Jesus Freaks, then and now

Tin soldiers and Nixon comingth-3
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio
– Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970)

Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight
Gonna grab some afternoon delight
– Starlight Vocal Band (1976)

I’ve had the worst pop song in decades stuck in my mind for two days now. Chandler and I were shopping for some school clothes when I realized I was getting annoyed, but I didn’t know why. Then I realized they were playing music from the 70s, but not the early 70s; this was all the late 70s. This was the birth of disco. And when “Afternoon Delight” came on I should have screamed and run out of the place. That’s the thing about these era-related pop music stations. Just because something was popular once doesn’t mean it should be remembered. Some hits were awful. Why can’t we admit that?

How did we get from “Four Dead in Ohio” to “Afternoon Delight” in six short years? When we say “70s music” we should clarify. We mean early 70s music. Forget everything after 1975. It’s clear that to be a meaningful generation we needed a war to protest. We needed somebody’s civil rights to fight for. We needed a cause. We needed somebody assassinated. Abraham, Martin, John and Bobby went over the hill but nobody ever came back, except the Starlight Vocal Band singing about rubbing sticks and stones together in the afternoon. Save us, please. Was there really nothing more to live for in 1976 than afternoon sex? Apparently not. Not that there’s anything wrong with afternoon sex, just don’t give me an a cappella song about it and assault me with it in a store forty years later. Someone should go over all the oldies and just admit we made a bad choice on some of this stuff the first time. Why make it again?

I think I’ll forever be a radical. Faith has to have an edge. Status quo is the enemy of real faith. Radical means true to the root and the root of Christianity is Jesus. It will always be all about Jesus. Jesus Freaks were not just forty years ago. Jesus Freaks are now. I will always be a Jesus Freak. Just try telling me I talk too much about Jesus; I will thank you for the complement. Jesus then, Jesus now, Jesus forever.

And then let’s start asking questions again. Jesus is the answer but there are a ton of questions, and we should be familiar with as many of them as we can, especially the more popular ones. Resist the stupid thinking that if you have the right answer in Jesus, you don’t have to know anything about the questions. At that point, Jesus becomes a bobblehead in the back of your car nodding the answer over and over again. The question is of utmost importance to communication. It also broadens one’s faith to see just how Jesus is the answer. We grow in our understanding and worship of Him to follow this process. But most importantly, we connect with our culture over the questions. We show that we’re listening and that we care.

[Note: I provided a YouTube link for the CSN&Y song (click on picture), but I chose not to torture you with even suggesting you listen to Afternoon Delight. Of course no one can stop you, just don’t come running to me when you wake up three days from now with it still playing in your head.]


And finally, thanks for everyone yesterday who took us over the top in our fundraising goal!

George, Vancouver, Washington
Herb, Blue Mountain, Mississippi
Jo, Milford, Iowa
Arthur, Arlington, Virginia
Jan, Fayetteville, Pennsylvania
David, Chanhassen, Minnesota
David, Liberty Lake, Washington
Bob, Venetia, Pennsylvania
Timothy, Arlington Hts, Illinois
Jen, Reading, Pennsylvania
Linda, Rugby, Warwickshire, United Kingdom

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5 Responses to Jesus Freaks, then and now

  1. John, I left a lengthier response on your live video from this morning but the essence of it is this:

    Songs with messages were (and are) important as beacons of awareness, hope, and continuity during times of crises such as the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War era, the turbulent ’60’s, and other high-tension periods before and since.

    Afterwards, though, when the conflicts or seasons of tension pass, people don’t want necessarily to be “preached to” – they just want to sing and dance to “whimsical” music without wondering about messages in lyrics. (Perhaps it’s a way to celebrate the end of a dismal period of history and to blow off steam without having to think too deeply about it.)

    Whether it’s music you or I enjoy or not, it’s still a gift from God.
    I have no real affinity for music from some other parts of the world and may find some of it “confusing” to my senses, but it does serve a useful purpose to whom it relates.
    It is a gift from God.
    You and I may not feel we should pay attention to – what we would term as – nonsensical songs or “meaningless” music but such tunes have always been around and, I believe, always serve a purpose (even when misinterpreted or even mishandled).
    It is a gift from God.

    So, with that being said, I’ll “challenge” your ears with one of my fav’s:
    The Doobie Brothers singing “Jesus is Alright” from 1975’s Soul Train… 🙂

  2. Markus says:

    I always had the feeling that edgy music is always a nice establish a new trend, but the long term money is always in the easy listening stuff. This is mostly true for pop music, but you get that in Rock and Metal as well. One edgy “credibility track” to establish the band and then loads of meaningless easy listening stuff. This is not to say that I believe that there is anything wrong with easy listening songs, or a ballads here and there, but where is the fun when that is all you listen to? But then, most people prefer to tone it down as it seems, they prefer to sacrifice fun for comfort.
    In a way I see many parallels to Christianity there where many prefer rules over true freedom. You get saved, you no longer sin, you do this, you do that and you get to enjoy the company of fellow Christians that are just as perfect followers of Christ as you are. Okay, the latter is true (though in a different way), but the rest is self-deceit for the sake of comfort. This kind of Christianity diffuses Jesus’ message for those who adhere to this particular brand of faith. For them Jesus’ message is comfortable, but it is not edgy anymore, not for them at least. That is *my* impression at least.

    Anyway, I’m off to listen to some edgy late 70s music. Rainbow, Kill the King. 😉

    Just one last thing. I am glad that you met your goal! Also, happy belated birthday to Marty!

  3. Marc says:

    It seems that the 70’s was a vast musical wasteland which began with the breakup of the Beatles and ended with the sappy songs of disco. With few exceptions like Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkel. A song of hope for a hopeless people. But mostly, it’s songs like this:

    How do you do? Uh-huh, nananananananana…Hey, that’s what we’re living for! That’s what most of the 70’s had. And you’re right. Jesus is the answer like Andre Crouch sang, but that doesn’t mean the questions end. That’s what Francis Schaeffer lamented about when he said young Christians came to him at L’abri saying “You’re our last hope.” People were saying to them “Don’t ask questions, just believe.” And then wondered why people were leaving the church. And most Christians were withdrawing into their own “Bubble Creek Canyon,” as this satirical video points out:

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