Christian Music Retrospective, aka Trix Are For God’s Children

I listened exclusively to Christian music all the way until I discovered bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam – ten years after everyone else. CCM isn’t all bad, and I still have some of my old favorites in the iTunes rotation, but there’s a lot of Christian songs that are derivative at best and lyrically problematic at worst. Here are a couple songs that I enjoyed as kid but now recognize as falling into the latter category.

Newsboys, “Breakfast”

Hold the milk, put back the sugar
They are powerless to console
We’re gathered here to sprinkle ashes
From our late friend’s cereal bowl

Hell is a bad place, right? Just the worst. Between the gnashing of teeth, brimstone, and shit-covered suck-ups, it surpasses even Florida for least desirable final destinations. Stunningly, it took until 1996 for the Newsboys to uncover the most sinister aspect of hell, one even Revelations was too timid to reveal: inadequate catering.

When the toast has burned
And all the milk has turned
And Captain Crunch is waving farewell
When the Big One finds you
May this song remind you that
They don’t serve breakfast in hell

The Newsboys were the first Christian band that really caught my attention. They’re still going today with a more worshipful tone, but some of their earlier work was sardonic and oddly confrontational.

Back when the chess club said our eggs were soft
Every Monday he’d say grace and hold our juice aloft
Oh, none of us knew his check-out time would come so soon
But before his brain stopped waving, he composed this tune

The whole point of hell as described by the Bible is “You don’t want to be there.” Its portrayal is a contrast to the eternal bliss and wonder of heaven, and you as the reader are intended to fearfully recoil from your sinful trajectory and rush with gratitude into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. However, the perils of hell seem diminished when couched in cheeky wordplay and cereal puns. It makes the decision to follow Christ seem as inconsequential as choosing between Cocoa or Fruity Pebbles.

Those here without the Lord, how do you cope?
For this morning we don’t mourn like those who have no hope
Oh, rise up Fruit Loop lovers, sing out Sweet and Low
With spoons held high, we bid our brother Cheerio

See also: Relient K, “My Girlfriend”; The W’s, “The Devil is Bad”

Chris Rice, “Cartoons”

I was thinkin’ the other day,
What if cartoons got saved?
They’d start singing praise
In a whole new way

Christian culture gets pretty bizarre once you’re on the outside looking in. You find yourself asking the question, over and over again, “Why did I ever think this was normal?” The question could be applied to everything from the ritualistic simulated cannibalism of your revered founder to the mental state it must take to watch Saturday morning cartoons and wonder, “But what if they were Teenage Mutant Christian Turtles?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
“Cowabunga-loo-jah, Dude!”
Then there’s, “Kermit the Frog here, singing,
And that little bald guy, Elmer Fudd:

Admittedly, this is a novelty song, the Christian equivalent of “What Does the Fox Say?”, but the theological implications of it are astounding. How could the Flintstones know about Jesus in prehistoric Bedrock? Do all dogs go to heaven if they enunciate, “Resus ried on the ross ror my rins”?

Oh that big old moose and his friend Rocky
And our favorite bear named Yogi
“Hey, Boo-boo-boo-loo-jah”
Then there’s all those little blue guys
And they’d sing, “Hah-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-lay-loo-jah”
How about Beavis and that other guy?

Most distressing is the acknowledgement that some cartoon characters are beyond salvation. Beavis and Butthead were only teenagers with plenty of time to turn their lives around. If only someone would introduce them to Christian metal, perhaps they would be less like the Great Cornholio and more like the Great I AM!