Since we made our name ripping music that makes God sound like a florid sex partner or a flashing JumboTron, we have a pretty big soft spot for people still out there waging the righteous but pointless battle against the inanity of Christian music. That no one should expect any theological dept or spiritual seriousness out of what now passes for "church music" became a fossilized fact long before we started writing in 2006. But now, Anglican bishop Nick Baines suggests we look back even further to say, 1885, when some obviously-childless dude in Philadelphia composed "Away in a Manger."
In Why Wish You A Merry Christmas: What Matters (And What Doesn't) in the Festive Season, Baines powerfully echoes the doctrine of The CCM Patrol: Christmas carols are too hazy, childish, soft-edged and have way too many Victorian references to Jesus being the likes of "tender and mild." Kind of like when we said all those evangelical worship lyrics sound like the nauseating love scenes in romance novels and lead to the inevitable conclusion that God either is a pussy or has one.
"I can understand the little children being quite taken with the sort of baby of whom it can be said 'no crying he makes,' but how can any adult sing this without embarrassment?" Baines wonders, basically reiterating the mantra we once repeated ad nauseum: how can adults sing this stuff?
"They bring a smile to people’s faces. There’s nothing wrong with feeling like children at Christmas," says a disputing music professor in the Telegraph, basically reiterating the response of our numerous critics: they're just simple songs to Jesus!
We gotta say, though, Bishop, you have picked yourself a lonely fight; Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins will probably be your only friends after this. Be prepared to be informed by people you have never met that you are not a Christian and that, by refusing to utter the kind of mindless babblings Jesus condemned, you hate the very church in which you serve. We can't claim such bravery: At least when we went after Chris Tomlin, a big number of Christians — and the entire rest of the world — already agreed with us.
"I am just not prepared to encourage people to live in a fantasy world, but doing my job as a Christian bishop in calling people back to the original story," Baines writes on his blog. "Grasp it – and then celebrate hard and fully. I’ll be belting out the carols and watching the nativity plays along with the rest of them. But I will also be living in the real world and engaging my brain."
We may not write much about Christian music anymore, but we'll still drink to that!
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