I think the Mark Lowry delusion was so off base….reading WAY too deep into a shallow man. Mark Lowry doesn’t believe the bible is the final authority, he makes jokes that make eevvveerrybbbooooddy laugh about how other people believe. He makes a mockery of OLDline traditional pentecostals or southern baptists because he cannot stand the standard they live by.
Here is a perfectly teachable moments about the perils of the joyful-noise approach to music appreciation. Based on this logic, the ability to enjoy a musical or artistic performance pivots on the degree to which the fan and the artist agree in particular matters of belief, theology, and worldview. Notice how the all the critical energy here centers on finding reasons to not take the music and the performance seriously, rather than taking the artistic effort at face value and judging it on the merits. Of course, if you can’t articulate a basic framework for how to distinguish good music from bad, then judging something on its merits probably gets pretty tricky. Witness: He makes a mockery of OLDline traditional pentecostals or southern baptists … and so on. Of course Lowry makes jokes about how other people believe. He’s a Christian comedian. But to call that making a mockery of orthodoxy, is rather like saying that HeeHaw was elitist because it made fun of hillbillies.
That doesn’t mean the likeability of a performer is never an issue. People whose performing persona we detest or disapprove of will typically disincline us to be fans of the person’s music (and by persona I mean to distinguish between the private person we imagine or construct from the snippets of the performer we see in public). Witness, the Brittney Spears Debacle. But there’s no obvious or overt aspect of Lowry’s career that shades into this kind of infamy … and yes, I’m factoring in the sexuality rumors.
I have no idea if Lowry is shallow or not, just as I don’t know if Taranda Greene believes in the perseverance of the saints or whether Randy Shelnut is a good tipper or not. That’s because these things are at best secondarily related to their ability to create powerful, affecting musical performances, communicate psychospiritual ideas meaningfully, and make available religious experiences in song. But someone who is shallow, or doesn’t believe in eternal salvation or stiffs the help must have a bad heart, you say, and so won’t be able to truly communicate the gospel in song … ah, but you see, herein lies the solipsism of the joyful-noiser, ever ready with an unprovable assumption that creates its own looked-for outcomes.
My gut tells me it’s unlikely someone would work as hard at what he does as Lowry without believing genuinely – deeply – in something larger than the self, though I have no trouble believing that whatever he does believe is heterodox at best. But to be honest, what he or Greene or Shelnut or any other performer believes doesn’t prevent me from deriving satisfaction from listening to and participating in the performance of their music as a listening fan. But then again, I listen to music for what it allows me to feel and think and reimagine, not because I want or need it confirm every basic tent of my worldview.Email this Post