I'm not a big fan of 'Christian' music. When I say 'Christian' music, what I mean is, for the most part, 'praise' music to be sung in church, and 'Christian Industrial Complex' music that is played on 'Christian' radio stations.
(I'm also not a fan of using quotation marks to make a point. However, I'm not convinced that the music I'm thinking of is necessarily always Christian (see especially the thoughts on theology below), but many people think it is and refer to this music as Christian ... so, you get quotation marks. Sorry about that.)
Some of it is melodically decent, some of it is not theologically vapid (if, for instance, you can substitute the name of your boyfriend or girlfriend, instead of Jesus, and it sounds like a pop-music love song, it's theologically vapid). Very little, in my humble estimation, is both musically and theologically palatable, and most of 'Christian' music isn't even worth listening to. Now I understand that many people appreciate, like, and even meet G-d through the medium of this music; however, that doesn't make it any more interesting to me, or make me want to listen.
Earlier today, I was reading an article about sacred art, particularly about sacred music. Now I like much of what we call sacred music. But it made me wonder whether megachurch praise music is sacred. We don't often refer to it in this way. But if sacred music is that which is written for use during the sacred time and space of worship, then I suppose it must be.
There, though, is where it breaks down for me. It seems to me that (what people call) the contemporary church has intentionally moved away from any sense of the sacred. Pastors (ministers, preachers, or whatever title gets used) no longer dress in vestments, or even in nice suits. The trend has been toward dressing polo shirts and khaki pants to stand in front of latte-sipping families sitting in movie-theater chairs. Please don't hear me saying there's anything wrong with any of these things ~ I'm absolutely in favor of intentionally changing what's normal in order to make a point or change people's perspective. And I, for one, am happy to drink my coffee in church. But I'm wondering, in the creating of space that is comfortable and welcoming and as similar to regular life as possible, whether we've lost a sense of time and space being set aside as sacred, and whether we've lost the sense that the music that belongs in that space is sacred as well.
But then I wonder about the music that I do like, and whether that is typically considered sacred music. Bluegrass gospel, black gospel, southern gospel ~ are these sacred? I'd tend to think so, but they're not ordinarily referred to as such. Is it only classical and choral music that fit that category?
Which brings up a bigger question for me ~ with the shrinking of the world through fast travel and readily-available technology (laptops, cell phones, skype, etc.), where and what and when do we set aside as separate and set apart and sacred?