity?

    But this is not new. It used to be said that the old blues musicians would do the same material on Saturday night and Sunday morning, replacing "Baby" with "Lord".

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