Musical Influence

A Bad Week

As previously hinted at in my post concerning NieR: Automata, shortly after I wrote the post about the switch from video games to books, I was confronted with information that was rather unfortunate. The timing of it all is something that serves as absolute proof to me that God knows eternity and he pieces absolutely every little thing together for the greater good. However, my reaction to said information could have been more Spiritually strategic.

Rather than turning to my Heavenly Father and asking him to relieve me of the mental conflict that was aroused at the time, I turn back to spiritually-opposed music stations. I’m afraid that the information I received and the conflict that arose will remain with me but nonetheless, I began to turn back to loud music that is not centered on God’s all-saving grace or His love or the splendor of His Majesty in the slightest. When I think about it critically, the kind of music I listen to seems to have effect on how I spend spare time. Moreover, when I once again turned to pagan music, I also began participating in pagan activities such as video games.1 The purpose of this post is so that I can express my uneducated guess as to how music affects me and what I do.

My “Classic Study” Playlist

In “Am I Really Me?”, I wrote a footnote in which I revealed that my usual playlist (entitled, “I’m Rocking Out”) was replaced by my “Classic Study” playlist. Although not as interesting as the other changes in my life at the time, it was still peculiar that even my taste in music had changed. As you can probably decipher, these two playlists are significantly different.

My “Classic Study” playlist is filled with calm music that is usually (but not limited or restricted to) piano melodies. When I listen to the music in this playlist, I can hear the music and simply lay back, calm down, chill out. I can think. I can “study”. This type of music usually encourages a healthy spiritual life as it influences me to either lay back and open up a book that really catches my attention or sit down and type away at a paper I can really pour myself into. However, within just a few short weeks, something happened that made me want to turn to my other playlist.

“The Grass is Always Greener…”

My “I’m Rocking Out” playlist is filled with music that is usually (but not limited or restricted to) digital or electronic.2 There’s music in there played by Green Day, The All-American Rejects and various other bands but more recently, I find that when I’m not listening to the music I should be listening to, I really have a taste for electronic dance music. More than anything else, I listen to this playlist when I’m angry at God whether it be because of adversity or simply something that could’ve gone better.

He’s only the Creator of the universe. I can cut Him out of my life by focusing on vulgar music, video games and spending time on my computer. “Where were You, God? Why would You let this happen? Fine! If You’re not going to protect me from adversity or change my desires and act like You don’t care for me, why should I care about You?” That’s usually why I start listening to my “I’m Rocking Out” playlist but after a while the electronic beats from songs by Skrillex or Alan Walker become so attractive, I can’t stop thinking about the beats!

Sometimes, when I’m at work or making lunch, I’ll start thinking about a tune. There are a few songs that aren’t bad per se, like “Alone” by Marshmello, “Bumblebee” by Zedd or “Wow” by Tiësto which (virtually) don’t have lyrics but that’s where it starts! Then, I’ll start thinking of “innocent” songs, like Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk, “Waiting for Love” by Avicii or “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers. That’s when sin creeps in and says, “all that music is in your playlist! Why not turn it on and listen to a few songs? …and if ‘Darkside‘ by Alan Walker, ‘Kill Everybody‘ by Skrillex or [literally, no joke] ‘Dancing with the Devil‘ by Krewella plays, they have pretty funky fresh beats too; you can skip them but you don’t have to.”

Even when I want to return to God, this kind of music still plays in my head! Not only that but when I listen to songs by Daft Punk, Skrillex, or Marshmello, they seem to increase the time I spend with video games and other activities that only work to distance my relationship with the Lord. Honestly, when I listen to electronic music, it kind of reminds of a time before I knew Christ.

I started growing my relationship with our Lord and Savior shortly after I left Shasta Bible College. Before then, I was very familiar with the computer3 as a result of the 2010 “accident”, I played a lot of video games and [yes, even at college, I] listened to a lot of music that was not the most spiritual. In response to hearing the music, I am reminded of my “nominal” self and convince myself that if I still listen to the kind of music filled with bass drops and swear words, I can wander even further onto the computer or into a few of my favorite video games. Although, I do in fact have a third playlist that is filled with Worship music4.

My “Worship” Playlist

Lastly, my “Worship” playlist is filled with music that I really should be listening to. Music like “We are the Free” by Matt Redman5, “Sound of the Saints” by Audio Adrenaline, or “That’s How You Change the World” by Newsboys. My “Worship” playlist actually has a higher song count than my “Rocking Out” playlist. Unfortunately though, I must admit that I don’t listen to my worship playlist as much I do my “Rocking Out” playlist.

My “Worship” playlist is more of a mix of genres. I made my worship playlist with Christian Rock songs from Skillet or Newsboys to mix in with Hymns and Christian Classics like “Be Thou My Vision” by BYU Noteworthy6, “Trust and Obey” by Chelsea Moon or “Forever” by Chris Tomlin. I did this on purpose so that whether I’m feeling like I want to “rock out” or I actually feel like worshiping God through music, I can always listen to this playlist. Although, it really makes this playlist more of the “middle ground” and does not make for a good mix.

Actually, when I really want to rock out, I actually listen to the other playlist and skip over the songs by Skillet. Yes, there are songs by Skillet in both my “I’m Rocking Out” playlist and my “Worship” playlist. There’s no doubt Skillet refers to Christian Evangelism in “One Day Too Late” or refer to the sinful nature in “Monster” or worship God’s majesty in “Stars“. It’s songs like “Feel Invincible” or “Out of Hell” that really remind me that they are a hard-rock band but when I’m in the mood to rock out, I probably won’t want to hear the kind of messages they offer.

Really, when I added their songs to my “I’m Rocking Out” playlist, I actually remember thinking, “I’ll add these songs so as to press the idea of what kind of music I should be listening to into my head while I try to wander.” Good strategy, huh? Honestly, I’ll hardly ever listen to Christian music anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for singing a few Christian classics or hymns before a sermon but more recently, I’ll either want to rock out or study. There isn’t really an in-between.

There’s really no excuse for that. When I’m participating in an activity that doesn’t require my immediate attention, like folding clothes or making lunch, I should want to play Worship music. Really, it should be that I’d want to listen to Spiritual music rather than that which immediately contrasts with it. Considering this, I’m reminded of a few lessons that were taught on the type of music I listen to.

A Lesson or Two from Church

When I was in high school, a young bachelor named Nick Stewart taught a lesson on the kind of music we listen to. I remember that he went around the room asking everyone what their favorite type of music was, what their favorite song was and I remember that we listened to “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles. After the song, Nick personally asked us what we all thought of the song. I let him know that I honestly didn’t find the song too appealing.7 I honestly don’t remember too much after the song.

I only remember him asking us if we sometimes use music as a crutch. It was a weird thought. I had never thought of music as something to turn to when I was let down or upset but it was something I honestly did. I remember commenting that it was maybe something used as “an invisible crutch” because I personally never acknowledged or recognized that I was using music to that effect. Perhaps the end of that lesson was something relating to the theme that the Lord should be our Mighty Fortress that we return to in distress instead of music but you’d think it had to be something relating to the effect music has on personality.

While considering the affect music has on my personality, I approached my pastor concerning the topic. I revealed to him the kind of music I was listening to and the subsequent behavior that appears to result from it. He pointed to Philippians 4:8 and taught that there are people who can listen to electronic music and be completely unaffected by it. However, when it starts to pull my attention from God, that’s where I need to draw the line.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Philipians 4:8.

It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that sometimes the evil things of this world (that is, absolutely anything that draws me away from my Walk) can look or sound much more attractive than what I think would result from following Christ.
…even if, in the long-term, I know better.

Footnotes

1 My revived affection for video games allowed me to make the post about my thoughts toward the scene in NieR: Automata.
2 As is seen on the left side of the featured image (which I am extremely satisfied with, by the way)
3 Not to say that I’m not familiar with the computer anymore.
4 As is seen on the right side of the featured image.
5 There are actually many other artists I wanted to put into the featured image but were lower priority as I don’t listen to them as an artist enough; the artists in the featured image are only those who I listen to regularly.
6 My favorite hymns of all time are “Be Thou My Vision” and “Come Thou Fount”.
7 Fight me.

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