I remember driving in my friend Mike’s old Subaru Forester as an intern at the church I grew up in, and he suggested I learn a few new songs that our youth group would enjoy. The songs came from this new praise band, creatively named The David Crowder Band. He popped in the CD, and in an instant I was hooked. I had never heard church music like that before. I still haven’t.
I followed the band from there on out. I think (I’ve lost count) that I’ve seen them in concert more than any other musical act. They were at countless youth conferences, festivals, and then one-off tours that I made my way too. The rock and roll was solid. The theology of the lyrics was exquisite. The artistry in how they made pseudo-concept albums out of everything they did was amazing. Even when the band split, Crowder’s solo efforts were less amazing, but still impressive.
And that beard? Come on now!
Which is why I shared with many on Twitter in being disappointed to discover that Crowder will be traveling this summer with Evangelist Franklin Graham on a “Decision America” Tour. Franklin Graham of course is the son of famed preacher Billy Graham, but in my opinion has waxed political far more than his father ever did. To be sure, Billy spent his time with presidents and politicians, but it appears to me that Franklin Graham is more a political power player, and in what I have seen of late in his media appearances gives more weight to that than he does the power of Jesus Christ. These of course are my opinions. It’s worth mentioning here that I’ve never met Franklin Graham. I don’t know what his thought patterns are beyond what I get to see on TV. But what I get to see on TV is something that doesn’t ring like the good fruit of the gospel.
Look, there is immense danger in mixing politics and religion. One of the best illustrations I’ve heard about this is that it’s like mixing ice cream (the church) and cow manure (politics). The fertilizer will be just fine, but it’s going to do something awful to the ice cream. Even making a post this political on an otherwise spiritual blog is kind of risky, because people will jump to defcon 5 and miss what I’m getting at. Don’t do that!
What I do think we can learn from this is that we actually have several steps between defcon 5 and normal civilized conversation. On Twitter there have been discussions about boycotting Crowder, avoiding his music, not singing it in church, and so on. Do we have to jump right there? I disagree with Franklin Graham’s methods and his opinions on so many things. I am disappointed with Crowder spending his time promoting that version of the Gospel. But that doesn’t change the sweetness of the songs that I’ve fallen in love with in our church. That doesn’t cheapen the theology of that music. It doesn’t change the way that Crowder’s music always has (and likely will) deepen and aided in my relationship with Christ.
I guess this post ends in a few questions. What do we do as followers of Christ when we disagree or are disappointed? Do we have to throw the whole thing overboard every time? Is this the natural outcome when we mix politics and religion, a more hostile approach to both? Can we have better conversations around this?
I sure hope so!