“Christian” Media Editing Art

On Christianity Today at http://www.christianitytoday.com/music/reviews/2007/indiana.html there is a review of Jon McLaughlin’s Indiana CD. At the bottom of the page there is this warning:

Note: Be aware that there are two version of Indiana available. The original mainstream release includes the song “Amelia’s Missing” which contains the line, “How in the hell am I supposed to find the one that I love?” The Christian market release replaces that track with the ballad “Proud Father,” a six-minute ballad about unconditional love that could be interpreted as a variation on “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I have seen this before. The Christian media outlets edit out all “curse” words for the Christian market. Often the artist, who happens to be a believer, has included that curse word for a reason.

Without listening the the song or reading the lyrics, I could read McLaughlin’s line as one of two things: the angst felt by every single man (or woman for that matter) OR our quest for the one true living God. Either way, the line makes sense.

What are your thoughts on this? Should all Christian CDs (DVDs, etc) be “family-friendly”? Would it be hypicritical or real to create Christian CDs with a rating scheme?


31 Responses

  1. Risk our kids hearing a dirty word, or risk relating to people on the messy road that many are on as they seek to find and follow God?

  2. Yes, that does appear to be what we are attempting avoiding (our kids hearing a dirty word) and then what we are in fact losing in the deal (relating to other people).

  3. There is a bunch of music that I don’t let my kids have on their iPod, cause I don’t want them listening to certain themes or words. I would rate that song a PG13, but I am not sure why it would be adapted, except to fit a mold. the Christian market demands that it’s products be a certain way or else they won’t sell them. It is almost a “have to” just to be able to sell the CD.

    In the long run, the Christian market has the right to determine what they will sell, but the artist also has the right to keep their work intact the way they want it heard. Of course in this case, the label probably made the decision. not the artist. And, the artist would probably not be able to sell their product in many Christian stores if it wasn’t changed.

    Personally, I have more of an issue with labeling things secular or Christian…

    Also, this isn’t just a Christian thing, it is an industry thing. iTunes has “explicit” and “clean” versions of the majority of their albums, so that the user can choose. I think some people just want the option of what to hear. The artist are catering to that…or at least sales. Of course that beings up the other discussion of “labeling”.

  4. Yeah, I hear you on your first point. But when did Christian Art become synonymous with a G-Rating or Art for Children? Has it always been this way? I’ve only been paying close attention for about 6 years now.

    I’ve seen Christian Book stores sell The Passion of the Christ DVDs so the precedent for selling R-rated Christian Art in Christian outlets is there.

  5. I agree Ric. I think some sort of standard is set in the commercial world as to what certain distributors will carry or not. Unfortunately, I don’t really see it as a Christian values or morals thing, I see it as a what can we sell thing. There seems to be some sort of checks and balance for people. Even in the “secular” market. Why would it matter that there is cussing ion an album that is not “Christian”, but they still release “clean” versions. I think these standards are a societal thing as much as a religious thing.

    I like your “calling it real” on the Passion. That goes back to my point of money verses orals. There is no way that same Christian distributor would sell an Xbox game with violence in it, so the standard seems odd to me.

    Some of my thinking is actually that things shouldn’t be “labeled” Christian or Secular. People should be people and their lives, beliefs and faith will be played out in their art. I’d like to see less of “them and us” in the way we play our our lives.

    I personally believe that we can see God in art that is both Christian and secular (there’s the label again)

  6. The deeper the trench is dug between secular and sacred on any of these superficial grounds, the more the world will see the church as one big joke– a Sunday morning dose of prozac. The concept of Christian industry is bogus, almost as bogus as the lives it would have honest believers live.

    Holiness isn’t skin deep, if it is, then it’s not holiness. All this kind of thing does is create a feigned holiness that people can amend to their “I’m a Christian” ID cards.

  7. Well said William. I was at a conference last year..actually an art conference…and I remember one of the speakers talking about our “Christian bubble”. The reality is that the church has sanctioned itself off from the world in so many ways. And as the world continues to adapt, change and grow, we continue to shelter up inside the bubble that sees no change at all. It increases a strange rule and emphasizes religion and completely dissects us from relationship.

    It goes without saying the bubble needs to pop…

  8. Thanks IW and William for your insights. I have seen the feigned holiness from both sides: from a non-believer looking in and from a believer looking around.

  9. Read Jesus’ prayer for US when he is in the garden (John 17). He specifically states, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

    Somewhere along the line, we’ve bought into the notion of being separate from the world (and the world isn’t just unsaved people – there’s more in play here).

    I don’t believe Christians should look different, or behave differently from the rest of the culture – we should love differently.

    There is no such thing as christian vs. secular art – there’s only art. I believe Bono said, “There’s only two kinds of music; music that points you toward God or music that points you away. Art is

    As a musician, I believe you should not change the words of a song to tailor it to an audience. Either play it the way it’s written or don’t – but don’t alter the art – that’s a slap at the artist.

    I wish our English translations would keep in the literal words like shit, vomit, and menstrual rags rather than censor the sacred texts. It really brings new meaning to Scripture to when you get back to the REAL words.

  10. I completely agree b4dguy!!!

    I wrote a post on this a little while back. I never understand the idea that we aren’t to be in the world. Some Christians believe that to be “not of the world” means that you can’t have any contact or image of them in your life.

    If this was true, then we would miserably fail at the great commission.

  11. This is a needed topic and all of you seem to have the same perspective. Y’all are pretty cool people!

    To me, curse words come from the attitude or the intent that it is spoken. Are you specifically cursing someone to hell (not that one can do that), or are you expressing angst in general.

    Tyler Perry is a writer and produces plays. He keeps the “words” in his work because the audience he is mainly trying to appeal to need this type of realness. I know believers who will not watch his plays because they are offended by the “words”. What’s ironic is that the same people that are turned off to the language in his plays are gossips and busy bodies that do not have hardly anything nice to say about anyone. What is the condition of their heart? What is the intent of Tyler’s?

  12. Words are powerful, no matter if they are considered “curse” words or not. They are all valuable and powerful.

    The thing that drives me nuts is when they are used, not to communicate or to be purposeful, but when they are flippant. I am one to not be offended by cussing, unless it’s flippant. It goes from having an impact and making a statement to sounding stupid and uneducated.

    Ric, I don’t claim to be one with words like you are. Am I off base to see this difference. Am I out of line to see a difference?

  13. Hey badguy… I was wondering how long it would take you to come to this party. I hear you about keeping the song / art “as is” and not altering it. In this case, McLaughlin and his label must have decided to keep the song “as is” but alter the album. And I don’t have a problem with that except rather than calling the 2 CDs G and PG-13, they’re calling them Christian and mainstream.

    Selena, Thanks for chiming in. And I agree with your assessment too… what is the condition of the heart? In most of our heart’s cases … completely imperfect. It gets back to William’s reference to feigned holiness.

    inWorship, I agree with you on seeing a difference between a clear purpose for a word and a flippant, gratuitous use of a word. I have used obscenities or vulgarities (I can’t keep up with the rating industry’s definitions) in various poems. However, each use is intended for a purpose. I think weak art relies on gratuitous use of vulgarity to express anger, angst or humor. Good art would only inject these when they add to a piece on anger, angst, or humor.

  14. Thanks for the confirmation Ric. I just wanted to get that opinion from someone that probably is a little more versed in words than I am 🙂

  15. I do like to play with words, like some guys like to play with trucks, legos, or possibly even notes 😉

  16. Ps. b4dguy has a blog on wordpress over at b4dguy.wordpress.com
    (psst: you should update your profile and put your blog address in the website box.)

  17. (psst: I’m technically challenged!) I’m going to have to start blogging more…

    Anyway, here’s a lyric that I think you’d enjoy. you may already know this tune from Derek Webb:

    they’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
    they’ll know us by the way we point and stare
    at anyone whose sin looks worse than ours
    who cannot hide the scars of this curse that we all bare

    they’ll know us by our picket lines and signs
    they’ll know us by the pride we hide behind
    like anyone on earth is living right
    and isn’t that why Jesus died
    not to make us think we’re right

    when love, love, love
    is what we should be known for
    love, love, love
    it’s the how and it’s the why
    we live and breathe and we die

    they’ll know us by reasons we divide
    and how we can’t seem to unify
    because we’ve gotta sing songs a certain style
    or we’ll walk right down that aisle
    and just leave ‘em all behind

    they’ll know us by the billboards that we make
    just turning God’s words to cheap clichés
    says “what part of murder don’t you understand?”
    but we hate our fellow man
    and point a finger at his grave

    they’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
    they’ll know us by the way we point and stare
    telling ‘em their sins are worse than ours
    thinking we can hide our scars
    beneath these t-shirts that we wear

    now I’ll go figure out how to update my profile…

  18. Thanks for the lyrics. I was reading them like a poem with some cadence in my head and when I got to the last line of your post I must have got to ‘update’ … thinking now that doesn’t FIT!

    My Profile, upper right hand corner of the screen.

  19. Definitely read them that way Ric. Derek Webb is a poet. I love his stuff. Very challenging and insightful. Good music too. He ans his wife are releasing a new co-writing project this Spring. Looking forward to that.

  20. Yeah, Badguy gave me The House Show last year and it pretty much rocked me.

  21. Badguy- love derek webb..love music in general.

    there is one thing I would add to this discussion (that is very good). I don’t think as Christians we should try so hard to be different, the heart condition will show a difference…They will know us by our love not our screening process.

    I know a very talented young muscian, totally shelter in a Christian home and always kept from the world, eventually she grew up, but the best college in this area for musicians is secular. She crashed and burned and has not been quite the same ever since. She is so out of touch with the world, that the world freaked her out! literally…I would rather let artists be artists, and use the bad for a chance to converse with my kids and show them what God has to say about it, then to pretend that it isn’t there.
    just my two cents!

  22. Darla, Welcome! And thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like the “know us by our love not our screening process.” Yes.

  23. I feel dumb for not knowing Derek Webb’s music. Those lyrics are so true!

  24. Selena, That song is from his album I See Things Upside Down. You should check out his album, The House Show. Way cool.

  25. Yes. I’d start with The House Show. It’s a live album, and has alot of storytelling between songs. Also – try to catch him live:


    ric – Derek will be playing a show in Timonium in June (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

  26. I saw his website. He isn’t going to be in Houston anytime soon, but I will be adding his music to my list. Rich Mullins is one of my favorite poets. *sigh*

  27. Maybe you can see him on YouTube? Anyways, he’ll be worth the wait.

  28. Derek Webb originally played with Caedmons Call, and they were both here last night at the Giant Center, Hershey, PA

    I love Derek Webbs raw truth.

    Nice blog Ric, I am going to add you to my blog…if that is okay?
    got to go visit Bad..just love his name! 😯

  29. Hi Darla,

    Cool. Did you go to the show last night? Derek Webb has a way of speaking the truth that is simply refreshing. And by all means add away! Thanks for coming by!

  30. I didn’t get to go, my son is sick, but I do have a dvd that is totally rockin’, and saw them last year..but I never get enough of Webb/caedmons call.

    w00t- don’t you think people are just hungry for some raw truth? I know I totally appreciate a straight shooter much more than one that feeds me crap and keeps me in the dark..I am just not a mushroom! 😆 that is what I love about Derek Webb, and I love about my blogging friends.

  31. Bummer about missing it. Hope your son is feeling better. And yes, I do think people are hungry for truth. I see more and more of this hunger these days. That encourages me.

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