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Friday, April 25, 2008

An Idol Mind is the Devil's Playground

I have stayed out of the conversations surrounding American Idol whenever they get remotely religious. Until today. I can stay silent no longer.

I have read countless blogs regarding Idol in relation to the “religious” performances of “God Bless the USA” by Kristy Lee Cook, all the American Idols singing, “Shout to the Lord,” and finally, the controversy surrounding Carly Smithson singing, “Jesus Christ Superstar.

Today, the Times reported, “Carly Smithson might be the first “American Idol” contestant to be voted off the show for blasphemy . . . Online chat boards devoted to “American Idol” have been abuzz since Ms. Smithson performed the title song from “Jesus Christ Superstar” — the 1970 rock opera, which many Christians consider offensive — on Tuesday’s episode.”

The controversy is directly related to the lyrics of the song which portray Jesus as a confused savior who doesn’t really know he is the savior or is at least cautious about accepting the savior role. Then there are the Jesus/Mary Magdalene affair suggestions. This reminds me of how conservative Christians got pissed at The Matrix when Neo was such a great picture of Christ except for his confusion about his role as “the one.”

I’m just gonna lay this out here : : :

Do we really care about this? Should we?

Here are my thoughts on God and pop culture in light of the recent discussion—random, stream-of-consciousness, and unfiltered. Food for thought : : :

1. Christians, let’s stop trying to redeem TV shows. Just because someone performs a song about Jesus, it does not make the show any better. Just because they don’t does not make the show any worse. Just because it mentions Jesus doesn’t make it a good song. Nobody is sitting at home getting saved because Idol uses a “Christian” song and no one is denying God because someone sang a Queen song.

2. Carly Smithson is a singer. As far as I know, not a Christian or a spokesperson for Christianity. Leave her alone. Judge her on her voice—not her song choice. Plus, the song has been around forever. It already ran the gauntlet of conservative fundie Christian concern. Do we really want to go there again? Do we really want to be known as the group that makes a stand "against" every thing that is "wrong" in culture?

3. Should we really expect TV shows to reflect any type of Christian value or ethic? Really? Is that what we're called to?

4. Society does not change because of the ethics we impose on it. Hearts and lives change form the inside-out. No law, rule, ethic, style, or song choice will change the heart of a nation or an individual. Just ask Moses. Or read the Bible.

5. Do we really care that Jesus was referred to as “shepherd” on Idol instead of the original wording—“my Jesus, my Savior?” My friend Nathan shared a good thought on this one on his blog comments here where he says,

Regardless of whether or not the name of Jesus was taken out of the song, it is pretty obvious by the remaining lyrics what, or should I say 'who', the song is about. I kind of disagree with saying that the song just isn't the same without the name of Jesus in it. It isn't the same to us, as believers. But the message is still there to the non-believers. He was still exalted.

6. If the Simpsons write a character that is a cooler Christian than Ned Flanders, will that make it an acceptable show to some? If Eric Cartman becomes a Christian and South Park writes him wonderfully, will South Park become a better/more ethical show? Would we really think that would make a difference in the world?

7. Is this next election gonna go down like American Idol? I hope not. If Hillary sings Shout to the Lord on TV will it make her the favorite? If Obama sings a Tomlin tune will he get the vote? McCain—wanna try some Leeland? Maybe Huckabee can make a comeback with an oldie but goodie—I suggest Don Francisco for Huckabee.

8. Can we expect Hollywood to live up to a Christian ethic? Should we expect any more?

9. Should a Christian win the competition? What will that do?

10. What message do we (Christians) send the rest of the world when we get our panties in a wad over this stuff? My guess? They hate us more. We build the stereotype.

11. Count the people you know who have become believers through bumper stickers, TV shows, church marquees, and other Jesus “stuff” in pop culture. Now count the people you know who think those things are dumb and annoying.

12. Does God somehow “win” if American Idol does a God-song? What game are we playing?

13. I like “Shout to the Lord.” It is, in my opinion, a song that changed worship music FOREVER. I love it. I’m glad they did it based on the merits of the songwriting. Guess what? Idol knows that. They know you like the song. They know their audience. Don’t think for a minute they did the song because they were “convicted” to do it. They are smart. They have done their homework. I guarantee you there was conversation in the boardroom about changing the lyric. They know who is watching. Ratings, folks.

14. What I want to know is . . . did Oprah like the song? That’s what matters.


"The culture war is over. We lost." --Jud Wilhite


Unknown said...

uhmm... all I can say is that I could not agree more.

although, do you not think Kirk Cameron might make a good president some day... this whole discussion is a warning about why some of us Christians really are "left behind";)

John said...

rich : : : duh duh tssss. That was my cyber drum roll and cymbal. your sarcasm is insightful and scary.

Tim M said...

"just ask Moses"

ZING! Nice one dude.

the vagabond said...

nice job: the retort to "Christian" drama over Idol could not have been better stated!

Bryan Riley said...

Spot on and great title.

bobby said...

Maybe I'm livin under a rock. Didn't know there was a lot of yappin about the JC Superstar thang. Not surprised though.

Don't watch Idol, but I saw it on YouTube. Funny thing is, JC Superstar is my favorite musical. I guess y'all better pray for my salvation.