“Christian Music”

… doesn’t include Byrd, Tallis, Taverner, Josquin, or Hildegard. That’s sad.

I mostly manage to maintain a philosophic attitude toward the capture of the word “Christian” by a combination of the most extreme fundamentalist Protestants, the blow-dried mega-church entrepreneurs, the Gospel-of-Wealth hustlers, the folks awaiting the Rapture, the Christianist politicians, and the sort of people who start up “Christian” dating sites and who produce and consume “Christian Pop” cultural artifacts and performances.

After all, I’m not a Christian. If the respectable Christians can’t, or don’t want to, defend their brand name, what’s it to me?

On the other hand, as long as the word “Christian”retains its positive connotation, it’s generally A Bad Thing to have it captured by fools, fanatics, and scoundrels. And it’s a mark of a degenerating culture to have its dominant religion so thoroughly dumbed-down.

Aside from that, though, I have to confess to a completely personal grievance when it comes to “Christian” music. As it happens, I’m a devotee of Renaissance and pre-Renaissance Western European choral church music. I don’t believe an Afterlife, but if it’s true that Byrd’s motets are “the soundtrack of Heaven” I’m going to be really, really sorry to miss the movie. Seeing a “Christian Music” section in a CD store or music website and knowing that “Christian Music” excludes Hildegard, Josquin, Taverner, Tallis, and Byrd makes me very sad.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com