A few days ago I saw a piece over on Hemant Mehta's blog that really caught my interest. It was an Ask Richard, which is when people write in to Richard Wade to ask his advice on various interpersonal relationships (how to come out as an atheist to their family, interacting with a Christian best friend, etc.). I rarely skip those posts because I find Richard's advice to generally be really good and beneficial.
Anyway, on Monday he received a message from a musician who spent time writing for various Christian artists and who is apparently well-known for that work who is secretly an atheist. I would recommend reading through the whole letter and Richard's response. Basically the artist is concerned that if he is honest about who he is, even though he no longer performs Christian music, he will lose his fan base and his income. But by remaining closeted, he is living a lie and that is frustrating to him. Richard pretty much tells him to chill out and know that the people who are complimenting him are just using the language that they have available to them. He also talks about how for a number of people all through the ages, art has been a job for many, not necessarily an outpouring of religious conviction.
The post got me thinking about other Christian artists that have been thrown under the bus because they weren't good enough to make Christian music any more. They had an affair or they got divorced or they announced they were gay and all of a sudden, their whole life's work has no value. I find that disappointing. I've had deeply spiritual moments from things that have no illusions of Christianity -- why should something Christian that was written or performed by a "sinner" no longer move me?
Why do we do that? We talk about forgiveness and grace and love, but those are harder to practice than to talk about. It's easy for me to talk about forgiveness, but when someone has really hurt me, I have a tendency to hold onto that hurt for a long time. I can talk about grace, but if someone does something wrong, I find myself wanting them to experience some kind of justice (even if it doesn't really have anything to do with actual justice and is more like revenge). I can talk about love, but sometimes I'll just couch my hatred in terms of "tough love" and pretend that I'm being loving while indulging my dark side.
I do understand not wanting to financially support something that you don't support morally or ethically. I really do! But I do find it a little more difficult to understand no longer being moved by something that has moved us in the past because the person isn't quite what we thought. And while I want to be careful with my money, I want to be even more careful that I live out things like forgiveness, grace & love in my daily life.
Do you think you could enjoy a Christian song if you found out that it was written by an atheist? Have you ever pretended that you were taking the moral high ground when you were really just giving in to something less righteous (tell me I'm not alone, please!)?