Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Carl Trueman on American Idol

I too confess that I watch American Idol.

This is the first season that I have actually watched the deeper competition portion of the show. Usually after all of the hilarious tomfoolery of the initial auditions, where everyone and their great aunt believes (quite mistakenly) that they can sing like Whitney Houston, I lose interest. This year, however, I have hung on and watched most of the proceeding 'rounds'.

I never really stopped to question the attractiveness of such a show, and I'm not sure I would put the same level of generalization on it as my most esteemed professor has done in his most recent article, but I think he does make several very valid and basic points I can certainly get on board with.

It's a great read, and is, as usual, peppered with wonderful British wit and condescension.
After you've read it, please continue....

No, seriously... read that first, or the rest will not make as much sense....

Personally, my fascination with American Idol is two-fold. Where I depart from what Carl Trueman has pointed out, is that coming from my own musical background, I actually am interested in what is happening musically, and vocally on the show. There is a sense in which I am watching the show in order to see if Justice is done, and that those with the best voices are in fact the ones who make it further into the show. I don't vote mind you, and therefore have no say or grounds to complain if justice is not done... but I digress.

I'm not sure if this part of my approach to the show fully departs from the issues Dr. Trueman raises, because I am, at least in part, putting myself as the arbiter of what that Justice would be in this situation. So in a way I am still trying to play God, or at the very least represent him through what I think these people sound like in His ears (still tremendously presumptuous of me).

On the other hand, right along with Dr. Trueman's observations, somewhere deep inside of me, or perhaps not so deep, but also stemming from my own musical background is a deep seated jealousy and longing to be standing in their place. I can't tell you how many times I have found myself singing a hypothetical 'audition' song, or thinking about what would be the best song to perform for said hypothetical audition. Don't get me wrong, I realize I am far past any such things, and I also realize that it would be unlikely that I would get much past the first round, if even that. But that said, I cannot deny the idolatrous lure of that grand scale of what can only be defined as worship. These people are lining up to be worshipped by the American public. The title of the show is no accident, and certainly no coincidence. I can even point to a particular episode in recent weeks where one of the contestants, a professing Christian, sang a praise song for her weekly performance. Afterward, in an attempt to give God glory, she was encouraged, in no uncertain terms, to take some for herself. Now, at first glance even I want to say that I am being overly sensative, and that it is just a TV show. But the more I think about it, it really isn't just a TV show, and its puprposes are far less nuetral than any of us would probably like to admit. Of course, no one is saying that Simon Cowell is consciously promoting a format of organized idol worship. The fact of the matter is that he doesn't have to. We are all more than willing to make it all of that on our own, which is the heart of what Dr. Trueman is getting at.

The reason why it is a temptation, and the reason why we are so attracted to this show and those like it is because we all have within us the ultimate desire to put ourselves above all others and to receive their worship - to receive that which is set aside for God alone, to take His place, and to receive the love of His creation, the adulation and glory of the masses, that should only be directed at the one who alone is worthy: Jesus Christ.

This kind of temptation is something that myself and those like me will have to face and defeat (if not already doing so) as we head out of seminary and into the pulpits of Christ's Church. It may not be the mass of millions of music buying Americans, but the temptation to seek and pursue for ourselves the glory that belongs to Christ will be just as powerful in our local congregations as it would be standing on that stage before the countless eyes of the TV viewing public.

Personally, I already see this as one of my first and most difficult struggles in the months and years to come. So this is a warning for myself and all who are looking to serve Christ's Church...

God will not give His glory to another. (Isaiah 48:11)

1 comment:

Luke said...

You said tomfoolery...that's hilarious. And American Idol sucks.