Does anybody remember Nitro Praise from the mid to late 1990s? I had a friend/ roommate in college who LOVED Nitro Praise (NP from here on out). He's this geeky kind of guy who would never go to a dance club, but who would blast NP all day long if you would let him. If you haven't heard of NP before, let me fill you in: It was a series of Christian CD's which took contemporary praise music and set it to dance club beats (mostly techno type stuff). Imagine a song like "As the Deer" set to techno. Its not pretty. Its actaully a bit annoying and not very enjoyable. But Christians were way into it because it felt okay to listen to dance music because the songs were all praise songs.
So why am I talking about NP? A few weeks ago Matthew Paul Turner blogged about a new video game called Guitar Praise. That's right, folks, Guitar Praise (GP). GP is a Christian copy of games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The official website says this:
"Strap on the guitar and play along with your favorite bands—tobyMac, Relient K, Flyleaf, Newsboys —and more. SHRED the riffs…THUMP the bass…BLAST that solid Christian Rock!"
You get to 'rock out' to shredders like Petra, Chris Tomlin, and the Newsboys. There are a couple of rockin' bands on the song list (like The Crucified - one the best metal bands ever, Christians or not), but most of them are songs that I could never shred, thump, or blast. Apparently the same company that makes GP also makes a game called Dance Praise.
Anyways, I have serious biases against 'christian entertainment'. It just simply is not (in my opinion) the way we should live as believers, continually separating ourselves from our culture. I read an observation recently, maybe in Relevant magazine, about how Christians in general are not counter-cultural, but have become merely another sub-culture. So instead of innovating, many 'christian' products tend to be knock-offs of regular products (Guitar Praise for example). I tend to be biased against things labeled 'christian' because many are cheesy and often of low quality. I didn't say 'all things' but many, even most. So if I can help it, I never set foot into 'christian' retail stores.
I see no need for a plumber who comes to Christ to become a 'christian plumber'. In the same way, I see no need for an artist who follows Jesus to label everything they create 'christian' or for a believing software designer to call his products 'christian software.' Etc, etc, etc. There is something beautiful about simply being a follower of Jesus.