While I was in North Carolina, I had a conversation with a musician. We’ll call him Alex.
Alex loves music and has played in bands up until he got married and had children. After that point the challenge of coordinating schedules to bang around in a basement with besties is tougher and tougher.
One of the best ways to fill that hole that playing music once had is to join a church band. If you’re in an evangelical protestant church in America, you must have a full on band: keys, base, drums, guitars and vocalists.
Alex went that route. It’s family friendly. It’s something a person can justify in the rat race of child rearing. It’s organized. And chances are, if the church is big enough, the band is a paid gig. Win win? More like lose lose.
As Alex and others will attest, the church music sucks creativity dry. Alex was on stage one Sunday morning and realized, “Playing this kind of music is crushing my creativity.”
So he started the conversation with other musicians whom he used to play out with back in the heyday of his music career, which by certain measures, wasn’t mainstream success. But locally, he was associated with bands who were popular and playing good gigs in the area.
One guy who used to play in a band that I had not heard of, but apparently, is well known for his era, also plays for a large church band. And he, too, validated Alex’s point of the church sucks your creativity dry. The music is simplistic. Vanilla. Predictable. It’s focused on a group dynamic, rather than individualistic.
I’ve written about this over the years. The church does not inspire creativity. And although the church claims responsibility for some of the greatest masterpieces of all time in many genres of art, that doesn’t mean the church itself inspires all creativity. Just because it singled out large artists at their pinnacle performance levels, the church wasn’t prepared for what was to come of more and more people pursuing art as a career, rather than say, farming.
When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, there was nothing worse than Christian music. Christian art in general suffered great casualties of people who dabbled in art who would otherwise not make it. And no matter what artist brought some music to the table, secular music always upstaged it.
Secularism, whatever that is, was the land of success. Staying within the confines of the church was crushing me as a wannabe artist. Being stifled is mind damaging.
Which became one more reason to walk away from the church. It’s really quite simple.
It’s on trend, though. The church sucks dry most things worth a damn. I’d argue it sucks the soul dry. It sucks good conversation dry. It sucks morality dry. It sucks individualism, innovation, and expressiveness dry. In the mind of an artist, it creates too much circular reasoning to allow it to explore. Instead of focusing on imagining that there’s some being out there who’s trying to communicate with you via an old book or through symbols and signs, it frees that association and lets concentration focus on expression.