Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Of the world, but not in it"

At 4:00 p.m. on this Friday afternoon , T Bone Burnett met with a crowd of about 100 people in the auditorium of Calvin College's Fine Art Center to discuss the role of the Christian artist in society, and his own music. Burnett made a few brief comments and then fielded questions from the crowd for nearly an hour-and-a-half as he sipped a Pepsi One. In the past, Burnett has gone on record as being very critical of the American church and his opening comments seemed to head in that direction. He talked about a letter Jerry Falwell had written to the Los Angeles Times several months ago criticizing President Clinton for not being genuinely repentant for the recent scandals. T-Bone then read a letter he had written in response to Falwell. It was full of frustration and anger at the faction of the church represented by the likes of Falwell and Pat Robertson.
As he continued to talk, it soon became very evident that T-Bone is not self-righteous in his anger or sarcastic merely for the sake of being sarcastic. This is a man who has a deep love of God and is concerned about the direction the American church, or the E-Church as he called it, is heading in. (The E-Church is the Evangelical Church, The Electronic church, the church that packages Jesus for consumption by the masses.) As he sees it, the E-Church and its media have compromised with evil in their political/publicity campaign and become a fountain of despair. It has twisted Jesus' words around and become and an institution of the world, but not in the world.
The church should instead be a source of grace, hope, mercy, redemption and peace. It is to this aim that T-Bone seeks to live his life. "For the last 20 hears I have been endeavoring to truly be in the world but not of the world. But I'm horribly of the world and I screw up," he admitted, and added later, "We are Christians because we are redeemed." He also commented, "People like myself, Bruce Cockburn, Bono and Bob Dylan have tried to bring love and perspective and Christ to people who can't hear Jerry Falwell."
..A while later he noted, "I don't believe there's such a thing as Christian music. All I know about the Christian music business is that they ask you `Are you doing this for the Lord?'.... which means they don't want to pay you."
...Later, at his concert, he finished with "You Are My Darkness," an answer song to "You Are My Sunshine."*

*"You are my darkness / I crawl through you / feeling my way / to no light." link

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