Archive | Music

Who’s afraid of Derek Webb? (part 2)

webb2.jpg (Click here for Part 1)

When I got home from the Derek Webb concert on Tuesday night, I shot off a blog that was in protest of what I thought was an overtly left-wing political message on Webb’s new album “Mockingbird.” But I later deleted what I wrote because I came to the conclusion that Derek’s message actually deserved a little more serious consideration than I had given it. So that is why this has turned into a three part series. Continue Reading →


Who’s afraid of Derek Webb? (part 1)

webb.jpgI just returned home from a Derek Webb concert.

Derek’s venue was the Gypsy Tea Room near downtown Dallas in the area known by locals as Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum used to be the hip part of town, the place where all the young urban twenty-somethings would descend every weekend for dining, music, and club hopping. This once very popular center has declined over the past several years as most of the nightlife has moved to the new and trendy “uptown” area. Continue Reading →


Scratching My Head at Derek Webb

I love Derek Webb. I first started listening to his music in 1994 when I was in college and when he was in Caedmon’s Call. I will never forget the first time I saw Derek perform live with Caedmon’s (circa 1995). It was at Tulane University in New Orleans, and I and the other hundred or so people were mesmerized for the entire concert. When I heard Derek sing and play “Bus Driver” that night, he became my favorite of the group. It was one of the best shows I’d ever been to. Continue Reading →


Bono’s Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast

Can a rock star preach? Apparently those who head up the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. think Bono can. Last week, he spoke at the annual event with President Bush sitting close by (for a transcript click here). I would argue, however, that although there was much to commend in Bono’s remarks, there was also much to be concerned about.

We can all appreciate and affirm Bono’s desire to see the Christian church get more involved in addressing poverty and disease in Africa. We welcome the challenge that he gave to Americans to be more generous in their giving to charities that help bring relief to those who are suffering there. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has the responsibility to care for “the least of these,” and Bono has rightly called all our attention to the needy in Africa.

I fear, however, that with Bono and with many others the gospel message gets muddled in the murky waters of religious pluralism. That is, the distinctive Christian gospel too often gets shuffled to the side so as not to offend well-meaning people of other faiths with whom Christians cooperate in acts of mercy. At the breakfast, Bono’s appeal to Christian Scripture and to the Koran is a case in point of this danger. Yet, Christians derive their impulse for mercy directly from a gospel that teaches God is merciful to us through Jesus Christ crucified (Romans 12:1-2).

I’m concerned that Bono’s language can send the wrong message to a listening world. Many will hear Bono’s call (and those sympathetic with him) and will wrongly conclude that all religions are equal. They will also miss the truth that God is reconciling the world to Himself exclusively through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19).

I don’t think of Bono as an evangelical spokesman, but I do think that he has the ear of many Evangelical Christians. An article in Christianity Today, for example, called Bono’s remarks “prophetic.” Even though Bono and others may appeal to the Bible, Evangelicals should listen critically when considering messages such as his. When it comes to extending mercy to the least of these in Africa, let’s all say “amen” to Bono’s call and give until it hurts. Let us cooperate with others in extending this mercy in so far as we can do so without compromising the gospel.

But let us never forget that for Christians the centrality of Jesus Christ crucified is a non-negotiable (1 Corinthians 2:2). We should never compromise this focus in the cause of mercy. Rather, our acts of compassion should bring it into sharper view (Matthew 5:16). I’m not sure Bono has grasped this yet. Let’s hope and pray that Evangelical Christians do.

See my previous post on Bono: “Interview with Bono in CT.”

See Christianity Today’s coverage of the National Prayer Breakfast: “Bono Waxes ‘Prophetic’: Rock-star/activist inspired by Leviticus and Isaiah.”


Emerging Irony

The cover story of the most recent issue of Touchstone magazine is about Johnny Cash, and it’s written by Russell Moore. This is an excellent piece, and I highly recommend your reading it.

Scot McKnight, however, does not share my enthusiasm about Moore’s article and has criticized it here. Moore has responded to McKnight’s response here. Now McKnight has responded to Moore’s response to McKnight’s response here.

If that all sounds confusing, then let me sum it up for you. McKnight thinks that people like Moore should have been more supportive of Cash’s Christian conversion about twenty or thirty years ago. For McKnight, supporting Cash now is too little too late.

In other words, the Emergent folks don’t seem to be very tolerant of Moore’s admiration for the sinner Johnny Cash.

How ironic is that?


Russell Moore’s Review of New Johnny Cash Movie

One of the things that I love most about Russell Moore is his taste in country music. He is not nearly as much a Dixie-Chick-Keith-Urban country music fan as he is a George-Jones-Loretta-Lynn kind of a fan. He likes the old timey stuff.

That’s why I enjoyed reading his review of the new movie about Johnny Cash. Moore discusses the movie Walk the Line and generally gives it a good review. He also talks about Cash’s conversion which is not featured explicitly in the movie. The last paragraph of the review sums up Moore’s admiration for the late Johnny Cash.

My sons know Johnny Cash quite well because they hear his music around them all the time. My infant son’s lullaby each night is a Carter Family song. When they are older, we’ll watch Walk the Line. But we’ll follow it up with a reminder from Scripture that sums up Johnny and June more than celebrity can ever explain: They loved much for they were forgiven much. There was a Man in Black, not because of a marketing gimmick, but because he understood with lifelong pain what it means to descend into a “Ring of Fire” and to find a Deliverer on the other side.

Read “Walking the Line” by Russell Moore


Kanye West’s Race-Baiting Tirade

Hip-hop star Kanye West went on a tirade during NBC’s disaster relief fundraiser tonight. West and Michael Myers were paired together during a segment so that they could appeal to a nationwide TV audience to donate money to the Red Cross. After Michael Myers opened with a few remarks, Kanye West began a meandering monologue that was clearly not written on his cue card and was very difficult to understand. However, a few things came through loud and clear.

First, West made the outlandish claim that the government had given the troops in New Orleans permission to shoot black people. Second, he accused the media of racist coverage, alleging that reporters are saying that black families are looting while white families are just looking for food. Third, West punctuated his screed with an low-blow against the President: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” (the Washington Post has the entire exchange here).

I fear that West has been drinking deeply from the propaganda of the race-baiters who have been trying to exploit this tragedy for their own ends. For instance, consider Al Sharpton’s accusation on Keith Olbermann’s program just last night: “And the real question is not only those that didn‘t get out. The question is why has it taken the government so long to get in. I feel that, if it was in another area, with another economic strata and racial makeup, that President Bush would have run out of Crawford a lot quicker and FEMA would have found its way in a lot sooner” (source).

Consider also how Jesse Jackson criticized the federal response to the disaster: “How can blacks be locked out of the leadership, and trapped in the suffering? It is that lack of sensitivity and compassion that represents a kind of incompetence. . . There’s a historical indifference to the pain of poor people and black people . . . [the new media has] criminalized the people of New Orleans” by focusing on violence in the city (source).

So you see, Kanye West didn’t say anything that these race-baiters haven’t been saying all week. But West’s remarks do reveal just how reckless the rhetoric of the Jacksons and the Sharptons can be. What should have been a non-partisan appeal to the better angels of American nature turned into a counter-productive blame game.

Nevermind the fifty-percent of Americans who would take great offense at West’s parroted accusations. Nevermind the fact that such remarks might disincline some from contributing to the Red Cross disaster-relief fund. Just blame Bush and exploit the tragedy for partisan advantage. That does not sound very compassionate to me.

NBC tried to recover the good will of its viewers with the following statement that was released after the concert:

“Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person’s opinion” (source).

I am not saying that the south doesn’t have serious racial issues to confront. Believe me, we do. And I am certain I will have more to write on that topic later. But tonight, I am just troubled by the irresponsible, inflammatory statements made by West.


Pro-Life and Hip-Hop: Nick Cannon’s Amazing Video

Nick Cannon and His Mother

It’s not often that a rap video brings a tear to your eye. But my wife and I watched one tonight that did.

Some of you may know Nick Cannon from the hit movie “Drumline” or perhaps from his new show on MTV, “Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘N Out.” What you may not know is that he released a music video this summer that is powerfully pro-life.

The lyrics to the song tell the true story of Nick Cannon’s mother. When she became pregnant with Nick, she was an unwed teenager. She made it all the way to the operating table of the abortion clinic when she realized that she was about to do something awful. So she got up and walked away from the clinic and away from the abortion. The rest of the song is a “thank you” to his mother for letting him live. The video closes with Nick embracing and thanking his real-life mother.

The music video to the song “Can I Live” is one of the most poignant pro-life messages that I have ever witnessed. Reading the lyrics alone won’t really convey the emotional wallop that you get from watching the video. So I highly recommend clicking here or here to see it for yourself.

Kathryn Jean Lopez from National Review Online writes:

“Cannon’s new music video ‘Can I Live?’ tells a tale that’s very different from a gangsta’s paradise of dirty dancing and booty calls that Cannon may be sandwiched in between on MTV or BET. In the song, the hip-hop pop star tells his life story — or at least the beginning of it and his mom’s close call with abortion.

“Cannon, 24, appears in the video as a ghost (or an angel, if you prefer) and sings, ‘Mommy, I don’t like this clinic. Hopefully you’ll make the right decision, and don’t go through with the knife decision.’

“A scared teen, his mother was on a gurney — that’s how close the call was — but got up, and, at least in the video version, ran.

“He points out to his mother something she got on some level, or she wouldn’t have gotten up: ‘That’s a life inside you, look at your tummy. What is becoming Ma, I am Oprah bound. You can tell he’s a star from the Ultrasound.’

“The video images tell a stirring, gripping story regardless of where you fall in the abortion debate.”

Go watch the video and buy the single. We should support something that is bound to save many lives that might otherwise have been snuffed out.

(R. Albert Mohler talked about the video on his radio show. You can download the mp3 of Mohler’s program here.)

(HT to Justin Taylor whose blog first brought this video to my attention.)


Interview with Bono in CT

For you rabid U2 fans, I thought you might be interested in an interview with Bono appearing on the Christianity Today website. The interview appears under the title “Bono: Grace over Karma.” Among other things, Bono is able to articulate a fairly clear profession of faith in Christ.

“I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity . . . I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.”

I don’t know much about Bono’s religious commitments or how his definition of terms may vary from that of the typical North American Evangelical. But at first blush, this isn’t too shabby.

The interviewer (who is a skeptic, to say the least) goes on to ask: “Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?” Bono responds:

“No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying: ‘I am God incarnate.’ . . . So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase . . . The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched . . .”

Here, Bono sounds as if he’s been reading C. S. Lewis’ “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” trilemma. Whatever the case, I have to give Bono credit for giving such a thoughtful answer.

Notwithstanding his apparent misunderstanding of the relationship of the Old Testament to the New, the entire interview was a pleasant surprise.


An Easter Hymn

by Denny Burk

O Jesus, Savior of my life,
My hope, my joy, my sacrifice,
I’ve searched and found no other one
Who loves me more than you have done. (John 15:13)

So I denounce my lingering sin
Whose power You have broke within (Rom 6:14)
My ever weak and faithless frame. (Rom 7:14)
Its vigor’s crushed in Jesus name.

For your death did at once proclaim,
The Father’s glory and my shame. (Rom 3:25-26)
And you did seize my cup of guilt (Luke 22:42)
And drank all that the chalice spilled. (1 Cor 5:21)

No condemnation now I dread
Because you went for me instead
To bear the Father’s hell-bent rage,
To pay the debt I would have paid.

Yet your work finished not with death,
Nor with your final murdered breath.
For death’s blows could not ever quell
The One whose life is in Himself. (John 5:26)

Your passion broke forth full with life
And foiled the adversary’s wiles
And broke the chains and killed the sting (1 Cor 15:55-57)
In which death had imprisoned me.

O Savior, who died in my stead, (Mark 10:45; Heb 9:28)
You firstborn from among the dead, (Col 1:18)
O Savior, you who saved my life, (Matt 1:21; John 12:47; 1 Cor 1:21)
Will take me whole to paradise. (Rev 22:1-7)

So on this resurrection day
I lift my voice with all the saints
And sing with all my ransomed might (1 Tim 2:6)
Of You, the Savior of my life.


Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes