Newsboys. In January 2015, he came out as an atheist. In this broadcast, George speaks about his experience as a Christian artist/minister and his apostasy, and we also hear from others who once played to packed houses on the CCM stage.

How much of CCM is ministry? And how much is money? We ask those questions (and more) tonight.

TTA Podcast 213: Christian Music – Behind the Curtain by UCeYP27qLtfUMY1b1Cyy3WdQ

45 COMMENTS

  1. For me when ever I hear 'you can only imagine' I'm reminded of my time in a local church denomination unkown. And learning the sign language and dance for a Christmas play I took part in.

  2. I hate pop(hip-hop, rap, etc) music most of the time, I cannot stand all the bullshit lyrics and hateful behavior. I get tired of the "sex" (not consensual: often a male harassing or assaulting women), dumbass drug use, and living like an absolute shithead to everyone. The egotism spewing from it is pathetic. I need to listen to something that is not so toxic and will listen to christian music because I need positivity away from the smog of popular music.

  3. To this day "worship" music, in my opinion, and probably because it's BUILT to be this way, is the most powerful music there is. Most moving and even physically alters you, especially if you believe in the message.
    This makes this kind of music one of the most confounding and manipulating forces the church has at it's disposal as the worshipers can feel as though they are LITERALLY feeling God "move" through the music.

  4. I remember, back in the late '90's falling victim to the whole "If you love this secular band, you'll love this Christian band" marketing scheme. I think the comparison I fell for was between Metallica and some band like White Heart, White Cross or something like that. I played it and hated it. Musically, it was under-cooked and just uninteresting, even for one listen. I took it back to the Christian bookstore and asked for my money back. They refused. Pissed-off, I left it on the counter and said, "Give it to someone else or throw it away then." To be fair, I did find some truly great music in that store as well. I still love the albums Beyond Nature and 220 by Phil Keaggy.

  5. Chic-Fil-A plays CCM, but there are no lyrics so you'd have to be a "Christian" to recognize the melody. I almost choked on my sandwich when I recognized the tune. The food was good and it's their right to play whatever, but sneaky. . .😄

  6. One problem we had was getting ripped off money wise by churches. We would agree on a price if it was out of town then after we played they wouldn't have the money or only a portion of it and if you complained then you were only doing it for the money n not for the Lord. Then they would spread that around n you would have a hard time playing anywhere. I got ripped off way more by churches than I ever did by bars and clubs.

  7. I remember when my mother converted. I was about 13, and had been happily non-religious for years. I was just getting into metal, not out of rebellion, but because I genuinely enjoy the music. When my mother converted, all of my favorite clothes, the way I did my makeup, the friends I had and especially that music I was listening to was right out. If it wasn't godly, it was gone. Over night I had to run my outfits by her and I wasn't allowed to have headphones any more lest I listen to demonic music. I'd always been one of those people who didn't really listen much to lyrics (when you're just getting into metal, lyrics can be difficult to decipher anyway) in any of my main genres. I liked the music, and as the majority of what I listened to wasn't in languages I understood that shouldn't have been a problem. But no, that wasn't enough. My mother took my "I prefer music to lyrics" stance and said that I shouldn't be protesting as hard as I was about listening solely to Christian music because they have answers to all of it! The problem was the Christian answers just simply weren't as good! I liked Amon Amarth, Borknagar, Gorgoroth, Nile, Watain, the crazy, deep dark stuff because the music speaks to me. Christian metal is hideous, and it's all the same song. They're just about interchangeable. Instead of having themes of Vikings, and mythology, Egyptian lore, stuff I was interested in, so on occasion when I did lyrically check in it was often about something interesting and cool. I learned a lot about history and mythology through my music around that time because sometimes I would tune in and wonder what a word meant or hear a phrase and look into it. I found that I really love Norse mythology because I happened across it while wondering what a song I liked meant and grabbed my lyric book. All the sudden it was "Omg I'm so Christian! Look at me Christianing over here! God, God, God, Jesus, Jesus, crucifixion is metal, right? Blood, Christ, sin! What the F-reedom are you doing, stop sinning and be good!" It wasn't my teenage fault that Christians have crappy metal. You're not going to hear about valkyries choosing soldiers for Valhalla while observing Viking battles, Hel's punishment, Loki's suffering causing earthquakes because he's being continually poisoned for all eternity and shudders so deeply that the earth trembles, Huginn and Muninn, or waking slumbering beings, chaos, and imagery of beings so vast and destructive that they devour stars, etc in Christian music. Show me a Christian music song about something interesting and imaginative. I bet you can't, because they all write the same song over and over and over. It's all sterilized and it strips the intensity out of it. That intensity is what I was there for. Without it, it's just fast and loud music that manages to be boring. Just because someone PREFERS music to lyrics doesn't mean the lyrics are strictly irrelevant.

  8. I would definitely call myself a heavy metaller, although having studied music I've got wide ranging tastes from electronic, classical, film scores, jazz, country, blues, metal, instrumental, loads of stuff. Yet Christian music, or the stuff I've heard anyway, even if you remove the lyrical ideas, just sounds horrible, like sonically, artistically fucking terrible. It is the ONE genre I can't listen to, at all. The lyrics are at odds with me certainly, but they could be singing about literally anything and the sound coming out of my speakers would still be truly terrible.

  9. I wish with the last call you both had a laugh about "God's Not Dead" lol.
    I didn't know they were from my Australian Queensland state.. that's a weird thought..
    Hillsong is also Australian which makes me sad inside. Greedy sell-out hypocite fuckers.

  10. My wife was listening to Christian music a few days ago in the car, and I was listening to the lyrics and realized that it tries to create this sense of desperation for god.  It's like this perpetual cycle of enforcing the notion of "life is meaningless without god"

  11. I have a Born Again friend who is always has a Christian music station on in her car. The music that I have heard all very derivative and imitative of secular music. (Where it is not idiotic – much of it seems nothing more than repetitions of "I love Jesus. Jesus loves me." set to various chords and tempos.).

    This contrasts with the Christian music of Bach, Mendelssohn, Mozart and the others of the romantic, classical, baroque and rococo eras where the composers were innovating rather than imitating.

  12. Another excellent episode. Even when I was a believer I never was able to like and enjoy CCM. That was in my early teen years and I could not articulate it then, but I think it was due to the piss-poor production values, marginal songwriting of this genre, and possibly lack of musical talent.  I should be and am grateful for that, it probably would have taken me longer to recognize I have no theistic beliefs if I had been captivated by Christian music.

  13. Hank Hill from King of the Hill once said to a "hardcore" christian rock band: "Can't you see you're not making christianity any better, you're just making rock 'n roll worse".

  14. I was raised pentecostal, and fully immersed in the CCM scene.  (My first real job, was working in a christian bookstore, because I was such a polite young man who spent so much money there on music.)  I can barely listen to any of it now because it just reminds me of how deeply and fundamentally "lied to" I was.  There are choice few albums that I've held on to because I was so fond of them musically, but when disposing of it (CD's, cassettes) I so far as to destroy it instead of giving it away so that I have no hand in anyone possibly falling prey to the warm and fuzzy deception.  

    Even to this day, I have a soft spot for Amy Grant.  I think she's a wonderful human being, but I used to think of her as possessing sage-like wisdom, and just an incredibly peaceful philosophy of life.  I've since come to lose most of my respect for her, quite simply for never asking the deeper questions and finding her own enlightenment.  She has become a master at dancing around issues that might alienate her christian fan base (ie: support for LGBT folks) and that really bothers me (as a gay man).  I don't know how her record sales have been doing over the past few years, but I suspect "not well" when last year's "dance remix" project was released to a bit of initial hype and then suddenly never spoken-of again.  The latest album is yet another "Hymns" album, and it will be the first time in my adult life that I say "thanks, but no thanks" to a new collection of songs.  It just says to me, that she has nothing to say.  If she wants to fade into obscurity as the queen of hymns and christmas songs, "good for her".  But I really am done supporting anyone who just wants to spread dogma.

  15. As someone who wanted to (and still idly dreams of) go into education, I would indict all of homeschooling.

    Teaching kids isn't easy. You have to know a LOT more than merely the topic you're going to be teaching to your kids, from basic psychology to teaching methods, and that's ignoring subject-specific things like pronunciation and language awareness or the history of teaching methods for languages (I was in Teaching of English as a Second Language, which is itself different from teaching first languages, which are both different from math and everything else). It isn't enough to rattle off a bunch of stuff from a textbook. Parents have exactly fuck all in the way of qualifications to teach children. Teachers do. It's not like sticking your dick in a vagina or squeezing a baby out of your cooze magically gives you educational talents and a basis for transmitting information, and yes I was intentionally crude for effect, because that's how hard it is to be a parent: any idiot can do it, and idiots often do.

    There are studies about homeschooling that have been done, and the ones with slightly positive results are always paraded around by anti-education dipshits as proof that it's more effective, but the participants in those studies are self-selecting groups who go into the studies knowing what the tests will be about and who force their kids to memorize so they can perform well, if I remember correctly from when I looked into this some years ago.

    Fact is, you might find a parent or two that's naturally gifted at teaching, but for every one of those there's a million ignorant asshats who want to teach their kids that cars run on Jesus-magic and that computers and books are of the devil. I wouldn't be so ready and willing to defend homeschooling, even if you can locate and line up five people with good intentions about it.

  16. Back in the 80's I was involved in the Christian music industry. I manged a heavy metal Christian band called Stryper. A lot of Christians are becoming ex-Christians.  You can only take so much bs.

  17. as a metal musician this is just something I know about, but I've done some papers on this in high school and college. The rumors that these people came up with were just absurd. Ozzy was sued because a kid killed himself, and the parents blamed the song suicide solution, not knowing the song was about the dangers of drinking. Two teenagers dropped acid and went around playing with a shot gun and ended up killing each other. The parents, who weren't scrutinized for allowing their kids get a hold of a shotgun, didn't blame the LSD, they blamed Judas Priest, and said that playing their record backwards made the album say, "do it." There is the infamous playing stairway to heaven backwards story churches spread around. Churches said KISS stood for, knights in satan's service. Probably the worst of it was directed at Marilyn Manson. There are pages of letters and statements from church groups that claimed to have attended his shows where they saw him put on satanic rituals and masses that involved killing animals and rape. They also claimed they would have sex with their naked female guitarist, daisy. None of this happened, and you can tell that they never went to a show because daisy is a guy, and daisy is his stage name.

  18. He said he "believed in God" he never spoke about his relationship with Jesus that is interesting.  He never spoke about "knowing" God.  — Rotating married and divorced people is the thing he focused now that he is doing secular music.  Interesting.  1:20

  19. This is just too perfect of a subject to drop this gem of a story. When I was a teenager and was getting good enough to play in public, I played a steaming Jimi Hendrix-ish face melting version of Amazing Grace for the offertory. This was in a Pentecostal fundamental church so strict that they looked down on women wearing makeup. The absolute silence & look of horror of the faces of the congregation was priceless!! I wish we'd had phones with video capabilities in the mid 90's. Anyway, it gets better. I was playing a Gibson SG (like Angus Young) and an elder of the church took me to the rear of the church & explained the major issue in her opinion that was wrong with my rendition. Aside from the disrespect I illustrated by rocking that fucking song harder than it ever has been, her major problem was "my guitar was red & black and had horns like the devil". I'm not making up nor embellishing anything except, perhaps, my opinion for the magnitude in which I rocked.Haaaahaahahaaaa!!! Still 1 of my favorite memories to date!!

  20. The thing that I absolutely love about this show is that it's a f*****g blast to listen to!! It completely dispels the myth propagated by the "other side" that atheism is cold, angry and devoid of any joy!! Keep up the good work!!!!

  21. they play christian music at the cafe i work it (luckily just twice a week now… it was about every day). it's still super obnoxious.. even when i was a christian it was annoying and now i catch myself listening to lyrics and picking them apart and really just getting angry about it and wanting to argue.. but i'm at work and i have to smile and be nice. (especially in that cafe, its very christian, people have bible studies in there a lot, there are jesus posters on the wall… its not as bad as it used to be but still nauseating).

  22. Huge fan of TTA but trying really hard to come up w/ a single reason why I'd want to hear even one note or one fact about xtain music… Adding guitars and drums to a hymn makes it 'not a hymn'?

  23. This reminds me of a folksy saying my dad taught me: if you like the sausage, don't ask how it's made. And side note on the "Carmen had cancer but is now healed along with his career" thing. Smells of a whole bunch of bull shit. Rank, very rank.

  24. The other night I randomly listened to my old favorites for about an hour or two. I kept finding things on YouTube, so then I'd search for more…then I got mine out. It was enjoyable in a nostalgic way, but I was shaking my head. Especially when I listened to one of my faves…Kenneth Copeland's He Is Jehovah…shook my head hard…because KENNETH COPELAND. LOL! It's a weird feeling hearing them now, feeling like I do. Even the most emotional of them…now it doesn't mean anything, but you can't help but remember from before when you hear the music. Very odd.

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