In his new book, Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns (P & R Publishing), T. David Gordon argues that modern worship choruses have trumped hymns in many congregations because for decades, we have been inundated with pop music—to the point that many of us don't know better. If you eat nothing but Big Macs, Gordon says, you will never appreciate a filet mignon.
A professor of religion at Grove City College, Gordon takes a media ecology approach, which he describes as the study of "the social and individual human consequences when a new medium is introduced to a culture." Regarding church music, Gordon says, media ecologists should ask how music, "once a participatory thing, became a passive thing. What happens when people who used to sing folk music around the house are now surrounded by Muzak? How does that alter our sensibilities of music?"
In the context of the church's "worship wars," Gordon's views may seem controversial and certainly will not stop the feuding. While not everyone will agree with him, his arguments can take the discussion about church music to a deeper, richer place. Christianity Today senior associate editor Mark Moring recently spoke with Gordon.
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