Philosophical Primer

What Type Of Dressing Do You Prefer On Your Music Salad?

My artist friend Laurel Says:  "I was born in the 50's. I grew up on rock 'n roll. It's what I like. Since I happen to prefer that type of music and since I'm a dedicated Believer in the truth found in Jesus Christ's teachings, I merge the two from my perspective and tastes and use it to show the world the universal vitality of the Living Lord. It's like taking salad oil and vinegar (with a few spices, of course), and pouring it over my "salad of life." To many people, it "tastes" good while others would prefer mayonnaise and ketchup mixed up.
You see, music has to do with taste. Some like folk. Some like classical. Some like country and western. The list goes on and on. Why is it that when we walk into the majority of our churches today, they only serve up one type of dressing? (Either praise band - video screen or piano, organ with five verse hymns, march sounding music.) We, who are called to be the "salt of the earth" are serving up a bland one of a kind menu. We sit and wonder where all the youth, young adults, progressive seniors and exploring spiritual seekers are. We expect them to like the same KIND of dressing" with NO SUBSTITUTIONS thank you! I think the Master Chef grieves over our lack of creativity. It's time for God's people to open the doors of their hearts and serve a "variety" on the menu. I’m willing to taste something new. How 'bout you?" - Laurel Lear
My friend Laurel wrote the above expression years ago in a story style that has encouraged many people to express themselves creatively through a variety of settings: worship celebrations, camps, classrooms, retreats, and in various personal ways. Many groups are still stuck in an "older style" but now many groups are stuck in a so-called "newer style" that is just as rigid as the old one they rebelled against. Have variety!!!!
Living is not something you do...
It's how you do it!................. Attitude

Many people today want instant gratification or be entertained, without thinking, feeling and being part of the participation process. Avoid the "crank it out syndrome," have imaginative involvement.
In the late 60's and early 70's, our eclectic and asymmetric songbook was published and became part of a pioneering movement promoting different styles of music and group dynamics to change a rigid formula based musicology. Many positive changes toward an eclectic type of music have been accepted in some institutions, but in some places this new musical freedom has developed its own particular sound and has come full circle. It has created. a set of rules and formulas using a same kind of "organ only mentality" with a certain-style of hymn format and philosophy just like the past but with a new wrapping. Instead of the main instrument being an organ or piano it has been replaced with electric guitars, electric bass, electric keyboard, drums, with several people mic'd, a computerized overhead projector, and the volume on loud. This is the new criteria that has been formulated and copied, and if the music is not done that way it is considered wrong. So we have musical wars between two extremes who have the same rigid mentality.
Now we have returned to the one salad dressing fits all situations. We have allowed this formulated sound to be offered to us in a "boxed" format where only certain musical performers are able to present it. Don't get me wrong. I love playing with guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and back-up singers but it has become a generic, bland, performance. When only one type of music is played it excludes singing a variety of (as the first century spiritual leader Paul put it) Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. This song variety has substance, meets various needs, personalities, and deeply touches people's feelings for community. It's a way of respecting where all people are in their lives. We need soft music for some feelings as well as up-beat music for other feelings. The way a song is sung or how a rhythm is used determines it's appropriateness. Music will help spark the life force in all of us so let's not get fixated on one kind of music or one way to do a particular song. It's time to head back to the salad song bar and select various salad dressings for all kinds of tastes and situations. This songbook supports that philosophy with song variety.

Psalms (Expression songs about all of life, love, justice, protest, joy, depression, etc. that are sometimes considered secular songs. They have an "awakeness" of real life to them with passion, emotion, and a. message of life values that connects us to the source of all. There is nothing like a blues song to sing away the blues (actually examples found In the Psalms) and be open to God's JOY and blessings. Many, rock, pop, country etc. songs are from scripture and other positive teachings, but dressed-up with new lyrics and contemporary tunes. We call them "Plain-Clothed-Psalms.")

Hymns (Informational teaching songs about: values, the spiritual dimension, and respecting all forms of God's compassion, and how to treat each other and one's self. These are objective, practical and well thought-out crafted lyrics that reinforce our knowledge of the compassionate, joyful, merciful and justice loving Heart of God we live in. We call these Plain-Clothed-Hymns.")
Spiritual Songs (Personal feelings that are almost "blurted out" from a deep sense of emotion and compassion of how individuals feel about their own spiritual path and acknowledging with ecstasy our Source and the one God of all Light, Love and Life. There is lots of freedom for individual interpretation of how the spirit has touched them. Many times these kinds of songs are found in "so-called" secular songs that I like to refer to as "Plain Clothed Spirit Songs." The spirit can be expressed in many ways.
Let's sing songs from these categories by accepting each others tastes, various expressions of joy, participation with music, and passions that will release the soul (body and Spirit) to be non-rigid. Although many people relate to an old time gospel, classical hymn and lyric style, (I grew up with that expression), I have a hard time relating to many of the so-called old hymns because many of the verses contain exclusivity, shame, unforgiveness, warlike attitudes and many other abuses. Often times the "marching type" rhythm played with these songs almost trivialize their contents. By using a different rhythm style a whole new meaning is often created for these songs (ie: Morning Has Broken, Leaning On The Everlasting Arms, Blessed Assurance, etc.). It is the lyrics combined with the energy of how the song is sung that makes it come alive. How about starting with a soft song that reflects where people are NOW!

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