My subversive music.

In the late seventies, I worked in radio. Which means I worked for our all-volunteer 10-watt campus radio station.

Nancy and I in 1982.

One semester, I worked mornings from 9-11 or so. The last half-hour we broadcast the college chapel service. The 90 minutes before that was music, news at the top of each hour, community calendar announcements. There was little room for innovation.

A 10-watt station doesn’t cover much geography, mostly on campus. And not many people care about it. I became aware that the listeners we knew about were in the campus offices. They turned on the radio so they could listen to chapel.

I am not “go out in a blaze of glory” person. But I did see an opportunity to be subversive in the realm of Christian music. Because I was listening to the small but growing pool of Christian rock, and because I had been raised listening to the opposite of Christian rock, I knew the styles. I started listening for songs by the Christian rock people that would sound okay to the ears of the opposite people. I would mix them in so that I could say, in the little debates in my head, “See! You think they are so evil. But you just listened to Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill and Love Song and you didn’t even know it. In fact, you liked it!”

Those debates never happened, of course. But using the word “see” has continued. “See? Here’s one voice, one story, one article, one person, one event that fits my argument. So I’m right.” I, and a variety of the “we” groups that I am connected to are driven more by winning arguments than by loving people.

Dr Mark Souder, the county health officer in a county next to mine was talking to a reporter about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in his county.

“’Any group setting is risky,’ he said, adding he is disappointed that many don’t want to wear masks, even though they can protect others. ‘You can’t motivate someone in this society to do something on a chance it will help someone else, unfortunately,’ he said.”

Because the hospitalized cases from his county end up in the hospital where I work, I was interested. I am watching the climbing number of cases in the hallways I walk.

Because the core of my calling is doing things on the chance they will help other people, I was sad. Regardless of the sides, those who follow Jesus are called to loving God and loving our neighbors. Regardless of what motivates people in this society, what must motivate us is concern for the good of those around us. The ones we love. The ones who don’t trust us.

My attitude toward the “old ladies in the president’s office” (younger then than I am now), was built around winning an argument rather than helping them through their morning. As Nehemiah said, and I am trying to say, “Our people have sinned, my tribe has sinned, I have sinned.”


My friend Jen does a wonderful job of wrestling through applying the words of Jesus to deciding about starting regathering as a youth group. Agree or disagree, her thoughtful reflection and actions are a useful model.

One thought on “My subversive music.

  1. Bill Lee

    As always, thanks for doing what you do.
    Thanks today in particular for the link to Jen’s article on “regathering” her youth groups.

    Her logic is pretty much the same that we applied 6 weeks ago to our decision not to restart in-person services until at least early August and then continue to make decisions as guided by the facts as we understand them. The same group, a subset of the Deacons and the Health Ministry Team will be meeting tomorrow to future action. Jen’s words will be reinforcing and helpful to us in our discussion.

    Bill Lee


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