Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thanks, Joe Strummer - A Question For Other Christians Who Play Music

Those who know me well know I love punk music. And even if I don't buy into the fashion or posturing or misguided egalitarianism, the music still greatly inspires me.

I made this video a few years ago to tell people about my introduction to punk and why I think it's so important. Sorry for the swears. and the video lag.

One major archetype in punk music is the anti-rockstar. Sometimes it's just a part of the show while the dudes have their napkin rings polished in the passenger bus. Other times, you'll find guys like Joe Strummer who said, and I think in earnest, "Fame is an illusion and everything about it is a joke."

I think the idea of fame should greatly concern Christians who make music. Musicians, good ones at least, will always struggle with fame and celebrity. Some want to achieve rock-stardom more than anything. Some don't know what to do with it once they get it. They will all have to make a decision of what to do with applause and cheers.

I didn't know why it made me so uncomfortable until I had a conversation with my friend Mirf a few years ago. He ran an all ages venue in Michigan and was deeply involved in the world of music. While talking one night after a show, he said, "You know, I have to wrestle all the time with the fact that I'm in the business of idolatry. I bring bands in to this venue so people will come and adore them. The kids even buy shirts, albums, and posters with the band's image because of their admiration of the artists." I didn't say it then, but this rattled me deep. If he felt conflicted about bringing in those artists, how was I supposed to feel about being one of those artists?

Now, I don't get the impression God feels anger at my writing and performing music. In fact, there are plenty of days where I think He likes it. I'll probably like it when my kid learns how to draw pictures or play an instrument. I wouldn't like it, though, if my kid were to let fame get to his head.

I'm not sure there's a simple answer to this, but I know some of you are Christians who also play music. So what do you think about this? Is the pursuit of fame the pursuit of self-worship?


Cory said...

Mother Theresa struggled with this, doctors struggle with this, preachers struggle with this, professors...and even Paul wrote scripture specifically about this in 1 Cor about his rhetoric. Every ministry can potentially lead to becoming an idolatrous figure. All professions have some sort of circle that it heavily influences around it. Heck, we were even idols as servers at Morningside! So, in the words of Jesus I commend you: "Rock like a god!" That was Jesus, right?

Isaiah Kallman said...

Ha! That sounds more like Dio.