What’s common between U. S. military prisons and churches? (updated in comments)

Blaring hard rock music and going mad.

CBSNews.com reports that U. S. military detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay systematically used loud music on hundreds of suspected terrorist detainees. The tactic was designed “to create fear, disorient … and prolong capture shock.”

Detainees reported that “plenty lost their minds… it makes you feel like you are going mad,” and they “wound up screaming and smashing their heads against walls, unable to endure more.” One detainee summarized how this blaring hard rock destroys the mind, “It sort of removes you from you. You can no longer formulate your own thoughts when you’re in an environment like that.”

This confirms what I (and others who adhere to Biblical and historical Reformed Worship) have said for a long time: that hard rock music is one reason for the mindlessness and wackiness of so-called evangelical churches. It is not only that hard rock warps the mind – as the detainees assert – but the huge amount of time (and money) spent on so-called “praise and worship” plus “altar calls” is disproportionately more than that spent on the ordinary means of grace: reading and preaching the Word, sacraments and prayer.

I have visited many churches in the Philippines, and a church without blaring hard rock is an absolute rarity. A typical so-called evangelical church meets in a small place the size of your living room, has 20 or so people, a set of drums, a couple of guitars, a keyboard, a pair of gigantic speakers, and the volume turned up to the max. And for about an hour, a sorry “worship” team plays as if they’re in a coliseum with thousands of people, singing mindless, theologically empty 7-11 songs (7 words repeated 11 times). After a while, I want to scream, like the detainees, “ENOUGH! I’M LOSING MY MIND!”

In the 60s and 70s, contemporary “Christian” music started with pop and soft rock. Now, Christianpost.com reports, “The younger generation of Christians is embracing music with a harder edge,” preferring Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, Relient K and Flyleaf over Switchfoot and Rebecca St. James. I’m not familiar with these groups, but certain that their kind of music is commonly sung in many churches. And it would get worse – today’s punk rock would be tomorrow’s soft rock.

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