Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"The Challenge" Day 16: On not saying "Christian"

What's the K-LOVE Challenge? Why am I doing it? Check out Day 1 for some explanation...

So here's an interesting tidbit: K-LOVE doesn't really describe itself as Christian, at least not often.

The word is almost never mentioned on air.

At this moment, if you search the homepage for the word Christian, you get one hit, and its in reference to a particular artist.

Click on "About Us" and do the same search, and you again come up with only one hit.

I'm fascinated by this. Why the avoidance of the word Christian?

It's not as if the Christian content of the music is subtle or anything. And you can certainly click on their "Mission, Beliefs, and Values" to discover not only a vague Christian affiliation but a traditional/conservative (depending where you stand) theological bent (Bible as infallible, God as Trinity, virgin birth).

I'm actually kind of stumped by this. Is the word "Christian" associated with stuffy religious folks and K-LOVE wants to be cooler than that? Does "Christian radio" conjure up more of a TBN/Christian TV sort of feel, with more talking/sermons/overtly politicized discourse?

The local DC station that I'm listening to (since there's no K-LOVE station in DC) talks a lot about introducing people to God through their music, people who would be uncomfortable in a church setting. I know a lot of folks who are uncomfortable in church settings, but I don't know that many of them would be any more comfortable with CCM on the radio.

I will say this, though. An interesting--and I think positive--side effect of this downplaying of the word "Christian" is that I don't tend to feel like K-LOVE thinks of itself as the only Christian voice out there. That's important because it speaks to a lot of the concerns that I've raised. For example, I often feel like there's little room for lament in CCM. But maybe it's ok to have a station that's full of "positive and encouraging" music, as long as there are other spaces for lament. Maybe K-LOVE doesn't have to do all things.

I'd love to talk to some of the DJs to find out what they think about that. Do they think that "positive and encouraging" encompasses the totality of faith? Or do they see themselves as fulfilling a particular role, with other spaces being open for lament, anger, doubt, and/or silence? Is K-LOVE a symptom of a Christian culture that's afraid to break down? Or is it a space to escape from the break downs?

I don't know, what do you all think? Why avoid the word "Christian" but play overtly Christian music?


Currently playing on "Your Love Never Fails" by Newsboys [who I am not-so-secretly-delighted are still a thing]

1 comment:

  1. I wonder what role marketing plays into this question. It does seem intentional, and I would be surprised if market research played a factor in not using the word Christian even though a quick glance at the website or listen to the lyrics of any song are dead giveaway that it is Christian. I know this is cynical, but I doubt there is a theological reason for avoiding the use of the word Christian.