"The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot — that God is at the center of the jaunt" (Bono).
My 13-year old son, Cullin, used all his Christmas money to by an iPod. Have you heard of IPods? It is an Apple product, with the typical, cool Apple story. CEO Steve Jobs wanted Apple to offer a portable music player, but he didn’t like the systems that were available, which he called "big and clunky" and "unbelievably awful." Jobs just asked his engineers to come up with a better one, and in less than a year the original iPod was available. This was in 2001, over 180 million units have now been sold, and constant improvements have been made — free enterprise at its best. Cullin has the iPod Nano; it is about the size of the old metal business card holders, eight gigabytes of memory, video capable. Imagine having a jukebox full of songs plus a couple movies in your pocket. The more he explains it too me, the more I wonder what we ever did without iPods.
Cullin is now scrapping together all the money he can earn to add songs to the iPod, which are bought online at the convenient iTunes Store, just 99 cents each. Among the first songs he added were "Viva La Vida," "Now or Never," and "The Great Escape." (Not to be confused with the 1963 World War II movie where Steve McQueen tries to jump a motorcycle into Switzerland.)
I asked Cullin if he had added any Christian music. He said Viva La Vida has a Christian ending, "St. Peter is going to call my name."
A little research came up with Billboard’s Top Five Christian songs of 2008: "You Are Everything," "Let it Fade," "God With Us," "You Reign," "Call My Name." We listened to them together, and all in all, it was not a banner year for Christian music.
It was time to "go to the mattresses." I Googled "Best Contemporary Christian Music All Time" and came up with a list of songs guaranteed to inspire, a wonderful treasure trove of music, including "Adam, Where Are You?" and "He’s Alive" by Don Francisco. Amy Grant singing "Thy Word" and "My Father’s Eyes." Steve Green, "People Need The Lord." Ray Bolts, "Watch the Lamb." Sandi Patty, "Via Dolorosa." Dallas Home, "Rise Again." Rich Mullins, "Awesome God." Michael English, "Mary Did You Know." There were so many great songs that I just had not heard for years, and Cullin, probably never.
So here is the deal Cullin and I are working out. Every tenth song, a tithe of the music, is going to be a Christian song. Maybe this is too pushy. Maybe it is not pushy enough. But good music will sell itself, and these few songs could wet the appetite for more.
Is your home an iPod home too? Do your kids listen to redemptive music? What they listen to helps to shape who they are. "The music in my heart I bore, long after it was heard no more" (William Wordsworth).
John Donaldson is the pastor at Newborn & Mansfield UMC, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org