Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Everyone Else is Going Delirious? So Why Not Me?

I want to make something very clear before I write the main part of my post... because in some Christian circles I think it may very well be potentially divisive.

I like Delirious? I have a couple of their albums (the favourite being Live & In the Can), and have bought a few singles off iTunes in the past (Miracle Maker is another favourite). I even heard them in concert at Coventry Cathedral  during Pentecost a few years ago. I'm not a fanboy and I'll admit to going a bit off their newer material when they went stateside,, but essentially from a Christian music perspective I generally see them as a force for good... and my post is by no means an attack on them, their music or their supporters.

Now with that cleared up, I can to get to the point. I've heard a lot on Twitter and Facebook about the campaign to get History Maker to No.1 in the charts, I've even had group invites to "Christian Music Topping the UK Charts". I have ignored all the invitations and I've got no intention of buying History Maker (I already own it anyway).

Am I crazy? Am I traitor to the cause?

No... I don't think so (and I know several other Christians who like Delirious? but who feel the same way).

In an attempt to explain my seemingly strange notion, I want to wind the clock back a little to last Christmas... that's when a similar campaign took place to stem the tide against the constant drivel pumped out by Simon Cowell's various chart manifestations. The (succesful) plan was to get Rage Against the Machine to No.1 in place of X Factor.

I agreed very much with the sentiments... I want real music in the charts (although the RATM single didn't float my boat), but I felt very much that it was a case of hating the enemy by becoming the enemy... people were still being sheep... they just chose a different shepherd.

I've referenced this clip before on my blog but I think it sums up my feelings perfectly when it comes to this kind of campaign:

"Those of you.. I see the look in your eyes like "I would have walked differently" well... ask yourselves why you were clapping".

You see... I think when you enter a campaign like that, you might think you are acting differently... but really you are just "clapping" to the same tune.

So when these things come along... be it Rage Against the Machine, Delirious? or anyone else for that matter... I decline to take part. It's my way of "exercising the right not to walk".

It was the success of the Rage Against the Machine campaign that no doubt inspired some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I'll be the first to admit that I get somewhat frustrated with the lack of Christian related material on TV at Easter, but I have to ask what this campaign hopes to achieve... ok so a Christian band gets to number one (and it is looking promising), but how does this change the world? How does it glorify God?

I hope I'm wrong, but what I suspect will happen is that it will polarise opinions and the hard hearted will become even more grounded in their position that Christianity is about a bunch of people trying to force their narrow agenda onto a public that hasn't asked for it and doesn't want it (even though in truth they need it).

My problem with the campaign is that there is a lack of depth. It's as if someone is posing the question "As Christians how can we change the world?" and the only answers that are coming back are "I'll make a banner", "I'll make t shirts", "I'll make a flag... and what's more I'll wave it too!"

Frankly it's not enough.

"Wouldn't it be cool if..." is not enough.

How did Jesus get his message across? Most of the time he fulfilled the practical needs of the people around him and then he shared his message. He demonstrated compassion, action and righteous power first...and then shared his message with those who were willing to hear.

Actions speak louder than words and if people see the truth in what you do, they will listen to the truth of which you speak.

At some point we need to realise how important it is to avail ourselves of the power of God... in order that we can carry out the will of God.

Some commentators have also criticised the choice of song to rally behind; History Maker is largely about how we respond to God as Christians and not about Christ himself. Now I think that charge is a little harsh, because even though it talks about "us" in the first person, it does point the listener in the right direction. Here are the lyrics:

Is it true today that when people pray
Cloudless skies will break
Kings and queens will shake
Yes it's true and I believe it
I'm living for you

Is it true today that when people pray
We'll see dead men rise
And the blind set free
Yes it's true and I believe it
I'm living for you

I'm gonna be a history maker in this land
I'm gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I'm gonna stand, I'm gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again
Into your arms, into your arms again

Well it's true today that when people stand
With the fire of God, and the truth in hand
We'll see miracles, we'll see angels sing
We'll see broken hearts making history
Yes it's true and I believe it
We're living for you.
Written by Martin Smith �1996 Curious? Music UK

I would say that the lyrics of that song are a reminder to us of what we should be doing as Christians... but as mentioned above, I believe that we should be doing these things and not merely listening to songs about doing them.

As it's getting close to Good Friday, I'd like to leave you with a Delirious? song that I think is an excellent meditation on what Jesus actually did for us. I like it because its verses alternate between the charges that people lay against God, and a counterpoint response that illustrates that the pain and hardships we see around us... God identifies with because he himself endured hardship. The Song I am referring to is White Ribbon Day:

Whatever your opinion is of the Delirious? chart storming debate... I hope that you will continue to be blessed by their music, and more importantly God himself.


  1. I'm with you on this, Nick. The "Christian Music at No.1" invites started coming thick and fast weeks ago on Facebook and rather predictably, the comments threads on those groups were the usual bickering.

    Does getting to number one save anymore souls? I think not. As you said, it's all a lot of pointless flag waving.

  2. Thanks Benny.

    I should add that while I'm personally not for it... I'm not against those who are trying to do it... I'm content to let what will be, be. I just wanted to make the argument for the other side.

    There's an extremely well balanced entry by Fraser McAlpine over on the BBC chart blog:

    I think his closing points sum things up nicely:

    "Delirious? have massively devoted fans, and they are very passionate about their band and about how they have been handled by the media in the past. What I would hope is that this gesture, this seasonal gift, is left unspoiled by any sense of righteous vengeance, or desperate Facebook spamming. It's not what this kind of thing should be about.

    The chart success of 'History Makers' is just a really nice gift to give some people who made some music together, and made a lot of people very happy. And it's a neat way of reminding everyone else that Easter isn't just about chocolate eggs.

    That should really be enough, no matter what the song's final chart position."

    The gift thing did make me think because there is the old passage about the worker being worth his wages... and perhaps on an unconscious level... this is what it is really about.


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