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.

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

  • December 12, 2008 at 1:15 am
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    My point is worship music can be deceiving. You go to Saddleback church…Rick Warren.. and it’s a beautiful worship music they are playing…then he preaches the purpose driven..and you know how it goes. You go  Lakewood church in Texas…it’s a beautiful chorus..then Joel  will preach..and you know how it goes..you go to Crystal Cathedral. it’s a beautiful chorus..then  Robert Schuller will preach…and you know how it goes too.  I rather go to a church and listen and whorship with a band but when it’s time to hear the word of God….it’s the word of God that I’m hearing.

  • December 11, 2008 at 9:03 am
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    Adoration of the Golden Calf by Filippino LippiThere is an eerie resemblance between Rick Pino’s abomination videos and this medieval painting of the golden calf “worship” by Filippino Lippi, with both assemblies rising up “to play” to the “noise of war music.”

    Raul, thanks for coming back. I agree that it boils down to what a church believes, and the preaching is primary. But worship is also not a matter of whether we like it or not, but what God wants:

    22 But you have come to e Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…

    28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:22-24, 28-29).

    Worship is to be acceptable to God, and both joyful and reverent: “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” (Psa 96:9) Worship in splendor and trembling! But joyful doesn’t mean rocking to the ceiling and music for the insane and hard of hearing: “Serve [worship] the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psa 2:11).

  • December 11, 2008 at 7:25 am
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    I watched the video and I agree, that is so way out of this world. But I don’t think the rock music is the problem. It’s what the Preacher or Pastor is preaching. I have been attending Calvary Chapel  and Harvest Christian Fellowship here in California and proud to say that our Pastors are preaching the word of God……not prosperity, not positive mental attitude and not religion either. Pastor Raul Ries and Greg Laurie respectively. Harvest Crusade here in California draws hundreds of thousands every year…and yes some of the music is rock. Some people like it, some don’t.

  • December 11, 2008 at 6:41 am
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    drewB sent this to Riddleblog. I suspect this is not a rarity:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYrKgrkIrg8

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=6903012

    This is what music can do to people. If this is not an abomination before God – like Israel and the golden calf – I don’t know what is.

    In Exodus 32:6, after Aaron built the golden calf for them, “the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” The term “rose up to play” has sexual overtones, meaning that their “worship” was as the pagans did – combined with sensuality, maybe even orgies offered to the Egyptian fertility bull-god Apis. When Moses and Joshua came down from the mountain, Joshua heard the “noise of war in the camp.” Don’t we hear “the noise of war” in hard rock? But Moses told Joshua it’s not that, but “the sound of singing that I hear” (Exod 32:17-18).

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  • December 11, 2008 at 5:05 am
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    Hi, Melissa. I’d love to be there. I was a member of church choirs for most of my adult life, and we had an annual Christmas concert always ending in the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

    I would think that anyone subjected to blaring music – whether it’s Barney or Nine Inch Nails or Handel – for 16-20 hours straight would go crazy. But just 30 minutes of preschool level “Celebrate, Jesus, Celebrate!” would do it.

  • December 10, 2008 at 10:48 pm
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    Well, I am happy to report then that Third Presbyterian’s Christmas concert will consist of Part 1 of Handel’s Messiah, sung by the sanctuary choir and accompanied by a chamber orchestra. Should anyone happen to be in the Richmond, VA area, you are invited to join us this coming Sunday, Dec. 14th at 4pm in the sanctuary for sensible Baroque music and perhaps a few traditional Christmas carols.

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