Tom Pittman's WebLog

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2004 June 30 -- Plastic Music

The church I currently attend has an "orchestra": one violin, one very good flute, a clarinet, and I think an electric bass guitar. Sometimes some brass, but not very often. For a church that size, I think it's wonderful. The pianist is quite skillful, and they choose pretty good hymns. I don't, but if I were to choose a church on its music, this would be high on the list.

But when they present vocal music, they don't use their own qualified musicians, they play a CD sound track. I call it "plastic music." This leads me to ask, What's the point?

Who are they singing for, God? Or for the entertainment of the congregation? As entertainers, they have a long way to go to compete with the vocal track on that same CD. But we don't go to church to be entertained, do we? What's the point?

I read the Psalms, one per day. With a few adjustments for 31-day months, this fills out exactly five months. Today was the end of the cycle, Psalm 150 on June 30. It's a wonderful psalm of praise to God. Three churches ago they had a Sunday School song that set this to very colorful music, with instrumental runs and trills to accentuate the various instruments in the psalm. The point of music in the church is to praise God. The singers praise God. The instrumentalists praise God. We get to hear them praise God, but they are doing it for God more than for us, right?

But the plastic music, is that for God? God already heard that particular recording -- in the recording studio. It cannot be for our entertainment, because that's not what church is about, is it? Why can't the singers use local talent (when it is available, as it is in this church) to accompany their praise? Then two people, not just the soloist, get to praise God.

We live in a plastic, throw-away society. Plastic is chintzy, cheap. What we do for God should be better than that.