I’m not an atheist in the traditional sense, but I’m an atheist when it comes to Christian Rock. Those two words just don’t fit together. They oppose each other, like Dubstep Unplugged and Amish Casino. As far as art forms go, Christian Rock is more painful than extreme body piercing.
Now, before it seems like I’m updating my resume for admittance into hell, I should note that I’m biased on the matter. I live entirely too close to a progressive church, and so I am subjected against my will to Christian Rock in my own residence. Every Sunday morning, disagreeable music seeps through my floorboards, walls, and windows. My bed becomes engulfed in a plodding death march of drums, and instruments too stricken with guilt to express joy, and redundant, gravelly testaments about everything from God to the Supreme Being to Our Heavenly Father.
Furthermore, I’ll gladly admit that some faith-based music has merit. Oddly enough, a few summers ago, I lived in a place beside a church on the north side of Chicago. When that choir’s renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “This Little Light of Mine” carried into my bedroom, my emotions were stirred. I became less of a grouch. The choir’s tone was one of perseverance, of overcoming our struggles to find love and hope all around us, and they sang with galvanizing soul.
Christian Rock has soul, too, I guess, but it’s the soul of an adult who demands to be scolded after tripping down a flight of stairs and accidentally blurting out the “s-word.”
On a philosophical level, Christian Rock is confusing. If God is truly, perfectly virtuous, wouldn’t that make Him supremely HUMBLE, too? After all, the word of God preaches humility, not arrogance. (“Blessed are the meek,” yes?) If God doesn’t endorse egotism, why would He demand that we all constantly stroke His divine ego? He wouldn’t require an entire genre of music that’s entirely obsessed with commending Him all the time. My understanding of God is that He’d probably be content with a simple “thanks” and an occasional tribute of “Amazing Grace” on holidays.
If I’m wrong about that, and God is the most adamant supporter of Christian Rock in the universe, I’m in trouble, sure, but we’d all be in trouble, the members of Third Day included. God as a Christian Rock aficionado could actually be terrifying. It’s got to be impossible for mankind to match God’s ability to criticize, or to compete with his love of Himself. What if God, the Christian Rock fanatic, and an infallible one at that, voiced his displeasure to the players at Life Fest in their dreams?
“Terry! Thou hast disappointed me.”
“Wha? Whatever do you mean, Lord?”
“Sigh. Your debut recording, Infinite Praise, was a double album, but your latest album, Never-ending Worship, was only one disc. That’s two full hours of telling Me how awesome I am down to a measly 45 minutes of telling Me how awesome I am. What, do you suddenly love Me less?! Did I get a lot less awesome between the years of 2012 and 2014? Because that is the impression I get from your erroneously titled Never-ending Worship.”
“Oh, what have we done?” Terry cries. “Lord, I speak for the entirety of Rage Against the Pagans when I beg for your forgiveness. You see, there was pressure from the record company to make the album divinely concise…”
“Silence!” God bellows. “I decree that you begin work immediately on a TRIPLE album! And until the deed is finished to my approval, I shall torment you by giving you nightmares about gay hippies.”
“Nooooo!” Terry howls with righteous despair.
With that horrific scene gone from our lives forever, I’d like to reiterate that I’m not opposed to faith or religious music entirely, but I do sincerely wish the church in my whereabouts stepped up their game tunefully. The solution calls for some sacrilege, perhaps, but my alternative to Christian Rock in church would still uphold causes such as offering food drives for the hungry, free counseling for troubled souls, and a spirit of togetherness. My prospective church would mostly be different due to its preference for secular music and harmless hints at “false idols.” This idyllic place of worship would at least be a better representation of Rock—if not the Christian part. If not me, somebody needs to found a Church of Zeppelin.
A few pillars of the Church of Zeppelin are as follows: No mass on Sundays. We know better than to try competing with the NFL.
That’s basically like the programmers of a TV Land rerun of Murder She Wrote expecting to get higher ratings than the Super Bowl.
It’s ridiculous! And we don’t have early morning masses, either, since the music of Led Zeppelin clearly favors the night. The Church’s masses are held once a month. We don’t want to overdo it! We live in an insanely busy world with overfilling dates in our calendars. The Church of Zeppelin would therefore congregate at 8 pm on the first Tuesday of every month.
We’re not going to be sticklers about attendance. Parishioners who find themselves stuck in an ongoing communication breakdown with the Church of Zeppelin are welcome to return on any given first Tuesday of the month to cleverly admit, “It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled.”
Opening sermons could begin with the cryptic words, “Many times I’ve wondered how much there is to know…” Brief remarks would be made by the preacher, whom we refer to as the Hed Zeppelin Honcho, who would quote insightful scripture such as, “I’m telling you now, the greatest thing you ever could do now, is trade a smile with someone that’s blue now.”
After that, the congregation would pretty much just mingle and visit nicely with one another while rocking out to Led Zeppelin for 45 minutes. There is no penalty for leaving early, but if doing so causes you to miss seeing a group of smartly dressed beautiful ladies swaying in unison as they sing along to “Fool in the Rain,” it’s your loss, pal.
No topical guidelines are imposed while socializing and enjoying Zeppelin, but if you’d care to discuss the songs and legacy of perhaps the best band ever, you’re welcome to do that. Consider “Your Time Is Gonna Come.” Is it about a scandalous lover or Jesus? I don’t know, discuss! For an even longer conversation that could easily verge on endless, ponder “What Is and What Should Never Be.”
Even if you’ve got claptrap theories about Robert Plant being the reincarnation of Bilbo Baggins, feel free to ramble on.
Now, to be entirely forthcoming, I’m too lazy and easily distracted to found the Church of Zeppelin. There’s got to be a lot of paperwork and financing involved in an enterprise like that, so count me out. But somewhere in Wisconsin, or wherever in the world this gets read, maybe I could act as the muse for a living loving maid whose dazed and confused state of mind becomes enlightened by the potential of the Church of Zeppelin. Yes, there are two paths she can go by (one that dismisses this story as nonsense and the other that gives it some thought) but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road she’s on. I can almost see her pretty face now, biting her lip and nodding reflectively, then searching for rental properties online, making a phone call or two, and opening her checkbook…
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
Nick Olig is a freelance writer of sardonic musings, and has written two books,compilations of his work which are available on-line.