Saturday, April 19, 2008

American Idol 'Shouts to the Lord'

I know this is over a week late, but I thought I would comment on what happened during the group song portion of American Idol during "Idol Gives Back" week. Since it has been covered extensively in the Christian blogging community over the past week and a half, I won't go into all the details of what happened. But at the end of the show, which focused on needs in Africa, the remaining contestants sang "Shout to the Lord", the popular Christian worship song by Darlene Zschech (pronounced "Check").

Now to those of us that are evangelical Christians, "Shout to the Lord" is an extremely popular song. In fact, it is currently the fifth most popular song in American churches today (according to the CCLI.) But for the general population, I doubt very few of heard of it. And now thanks to the makers of American Idol, tens of millions are familiar with the song.

There has been quite a scuttle about AI's choice to perform this song. Some argue that since it is a thoroughly Christian worship song, it has no place on a secular show with all the contestants having to sing it. On the other hand, some Christians are bothered because the opening line of the song was changed from "My Jesus, My Savior" to "My Shepherd, My Savior." Some thoughts...

1. I'm happy they did the song. I think that having a Christian song sung at the end of a night devoted to giving was appropriate. While other religions also are involved in giving, I doubt any other faith gives more time, money and resources to Africa than the Christian church. Obviously, the producers of the show were fine with it and that is why they performed the song. Another thoroughly Christian song, Amazing Grace, is sung all the time by non-Christians and nobody says boo about it.

2. Since American Idol is easily the most watched show in the U.S. right now, millions of viewers got exposed to a song (and possibly a genre of music) that they were previously unfamiliar with. I don't have any high and lofty notion that millions placed their faith in Christ the night the show aired, but my guess is that the iTunes ranking on Shout to the Lord went up dramatically in the days following the performance. And just maybe some of those people that bought that track, bought some others and might find a relationship with God as a result.

3. I do wonder why they changed the opening lyric. I'm not mad about it...just curious. I know the reasons why they changed it (not wanting to offend and all), but if you're gonna do the song, then do the song. Jesus has been mentioned in other songs on the show (e.g. just recently with Dolly Parton) , so why eliminate His name when it is in the context of adoration? For those of us that hold this perspective, we also need to be okay with it were they to do a song that refers to some other faith's deity (e.g. Allah, Krishna, etc.) In a pluralistic society, if we want our views expressed, we have to allow for others as well.

For some more complete insights on this, I suggest you check out Joshua Harris' blog. Josh is the author of the popular book, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye", and a very good friend of mine. No, I'm just kidding. I've never met the dude, but do check out his posts.

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