Dec 01 2011
On Being Too Secular. Or Too Christian. Or Whatever.

When you work in public, you get lots of input.  And you better like it.  Shoot, roadside construction workers get input from passers-by.  ("You guys taking another break?")  It's the nature of the biz.

I occasionally hear I'm "too secular".  A legit point, well-made, and sometimes gracefully put.  I love getting feedback.  But it's a good chance to explain something, so that - even if you think I'm messed-up - you'll know where I'm coming from.  It's always good to have your suspicions confirmed ("Now, I know this guy's messed up...")

I don't believe in a line between sacred and secular.

A tree isn't "secular."  A car isn't "secular."  And, while most agree my accordion will not be in heaven, it isn't "secular", either.

There are Christians in the music business, and not just in the "Christian Music Business."  Some of the best "Christian Musicians" will never win Dove Awards.  They play bass trombone for the Boston Symphony (Douglas Yeo) or principal trumpet for the NY Philharmonic (Phil Smith) or sing mezzo soprano for the Metropolitan Opera, like Wendy White.  They're not "secular."  They're gifted by God as artists, participating in His creativity, Soli Deo Gloria.

And your job?  Your computer isn't secular.  If you mop a floor at work, you're not mopping a secular floor.  If you're mowing grass, you're not mowing secular grass.

It's God's grass, man.

And Jesus didn't change water into secular wine.

You can now buy Christian-marketed pants.  Does that mean my current pants are secular?  Have the Christian pants truly repented?  And what can be done to reach my pants for Christ?

Is Left Behind a secular book series because it's sold in secular bookstores?  Is Relient K a Christian band, or, if MTV likes them, do they lose the "Christian" label?  What about The Fray?  What about U2?  You say "no" to U2?  Okay, what about Mercy Me, who covers U2 songs?  Or Sanctus Real, who covers U2 songs?  Or Michael W. Smith, who covers - you know - U2 songs?  (And Chris Tomlin's song, "Where the Streets Have No Name"...? You better sit down.)

What if an album is recorded in digital by a secular producer, with a secular studio bass player, mixed in analog by a Christian, and then mastered by an agnostic, printed by a Christian-owned-CD manufacturer, and distributed by Sony, before being played on Christian radio stations?  What then?

My head hurts.  Good thing we really don't have to keep track, huh?

I believe the Kingdom of God is here, and the King wants everything.  All truth is God's truth, which means we can be unafraid of finding it, as we do, all over the place.  And we find it in unlikely places.  "Secular" scientists can find it.  And so can - you know - smelly animals:

“I had a professor one time... He said, 'Class, you will forget almost everything I will teach you in here, so please remember this: that God spoke to Balaam through his ass, and He has been speaking through asses ever since. So, if God should choose to speak through you, you need not think too highly of yourself. And, if on meeting someone, right away you recognize what they are, listen to them anyway'.”
― Rich Mullins

And, oh yes, your favorite Approved Christian Publishers (TM) and Christian Radio Personalities (TM) can miss it.

So, if you hear me talking about what you consider "secular" news stories, or secular TV shows, or secular hot dogs you can have sent by mail, well, just know what my problem is:  I don't see the world that way.  I used to.  I don't anymore.

God's grace, His beauty, His truth, His obvious HUMOR -- it's everywhere.  The whole earth is filled with His glory.

Can our culture misuse it, abuse it, discolor it?  Oh, sure.

For now.

But, like Mike Yaconelli said:  Our purpose isn't to condemn the culture, it's to redeem it.