Skinshifter_Text_Banner_2-4x6Could someone please tell me what insanity I just strayed into? A few moons ago, I encountered a group of social reform advocates who are absolutely decrying the evils of Christian rock music. Specifically, they were bashing the large Christian rock tour called Winter Jam and claiming that its mission was the work of Satan because of the “loudness” of some the music involved in the tour. I’m sorry, but are you kidding me?

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a hard rock fan. No, I have never listened to Metallica and I could care less about AC/DC. I have never bothered with Korn, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, or any of the mainstream rock bands that have been popular in my lifetime. Instead I grew up on legends like Audio Adrenaline, DCTalk, Newsboys, and Switchfoot. Now I listen to bands like Fireflight, RED, Skillet, Superchick, and Veridia. All of these bands are varying degrees of “loud” and all of them are, incidentally, Christian.

My reasoning for listening to these bands is that their overall message is very good. For me, it’s refreshing to listen to the soaring riffs of an electric guitar without enduring the acrid lyrics about the superficial pleasures of sex and drugs that so often accompany it. It’s also nice to listen to Christian bands who don’t feel the need to preach to all the world about the sublime goodness of God every single moment. Instead these are bands talk about the facts that life is not always pretty, human beings aren’t always perfect, and our mistakes can be rectified through Jesus’s love and grace. These are songs about confronting the darkest parts of ourselves, conquering addiction, overcoming grief, and letting go of toxins like hatred and rage. These songs speak of spiritual warfare: the constant duel between darkness and light. Their lyrics are a constant reminder for me to be vigilant against the war within myself as a flawed human being. I don’t always choose right over wrong and when I don’t, evil wins and others get hurt.

For someone like me who has used to these bands and their messages both heavy and light to help myself overcome some of the darkest episodes of my life, the rants of this particular reform group struck a nerve.

I will grant that I am somewhat on the extreme of Christian music tastes, but so what? Whether we agree on music or not, my frustration with this group was not the fact that they didn’t like the same music that I like. My problem is that this group of well-meaning people passed judgement in their self-righteous pride on something that they have no right to condemn.

Let me be crystal clear. Judgement is not a bad thing. In point of fact, it’s a very useful tool that helps us humans categorize and organize our world. However, if I judge others from an attitude of pride, then I am wrong. If I judge others with an attitude of love and humility, then I honor God. I as a Christian am called to love God and others. I am called to live a righteous life that helps others. I am called to spurn sin in any form it takes so that I can live life truly free. However, I have to be very careful what I call bad and what I call good. Jesus gave a great test for this in Matthew 12:33-37 with his “rotten fruit” test. If a person’s actions produce rotten results then those acts are bad and I need to take steps to stop the damage. If a person’s actions produce good results, then I need to support and encourage those actions. It’s that simple.

This is why I have no problem with hard rock Christian bands. I don’t bolster them because of the “Christian” label; I support them because of the good fruits I’ve seen them produce in my life and in others’ lives.

The same can be said about writing. I once wrote an article about the Writing Comparison Trap and the fact that it leads to self-doubt as a writer and a creative. I think the Judgment Trap that I’m discussing today does something similar. Both situations give me an unhealthy dose of pride to overcome. So my best guess is that I should avoid both of them by focusing my calling and my mission as a creative instead of comparing myself as better or worse than others.

No one will perceive the world quite in the same way I will. Likewise no one will interpret life experience in the same way I will. I think the themes of love, loss, grief, hope which exists in my writing are universal enough to capture other people’s interest and to build common ground between us. However, I also know that my chosen fiction genre, fantasy fiction, will not appeal to everyone just as my favorite form of rock music will not send people’s hearts happily aflutter. And that’s okay. I am not trying to enrich the entire world. I am merely attempting to build common ground between people who are somewhat similar to me. My hope and my prayer has always been that my writing would encourage and inspire others. If my writing does that, then I’ve served my mission well. If my writing harms; however, then I need to reevaluate what I’m doing.

At some point, I know that I will probably receive quite a bit of flak from the fact that I don’t shy away from darker themes and that I use magic as a simple way to explain God’s and Satan’s power to people who have yet to recognize them. That’s okay, too. Those that decry me for the genres in which I write are missing the point. I’m honored to stir up controversy. After all, my own savior Jesus knew that his message of sacrificial love and grace would be controversial especially to those who were already perfectly content to judge others as worse than themselves. Jesus didn’t come to heal the self-righteousness. He came to heal the broken-hearted, down-trodden, and those who know that we’re just not perfect. He came to heal me. I find it rather amazing that he uses my major passions of music and writing to deepen that healing.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

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The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

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