A Funny and Scary Video

(Editor’s Note: This video and introduction is brought to us by our BJS columnist Cantor Phillip Magness. He got the video  from fellow cantor and BJS chapter founder in New York, Stephen R. Johnson. Cantor Magness writes the  “Not Your Grandfathers’ Church” column for BJS.)


by Phillip Magness

We’re thinking of showing this to our junior confirmands and our high school youth,as an example of why we don’t embrace what most people call “contemporary” worship” (even as we use plenty of 21st-century compositions in our own Divine Services).

I know this seems “out there” – but musically it’s actually better-played than some of the stuff I’ve heard in LCMS churches trying to be “hip”.   The point, therefore, is to illustrate how dated “pop lite” sounds just a few years later.   I believe this was originally broadcast in the late 1980s, just a few years after “New Wave Music” ran its course. I’m sure those who hold up “freedom” as their ultimate ideal will think it is terribly “judgmental” to show this.   But I believe we are called to have good judgment and need to teach people how and why the church seeks to make good, discerning decisions in the arts.   Sanitized and behind-the-times even when it was originally performed, the mediocrity of the composition is exceeded only by the poverty of its theology.   But hey, “who are you to pick on someone’s theology and their art when they are so obviously sincere!”

I think the show was “Hour of Power”, but I’m not sure.   Maybe someone will recognize the host who comes on at the end of the clip and help us out.

Click here for the funny and scary video.


A Funny and Scary Video — 11 Comments

  1. My favorite parts:

    “He is like a mountie. He always gets his man. And he’ll zap you any way he can. ZAP!”

    “He’ll love me when I’m perfect if I ever get that way.”

    Yeah. That’ll get people to ask Jesus in to their hearts.

  2. Dr. Russell Barber, November 4, 1934-June 5, 2007. Former Religion Editor for NBC for 15 years. He produced and hosted a television show call’The First Estate: Religion in Review’. It used to air on WNBC (channel 4 in NY) on Sunday mornings at 11AM. He was a contributing editor to the Today Show and NBC New Specials. He earned three Emmys, one Garbriel and numerous other industry and religious awards. He served on the board for the Institute on Religion & Public Policy and was an advisor to the Templetone Prize for progress in religion. Most recently he had been involved in the United Nations ”World Harmony Run” with Guru Shri Chinmoy.

    Christian Ska Band from the 70’s- hmmmm…

  3. The name of that TV show was “The First Estate”. It used to air on WNBC (channel 4 in NY) on Sunday mornings at 11AM and hosted by Dr. Russell Barber. The show was taped in the late 70’s.

  4. I saw this on Rev. Cwirla’s (sp?) Blogosphere a couple of weeks ago. It got in my head to the point that I was dreaming it at night. I though maybe I was being cursed for mocking God by mocking the video, but my Pastor assures me that mocking this video isn’t akin to mocking God, so I’ve been sleeping better. But now I got this insideous piece of, uhm…music (yeah, thats it) stuck in my head again! AARRRGGGHHHHH!

    By the way, aren’t those lyrics, priceless? The words mean the same, just the music’s changed. Yeah,…Riigghhhttt.

  5. I don’t know what to say about that video except Heeeelarious! Reminds me of the praise band at my old church in Colorado. Old guys trying to get their rock on for Jesus. I think you could tell some of them weren’t into it.

  6. Hey, hey! I knew someone in our BJS community would be able to help us out – but THREE of you in less than 24 hours! That’s great!

    OK – so it was late 70’s, not late 80’s. That does mean I should change my article one bit: the style may have been sanitized rock-n-roll, but it was not “behind-the-times”. For late 70’s, it was fairly cutting-edge New Wave. And I do give them credit for being tight. (musician slang for being in sync rhythmically and not hitting any wrong notes) And one has to admit that there is a certain catchiness to the whole thing.

    But now I think this illustrates an even stronger point: even if the Church can succeed in being “hip” for a moment, the world will move “hip” immediately somewhere else. And so looking back such efforts will always seem comical, at best. (I have had similar riots singing some of the religious pop sheet music in a Sinatra style by well-intentioned Anglicans in the 50’s, and have had a real fun time singing some religious pop from the 1920s.) So I think people will look back at LCMS “praise teams” in 30 years and get similar chuckles. It’s just the way of our “fast changing world”, to quote Dr. Barry.

    The core problem with ALL of this is that the music is driven by a desired sound. It may be the beat of the Charleston, the lush chords of the jazz era, or the punky grooves of New Age. So the text is then contrived to “fit” into the prescribed sound, and deemed OK as long as the sentiments are judged to be religious and sincere. Music is valued for its psychological effects, not for its ability to magnify the Word.

    A good text may actually find its musical form in a peppy beat (“Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia”), pick up some jazzy chords (“How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord”), or even be hip for a moment (“Gabriel’s Message” as sung by Sting, for example). But such music succeeds over time in the Church – and is valued as good art even by secular musicians – because it is driven by the words, not by the beat or the harmony.

    Jesus is indeed our Friend. The great Good News is that He calls us friends, even though we are unworthy servants. But without the primacy of the lyric element, music cannot proclaim that message. At best it might be able to carry it along in an obscured way; at worst it is simply a diversion.

  7. Too funny…and scary as you say. I thought for most of the video that this group was actually doing this as sarcasm…and then by the end I realized they weren’t!

  8. I like Phil’s idea of using this as a “why we don’t” teaching tool. I first saw the video a few weeks ago, and it is really funny, until it gets stuck in your head! I was a little worried when my husband started playing it for our kids, but, fortunately, they didn’t get drawn in. Now we use it to prank each other. As in, right after I finish watching the DVD Singing the Faith and have my head full of songs that are meet, right, and salutary, my husband plays “Jesus Is a Friend of Mine.”

  9. Cindy,

    I agree. Everytime I listen to it, it gets stuck in my head for about six hours then seems to pass. Six hours is a long time for I guy with my sort of attention problems :) .

    Pastor Rossow

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