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I read some interesting articles today. Two of them were about affairs.

The first one was a really interesting article in the San Jose Mercury about Mayor Ron Gonzales’ affair and its implications and aftermath. It’s really quite sad, and it seems to me that for now, his political career is over. Seriously, it’s just shocking what he’s done.

I’ll never fully understand affairs, I think. Especially among men in power with so much to lose. It just doesn’t make sense to me, since power is so important to them, they don’t get where they are without deliberately seeking power, how they could be so careless in wanting to throw it away. That’s the power of temptation, I guess, and I shouldn’t underestimate it.

But yeah, the article was pretty interesting to me, and I’m very interested to see what happens in San Jose politics in the next few months. It could be exciting.

Another article was about a prominent figure in a prominent Christian group who abruptly resigned because he had an affair.

I don’t know, that was really sad to me. Here’s what’s sadder to me. In my mind, I wasn’t that worried about how it would appear to the world. Because, it’s sad, but the world is used to that by now – hypocritical Christians. It’s cynical, but I don’t think the world hearing that some Christian leader had an affair is going to shock them anymore. They’ve gotten desensitized to stuff like that. My guess is to the world, it’s just one more example of Christian hypocrisy. No big deal.

The other thing is, again it’s cynical, but I really think that to the world, this Christian group, like many Christian groups, doesn’t make much of a difference or even have a good reputation. I don’t mean to slam this group. In fact, the leader of the group (not the guy who resigned) is one of my few heroes, a guy I really like a lot. But, I really think their ministry is geared towards Christians, not non-Christians. There’s nothing wrong with that and no apology needs to be made for it – there’s a good place for it. It’s just, if the intention was to engage the world (I don’t think it is, but if) I’d say it’s a failure.

Just, the group is not portrayed in the secular media in a particularly positive light. Most people in the world have a negative reaction to it, I’d say. A friend of mine worked in the city it’s based in a few summers ago, and there were bumper stickers on some of the cars saying “Focus on your own *%#! family.” Seriously, the world hates it. But like I said, that doesn’t make it bad. I just think it’s a ministry for Christians, not one that effectively engages the world.

But, this is really negative. Let me write about something positive I read. It was an article in Guitar World, probably the most popular monthly guitar magazine, or close to it. It had a really great article on Christian music. Not CCM, more the hardcore stuff. I highly recommend you read this article – you can probably find it at any bookstore.

But it was incredibly encouraging to me. It’s a secular magazine (Kirk Hammett of Metallica writes a regular column, and having just seen a Metallica concert DVD, we know how very not Christian Metallica is), but it was a very positive article. I was very surprised. I’ve read other articles in secular magazines about Christian music and they are by and large negative. They tend to criticize the shallowness of Christian music, the superficiality of it, and the hypocrisy in it. But this article was extremely positive. It was very fair and surprisingly in depth.

The article focused on the efforts of recent hardcore bands that have been making crossroads in the secular music world. Not bands like MxPx and Creed that have Christian members but are adamant in saying they’re not a Christian band. These are mentioned, but the focus is on overtly Christian bands like P.O.D. and Tourniquet. Especially P.O.D., because of their recent success.

Umm, maybe you don’t know P.O.D. But, they’re this hard rap-rock band out of San Diego. They have an album on Atlantic that’s gone gold. Their video Rock The Party is consistently on MTV’s Total Request Live. And they played this summer in Ozzfest, with bands like Ozzy Osbourne and Pantera and other pretty much Satanic groups. So, they’ve made a lot of inroads in the secular world.

I can’t express how encouraged I was by them. They don’t preach from the stage, like Christian rock bands past such as Petra and Stryper. Instead, they just play their music and hope that their joy and hope will shine through, that it will somehow be a light.

Maybe that sounds naive or you think they’re selling out. I know some people are all cynical of all these “Christian” hard rock bands. But, I was very impressed by their integrity, and the author of the article was clearly impressed as well. I think he was most impressed that they didn’t feel like they needed to sell Christianity, or sell the product of Christianity, something that’s turned off non-Christians to Christian bands in the past. Instead, they just maintain their integrity.

And, you can doubt that they’ll possibly make a difference if they don’t preach from the stage. But, read the article. Like I said, it’s clear that they impressed the writer, and that tone dominates the article. He begins with a story of P.O.D. at a concert where a guy got injured. It could have been like the Pearl Jam incident in Europe, mass chaos. But the lead singer of P.O.D. somehow got the crowd to be silent for 40 minutes, just praying (it was a Christian music festival). People would shout for updates, but he wouldn’t engage in speculative rumor mongering. He’d just say, “God knows what needs to happen. Just pray.” And when the paramedics came, he organized the crowd in moving to get them access quickly. From all accounts, they did a fantastic job. It turned out that the guy had temporary paralysis from a pinched nerve. And the article even alludes to the fact that it might have been a miracle. It was such a great story, one that highlighted how their way was better than what happened in the secular world.

To me at least it’s really encouraging that this kind of story is in a well known secular magazine. The impression you get is that these bands are sincere, not wanting to push a product on you, just good people, producing good music. And it makes you interested in them. That’s a good thing. It even includes a list of Christian music web sites. Who knows what can happen?

So, you can criticize these bands as selling out, but I think you’re wrong. How they are, their character and their beliefs, permeates their music, and when people probe, like the writer of the article, they find something interesting there. Something that might make them want to know more. And that, to me, is being a light. And that encourages me.

It encourages me even more because they’re accomplishing something that many Christian groups aren’t: gaining respect and legitimacy for Christians in the secular world. Is Focus on the Family doing that? Is Promise Keepers doing that? Watch the Simpsons. Read web sites. Non-Christians are turned off to that. They’re both great things, but they’re not engaging the world in a positive way.

But then look at P.O.D. and such. They’re embraced by MTV and written glowingly of by Guitar World. And their faith is at the forefront of all they do. If Christians are going to change society, it’s not going to be by legislation or political influence, I promise you. It’s going to be by engaging the world in a positive way. And it seems to me that it’s the hard core bands that many Christians criticize that are doing this, more than those big Christian organizations who turn off the world. So, maybe we should reconsider who to criticize.

I don’t know, maybe I was encouraged because I feel like this principle extends beyond music. I just feel, at least for me, what I need to do is not be super Christian and preach at people, trying to convince them they’re wrong. But I think I just need to engage the world and try to maintain my integrity, be a light somehow that way, and always have a reason for the hope and the joy I have. Maybe that’s naive, but I just believe this will make more of a difference.

So yeah, read the article if you can. I’ve kind of just skimmed it, as it was a pretty long in depth article, but I came away from it greatly encouraged. I think God was glorified in it, and that’s a great thing.

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