Posted in Writing

Novel Scene: The Ethics of Christian Music

**So, I finished my first novel, The Divine Romance of Ethan Grey, in February 2014. I began to shop it around for agents, and was told it was a good concept, but the manuscript needed work. I began massive editing and got to where I couldn’t see the forest for the trees anymore. So, I put it away for about a year.

Today, I finally brought it back out, and I am reading it with fresh eyes. I ran across this scene, and I thought I’d put out it here. This is a good representation of what the heart of the book is. I’ve posted deleted scenes before, so if you don’t remember the characters/plot synopsis, they are here. 

In this scene, the band is performing at a youth group, and they are having a church dinner before the show. **

Excerpt: The Divine Romance of Ethan Grey 

Dinner was cheap pizza with chips and soda served in a backroom. Chattering teenagers filled the room and Switchfoot played overhead, while the rumble of foosball echoed from an open doorway.

Keely, Chris and Derek, quickly becoming the “teen trio,” commanded a rowdy group gathered around someone’s laptop.
Josh and Erin sat with their plates and whispered in a quiet corner.

Ethan watched the tension in Josh’s body language and wanted to laugh. Been there, man. Been there. He saw Adam fix a plate, and then slip out the door on the phone. He kept forgetting Adam was married. He made his own plate, and scanned the room for Alli. Where was she?

He shot her a text and joined Phil and the youth pastor, Jay in a deep conversation. Phil had known Jay back in his YWAM days, and had booked this show after reconnecting with him on Facebook. When Ethan sat, they greeted him warmly and then continued.

“What I’m wondering is,” Jay was saying, “why Christian music? Why not the secular market?”

Phil rubbed his hands together and smiled uncomfortably. Ethan smirked inside. How many times had he had wanted to ask that question he could not count.

“I only ask because I wonder about the theology of Christian music,” Jay continued. “Christian music was started by hippies who believed Jesus was coming back literally any day. They wanted to spread the message through the most influential medium of their time—music. Now, it’s a billion dollar industry complete with record companies and celebrities. And, I wonder if God is even pleased by it. Theologically, should we be separating ourselves out like that?”

“Well,” Phil said taking a sip of soda from a foam cup. “I think there’s room and function for both. I do believe that Christians need to be active in the mainstream conversations going on in our culture. I think the lack of it is why we have such a void right now. I wonder, now, if a Christian in popular culture can even be heard. And, that’s certainly a battle worth fighting. But, I think for us, that’s not our fight. I think there is a role to provide entertainment that is God-centered. For us, we want to create good music, coming from an explicitly Christian worldview, that encourages and uplifts Christians. After all, if no one preaches to the choir, will there be a choir left?”

Jay stroked his chin as he thought about that. “What do you think about the state of Christian music?”

Phil cleared his throat. “That’s a loaded question. And I think a lot of people have a lot of opinions about it. Christian music has grown light years in the last decade or so. I think artistically we’ve reached the same place as mainstream music.”

“Right,” Jay said perking up. “But it’s lost a lot of aggressiveness. We keep it simple and non-offensive. But Christ was offensive. The gospel is offensive. I listen to Christian radio and I think, ‘We’ve lost something.’ I’d like to see Christian music get back its cajones, man. That’s what’s going to speak to people. That’s what’s going to draw people in.”

Phil sighed and a sad look came over his face. “We’re in the middle of a culture war,” he said softly. “We can’t afford to be offensive.”

Jay shook his head. “But isn’t that the time to be offensive?”

Phil sat up straighter. “We don’t have to offend people to get them to accept Christ. The Bible says it’s his kindness that leads us to repentance.”

“I don’t mean offending people to get them saved. But, I mean not being so…milquestoasty-lukewarm-inspirational-market ‘let’s just love everybody,’ kinda stuff. That’s not what changes people. It just makes them feel loved in their sin, and still miserable because they’re bound up in lies and deception. When we understand that the enemy has lied to us and is stealing from us, we’re going to get mad, and we’re going to fight back. We need to prepare this generation to be end-time warriors. This is the martyr generation!”

Phil sighed. “Look, Jay, you and I go way back. We were radicals back in those days.”

Jay laughed. “Man, we were crazy.”

Phil continued. “But, I don’t have the same kind of fight I did in my twenties. I don’t know that…” his voice trailed off and he toyed with his plate. “I don’t know that I have the martyr in me anymore. I’ve got kids.”

Jay slammed the table. “Exactly. You’ve got something to protect. You’ve got everything to lose.”

Phil nodded. “I hear what you’re saying. But ultimately, that school of thought is based on a culture of fear. That’s what I don’t believe God is pleased with.”

Jay shook his head and said sadly. “I feel like I don’t even know you anymore.”

Jay got up and walked away and Phil sighed. He leaned his chin onto his fingers.

“He’s intense,” Ethan commented.

“Yeah,” Phil said. “I used to be that way.”

“What happened?”

Phil shook his head.“I grew up,” he said, a wistful note of regret in his voice.

He rose from the table and gathered the band for prayer in the office.

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