Within the Christian artistic community, there is a common belief/desire that, as Christians, we should be at the forefront of the arts. Several hundred years ago, this was the case. The best music, painting, sculpture, etc. was all done for the church.
This is a fact that is both celebrated and lamented by many Christian artists. Celebrated because we believe that’s the way it should be (after all, we are in relationship with the greatest creator of all and have ceaseless inspiration to draw upon), and lamented because this is definitely not the way it is anymore.
Personally, I don’t believe that is the way it should be, but that is a discussion for another time. If however, I believed that was how the Christian artistic community should be, the question becomes “what would that look like?”.
I think that it would look like “Stockholm Syndrome” by Derek Webb.
I think one of the things that has frustrated me about “Christian music” is how little the songs (generally speaking, of course) talk about, describe, or ponder life outside of our dogmatic ideas about God. As one reviewer wrote about the “Christian music” scene,
“…(they presume) that we listen to music out of a need to hear our theological ideas reiterated endlessly…”
I want to see God in art, not just hear about him from art. I want questions without the answers given to me by the time I hit the bridge. I want an artist whose songs don’t leave me with the impression that they are far more “spiritually minded” than I am because, if their songs are any indication, they spend every moment of everyday thinking only about God.
In other words, I want art and songs about life.
That’s what I love about this album. It is full of songs that are about how we live and about politics and about all kinds of things that Derek Webb cares about, and all the things that he believes in (or wants to believe in). In other words, songs about life.
The very reason we have a Christian music subculture is because we have Christian artists who are writing songs and saying stuff that is of no interest to people who don’t share the Christian belief. This is why the Church isn’t leading the way in the arts; it is far too exclusive and inward focused to be of inspiration to those outside of the church walls.
Derek Webb has written an album that does not try to mask the faith or Christian worldview that informs it, but its language and writing doesn’t require you to share in the Christian worldview (or the Christian “language”) in order to join in on the conversation. It is an album for anyone and everyone.
Taking its name from the psychological phenomenon where hostages begin to sympathize with, and have positive feelings towards their captors, Stockholm Syndrome is an album that explores the relationship between the Church and the world – specifically the American world.
I will avoid going into any specifics (for I have rambled on too long as it is), but let me sign off by saying it is an album that is both, immensely interesting and wholly challenging both musically and lyrically. I suggest you check it out.
If you are reading this as a note on facebook, may I recommend you visit www.shawnbaran.blogspot.com for the full service version? Some things will make more sense if you do.