A Funny and Scary Video

November 5th, 2008 Post by

(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.

Rules for comments on this site:

Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.  If you have a topic you think is important to have an article or discussion on, we invite you to submit a request through the "Ask a Pastor" link or submit a guest article.

Provide a valid email address. If you’re unwilling to do this, we are unwilling to let you comment.

Provide at least your first name. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example.  If you have a good reason to use a fake name, please do so but realize that the administrators of the site expect a valid email address and also reserve the right to ask you for your name privately at any time.

If you post as more than one person from the same IP address, we’ll block that address.

Do not engage in ad hominem arguments. We will delete such comments, and will not be obligated to respond to any complaints (public or private ones) about deleting your comments.

Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.

We reserve the right to identify and deal with trollish behavior as we see fit and without apology.  This may include warnings (public or private ones) or banning.

  1. November 6th, 2008 at 01:44 | #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. LarryLuder
    November 6th, 2008 at 06:24 | #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. November 6th, 2008 at 07:21 | #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. Carol
    November 6th, 2008 at 07:32 | #4

    Here is a link to an interview with the guy singing lead. He describes the circumstances of that “performance”. The blog itself is pretty disgusting but this particualar interview is informative.

  5. Eric Ramer
    November 6th, 2008 at 09:17 | #5

    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.

  6. Peggers
    November 6th, 2008 at 09:51 | #6

    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.

  7. November 6th, 2008 at 10:19 | #7

    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.

  8. November 6th, 2008 at 12:17 | #8

    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!

  9. November 7th, 2008 at 10:22 | #9

    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.”

  10. Martin Luther
    November 7th, 2008 at 11:50 | #10
  11. SteadfastLutherans
    November 10th, 2008 at 13:31 | #11


    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

If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.