Our world was drastically and undeniably shaken sometime last week, when the music video for the Korean pop song “Gangnam Style” dethroned Justin Bieber’s “Baby” as the most watched Youtube video of all time, with over 803 million views. Despite the song’s utter and complete insignificance, this statistic is significant, I assure you. So much so, in fact, that I doubt I will ever forget the moment I heard the news. I was driving to work in the usual absent-minded fashion, when the gravity of the whole situation physically moved me in my seat. I sat up and placed my hands at 10 and 2, ready for anything--because anything and everything seems possible in a world where a video of grown men dancing like deranged circus animals is watched 803 million times. I realized something that day, and though it has been evident in our culture for much of my life, it finally struck me with sincere simplicity. In light of the success of a song that is unintelligible by the vast majority of my peers, and the rampant disregard for substance within the entertainment industry, I have come to the conclusion that my generation misunderstands art.
he current landscape of our culture should concern Christians. This is what we’re up against. We live in a time of relativism and ambiguous disinterest towards truth and meaning; a time when the most influential and listened to people aren’t really telling us anything. And whether we admit it or not, the Church has been affected by the postmodern world’s misuse of art. Within the body of Christ, I have seen a tremendous pool of raw talent and skill that is largely untapped, due to, I believe, lack of modeling. What I mean is this: Christians often don’t know how to use their gifts, because most of the world leverages things like talent and intelligence for evil.
llow me to focus the big picture on a smaller subject: Worship music. I have often struggled with the implications of what it means to be involved in Church music, and find myself continually searching for ways to glorify God with the gifts He has given me. The reason I am compelled to even ask these questions goes back to the culture I find myself in. The prevailing rhetoric regarding music and art tells artists that self-interest, self-promotion, and self-worship is the logical mode of operation. The truth and beauty of the Gospel is that it radically opposes such thought. We were dead in our sins and trespasses when Christ had mercy and compassion on us, choosing to sacrifice Himself as an offering for our sin. As Paul Illustrates in Ephesians 2, we have nothing to boast about. We ultimately have nothing to offer or “promote”.
he reason my generation misunderstands art goes back to a fundamental misunderstanding of our standing with God. We think it’s okay to idolize people on American idol because we think people are great. Our culture will continue to put pretty individuals on stages and altars as a testament to “human achievement”, subtly and slyly, with the shine and sparkle of fine entertainment, telling us that we can do wonders on our own. This is what we’re up against. The story of Jesus Christ is desperately needed in a world devoid of stories. And though the arts are in danger of becoming the great joke of our time, God will not stop telling His story through His followers. The hope of man rests with God’s Church--and where there is hope, there will be songs and stories and pictures of things to come.