Bob's Basement

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share his thoughts.

Richard Wayne Mullins - 1955 to 1997

It was on this day 20 years ago that Rich Mullins was killed in a car accident on his way to a benefit concert in Kansas. At the time of his death, Rich was only moderately popular and had never won any awards - not even for his internationally-famous worship songs which are still sung in churches throughout the world.

i-still-miss-rich-mullins

The exact cause of the crash which took Rich's life is still unknown, although you can read the details about the crash online. That being said, I will never forget how I learned about Rich's untimely death at the young age of 41. My daughter and I were driving through the empty deserts of west Texas on our way home to Dallas after attending a youth conference in Tucson, AZ. I had been channel surfing on the radio and trying to find something to listen to, which was rather difficult since we were out in the middle of nowhere. I discovered a radio station which was playing a song by Rich Mullins, whom I had always admired, and I remarked to my daughter that we needed to see Rich in concert whenever he came through Dallas.

After the song had ended, an announcer came on the radio and delivered the news that Rich Mullins had just been killed in a car accident. My daughter and I were both stunned, and for some reason I found myself crying a lot over the next several hours as we continued our drive home to Dallas. (This has always been a mystery about myself for which I have yet to find an acceptable answer: why was I so upset about someone whom I had never met? It has been 20 years, and I think that part of my emotional makeup will remain unsolved, but to be honest - I'm not too worried about it.)

Nevertheless, I often wonder where Rich's career might have gone if he had not passed away at such an early age. He tended to be openly blunt about sin and judgmentalism within the church, which is one reason why he was largely overlooked and often ostracized by the "Contemporary Christian Music" industry until after his death, (when the establishment was suddenly forced to deal with the reality of their hypocrisy). With that in mind, if Rich were alive today, he would probably still be living in veritable obscurity in a hogan on the Navajo reservation in northern New Mexico, where Rich was working as a music teacher in self-imposed destitution after taking a voluntary vow of poverty.

If nothing else, Rich Mullins was certainly unique; I still miss him and his music.

Posted: Sep 19 2017, 10:00 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Is Syndicated Christian Music the World's Most Boring Genre?

I used to live in the Dallas Forth Worth area, which helps form the lower band of the Bible Belt. While we were there, my wife and I were fortunate to have a wealth of local Christian radio stations and concerts to choose from. It didn't matter which subgenre you preferred: pop, rock, gospel, praise, etc.; there was always a radio station for you to listen to.

However, after moving away from that region, we have been forced to suffer through the following syndicated options:

All three of these syndicated radio stations continually spew never-ending streams of utterly forgettable music. The playlists for these stations often consist of unimaginative and trite originals, or generic attempts at copying secular music genres (yet falling several years behind what is current).

One of the most-common problems the Christian music genres face is endemic to Christian music in general, and this is the constant insistence that "the lyrics are more important than musicianship." This mindset is, of course, a ridiculous proposal. Not only does it completely ignore Psalm 33:3, but it means that the bulk of Christian music cannot be taken seriously; because if the people who are creating Christian music cannot take their craft seriously, then no one else will.

That being said, the Christian music industry is just that - an industry. And like it's secular counterparts, the Christian music industry attempts to crank out hit after hit in an effort to prolong their revenue stream. Let me be clear: I am a capitalist at heart, and I have no problems in principle with anyone who chooses make their living by sustaining a successful product line. However, those responsible for producing Christian music fail to realize that by turning out an endless torrent of pedestrian drivel, they are putting themselves out of business. I guarantee that fewer and fewer people are buying Christian music because - to put it bluntly - most of it is crap.

While the Christian music industry is afflicted with serious problems with regard to a general lack of musical inspiration, a willing accomplice to Christian music's crimes against itself are the syndicated radio stations who continue to cycle through hideously short playlists of repetitive melodies and prosaic, middle-school rhymes. I ask anyone who listens to Christian music to answer these questions honestly:

  • How many times per hour does someone really need to hear Chris Tomlin?
  • Couldn't the lyrics to "Good, Good Father" have been written a heck of a lot better? (Yes they could, yes they could, yes they could.)

In closing, there are thousands of wonderful Christian musicians around the globe, but chances are good that you'll probably never hear them. The people at the helm for charting the course of the Christian music industry are not interested in talented musicians; they are far too preoccupied with trying to produce next year's crop of bland and predictable "hit makers." In a like manner, if you tune into any of the syndicated radio stations that I listed above, then you'll have to endure hours of songs from Chris Tomlin, Matthew West, tobyMac, and something from MercyMe or Casting Crowns, (who are secretly the same band anyway... yes they are, yes they are, yes they are).

Posted: Sep 10 2017, 17:27 by bob | Comments (0)
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Forgiveness and Restoration

I stumbled across the following article recently, which briefly discusses an issue that our family has struggled with:

How to Extend Forgiveness and Set a Boundary

Without going into too much detail, someone in our family hurt my children; and by that I mean this person really hurt my children – in life-altering ways. When someone injures your children, you want them to be punished; you want them to suffer for the years of pain your children have had to endure. And yet for reasons I cannot explain, this person has never faced justice. We cut this person out of our lives as you would with any other cancer, but unfortunately that is the most that we can do.

That being said, our family is predominantly populated with Christians who want everyone and everything to be "forgiven," and for all of us to get along as one big, happy family. However, since the person who caused all of this pain and suffering has never changed, any semblance of restoration is probably never going to happen, for reasons which should be obvious to anyone who loves their children. But seeing as how it was only my children who were hurt, my wife and I have received countless comments from other family members asking whether we have "forgiven" the pernicious person who is the source of our family troubles. We have assured everyone that we have, which then leads to the questions about why can't our "lives go back to the way they were before all of this started."

First of all, the way our lives were before "all of this started" does not mean that the guilty party wasn't hurting other people; it was just happening to people outside our immediate family, and being swept under the rug because people chose not to see that it was happening. But that is a different problem for a different day.

The problem which currently faces our family is: what does it mean to forgive someone?

For some of our family members, "forgiveness" means a complete and total restoration. But that is a totally naïve sentiment, and it completely ignores or trivializes the suffering of those whose lives were damaged. My wife and I have tried to explain time and again that we have "forgiven" the person who wounded our family, but we have no desire to rekindle a relationship with the guilty party. To other family members this looks like "unforgiveness," whereas to me this looks like "common sense." One should not willingly subject their loved ones to a harmful person in the name of "forgiveness."

This is why I enjoyed the article which I mentioned earlier; in that piece, Dr. Cloud did a great job of summarizing the different parts of a restoration process, which I will paraphrase and adapt to our family's situation:

Forgiveness: This is letting go of what you believe is your right to punish someone for how they hurt you. My wife and I have done so; it was difficult, but holding onto unforgiveness is more harmful to yourself than it is to others. Or as a popular idiom states, "Holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."

Reconciliation: This is when the other person apologizes and accepts forgiveness; this has not happened within our family. In fact, the guilty party is still asserting that he or she has never done anything wrong, and recently demanded an apology for the years which he or she was denied access to our family. With this person's attitudes in mind, any hope of reconciliation is currently impossible.

Trust: This is when you allow a person whom you have forgiven back into your life. This may be a long, slow process, because it involves re-establishing your confidence that the person who hurt you will not do so again. In our family's situation, the person responsible for all of the suffering still insists no wrong-doing, so there can be no reasonable assumption that this person will not hurt someone again. Perhaps he or she will not wound someone in the same way as before, but still – I do not trust this person around my spouse or children.

Bringing this discussion to a close, we need to make a clear distinction between "forgiveness" and "reconciliation" in our lives. When we confuse these actions, we may subject ourselves to further injury. We certainly need to forgive those who harm us, but it is up to the other person to reconcile the situation and to re-establish trust. If the other person is unwilling to do so, then you are far better off without them in your life.


By the way, the following book by Jerry Cook is a good resource for anyone who is faced with difficult life situations and questions about forgiveness:

Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness: Being Christian in a Non-Christian World

Posted: Jul 19 2017, 11:22 by bob | Comments (0)
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Thinking Backwards about the Environment

I mentioned to my wife the other day that the question of ecological conservatism is backwards from a political perspective.

The typical definition of Liberals versus Conservatives is that "Liberals" (who are often called "Progressives") are rushing forward in the name of progress (sometimes foolishly) while "Conservatives" are fighting hard to preserve what is already there (sometimes like a stick in the mud; just as stubbornly and just as stupidly).

These two points of view will often fight vehemently against the other on issues simply because they feel that they "have to disagree," and not because they actually disagree. Preserving the planet is one such example - I think that most of the arguments that I hear from one side or the other are more often about disagreeing with the opposing position than about the actual issue.

But here's where it gets really strange: when it comes to saving the planet, somehow it is the "Liberals" who want to conserve, and it is the "Conservatives" who are rushing forward in the name of progress (often foolishly) and irrevocably damaging the planet.

But there's an interesting wrinkle in this debate which is often overlooked within the church: many Christians are Conservatives, and as such they join their fellow Conservatives when it comes to fighting issues like ecology. But according to Scripture, Christians have been charged with taking care of the environment, so they should really be trying their best to preserve the planet. So why do most church-goers seem to be fighting against environmentalism?

As I mentioned initially, this whole situation is inexplicably backwards; it just doesn't make sense to me.

I'll get off my soapbox now...

Posted: Aug 14 2013, 16:20 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Bad Christians

I recently saw this video: http://youtu.be/vnJBW49afzg

Let's put this in perspective - a group of self-professed 'Christians' shows up uninvited to a Muslim Arab Festival, where they are confrontational to the Muslims and insulting to the police, and they are carrying signs with slogans like "Repent - your party will burn in the lake of fire (01:14)," "Islam is a religion of Blood & Murder! (03:26)," "Be not believers in drunkards, whoremongers, idolaters, sodomites, fornicators (04:30)," "I am truth and the life - all others are thieves are robbers (04:30)."

No - this was not an act of random violence by a group of Muslim extremists who were targeting an innocent group of Christians; this was a deliberately-staged set of contentious actions by some very unbalanced people who claim to be Christians in order to provoke the very attack that transpired. These otherwise peaceful Arab-Americans were enjoying a day of celebration of their faith and heritage, and these so-called Christians showed up and behaved in an extremely insulting manner, shouting insults with a megaphone and slandering the Muslim faith - these 'Christians' might just as well have been Nazis based on their behavior. The police were 100% correct is telling these fools that they were the cause of the trouble.

Let's reverse things for a moment - let's say that you were a Christian at a peaceful church gathering when a group of atheists showed up to protest by using a megaphone to hurl insults at your religion and they carried signs that proclaimed that Jesus was a drunkard & whoremonger who was the illegitimate son of unwed slut, you would be more than a little offended. You might not personally react with physical violence, but if you had a few thousand Christians in one place when a publicly-outspoken group of atheists or Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims showed up and behaved as provocatively as these 'Christians' did, I can 100% guarantee that someone would eventually lose their cool and start throwing things.

This video is a perfect example of how Christians should NOT behave, and they are certainly not following Christ's example. This is not a question of exercising freedom of speech or freedom of religion - this is a question of exercising good judgment and Christ's love; this group of 'Christians' exhibited neither.

Self-professed 'Christians' like those in this video should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted: Jun 27 2012, 10:07 by bob | Comments (0)
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