This year, 2018, ABC brought back the music competition Fox had set aside, and I found myself glad that it was back. The judges this year are Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and then Katy Perry. Katy is the flashiest of the three. She is funny and genuinely interested in the contestants, and as I watch her engage the fledgling singers week after week, I am intrigued.
The questions that roil my mind center on the dynamic between her and God. “Didn’t she grow up in church? Isn’t her dad a pastor?” I know those answers; yes and yes. I can recall bits and pieces of Perry’s music and performance videos, and the flavors imprinted on my mind do not jive with things pure, lovely, admirable, etc., etc. Artistic? Yes. Godly? No.
During my weekly doses of American Idol, there has been a steady diet of Katy Perry. From the vantage point of her own experience, she gives good advice to many of the hopefuls. I see professionalism in that, a genuine interest. While part of her comments and style is for a show, it is not all a facade.
After watching Katy critique week in and week out, I wanted to see her skill set. So, I opened my Amazon Prime music player and searched for Katy Perry. Well, guess what? The first album that pops up is a craftily positioned, naked Katie Perry laying on some fluffy pink thing. That was all the reminder I needed. When I listened to Jay-Z’s music while preparing a lesson in Revelation and writing an entry here on Danielle Steel, I at least got to 30 seconds of his music. I did not play any of her music. Enough seen.
The final culling of contestants to the 14 that will face America’s vote paired the candidates with music celebrities. I had not heard of many of them, but one that stood out was Bebe Rexha. During her duets she was modestly clothed, makeup was amazingly perfect, and like Katy Perry, she was engaged and interested. She gave good advice and understood music technique and the industry.
So, off to Amazon Prime, I went. Let me look up this Bebe Rexha singer and learn more about her. The first images that I saw were modest, at least. She was paired, however, with hip-hop artists, and I was disheartened. I think I may have looked up some of her lyrics. I don’t recall. I do know that I put my mind in reverse backing away from engaging her songs.
I mentioned this search I did on Bebe Rexha at dinner a night or so later. My 17-year-old echoed the sentiment I had gained. She did not imply regular listening to Rexha’s music but being closer to and more privy to its shape and inclination than I was.
Now the Bible
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5–ESV)
Katy and Bebe’s admixture of good traits with ungodly artistry contrasts with the character of God. John reporting on God’s nature indicated that he is light. He has no dark side.
The excellence of Katy and Bebe springs from their ability to critique style, voice inflection, personal confidence, and do so constructively. The dark side begins to creep in when they encourage enticing body language, culturally progressive viewpoints, and lead young singers toward what the world wants. They know what works, what the competitors want and coach-shove them in that direction.
What do you think would happen if a spiritual referee arrived on the scene? As soon as such a referee revealed motivations, sin-concepts, life and artistry choices the positives like smiles, genuine interest, and helpfulness of the Katys and the Bebes would peal away. A discussion on sin and righteousness would rapidly unveil a misalignment with God’s viewpoint. They might grant it, but do so with caveats, e.g., it is ok for some, but not others.
When God wraps up his world where will these musicians and those like them line up? Will they be with those who march toward Armageddon to fight the Lamb? Will they be with the Lamb? More importantly, where will you and I be?
When I watch American Idol, I like the beauty of sound. The favorable environment and opportunity for budding musicians is fun to watch. Darkening and complicating my pleasure is an awareness of the contrast between hopes and the character of God.
Dealing with darkness
There is this verse in the Bible that goes something like this: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. God has no darkness within him; no so with every person. I have written about the public lives of Katy Perry and Bebe Rexha. With God as the standard of good and evil, these women have displayed behaviors and convictions which are a melange. Neither is wholly one way or the other, evil or good. They have darkness and light all swirled together.
The crucial thing that I want to close with is that you and I have far more in common with these women than with God. The trait of darkness/evil is intrinsic to our natures. God sent Jesus with the remedy, but not all are keen on it. Even those who have accepted the solution for sin, however, are not perfect but stumble day-in and day-out. The verses of 1 John that stretch beyond the one I quoted above alternate between false and true ways of looking at self and Jesus’ sin solution.