Derek Webb recently did an interview with Chris Stedman for the Huffington Post. The entire interview is worth reading, but the part that really caught my attention was the way Derek brilliantly summarized the main issue I have with Christian music (emphasis mine):
You can’t please everybody, and I don’t do this to please everybody. But the job of any artist is to look at the world and tell you what they see. Every artist, whether they acknowledge it or know it, has a grid through which they view the world and make sense of what they see. Even if it’s a grid of unbelief — that you don’t think there is anything orchestrating the world and that everything is completely random — that is a grid through which you make sense of the world.
A lot of “Christian art” is about the lens they’re looking through, rather than the world they see through it. I’m not going to criticize anybody for doing that, but I would rather look at the world through the grid of following Jesus and tell you what I see. But that doesn’t presume that all the art I’m going to make will be about following Jesus.
As a songwriter, and as a person who grew up in the church, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I don’t lean towards writing songs that fit within the normal “Christian” label (for better or worse). I also don’t find much value in music that does.Â I recognize that there’s a place for songs “about the lens,” but I’ve found that I’m much more challenged and fulfilled by writing about the world while looking through this set of lenses.