Matthew R. Perry

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Disney’s Palatable Philosophies a Concern

In Apologetics, Creator, Music, prayer on March 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm

This past Friday night, we took our children to see Disney on Ice, and they absolutely loved it. Yet, I really began to listen to some of the songs that are not only Disney staples, but are now American standards–and I began to shake my head.

Hakuna Matata (Lion King). “It means no worries, all the rest of our days.”

The Lion King is a cinematic masterpiece. Clearly this one and Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight? are the two songs which gained a great deal of traction. Hakuna Matata, sung by Timon the meerkat and Pumbba the warthog, gives a “worry-free philosophy” that appeals not only to Simba but to many of us. It echoes the message of the 1989 Bobby McFerrin hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Three times in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us not to be anxious (worry), as does the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Timon and Pumbba advocated not worrying in order to avoid responsibilities. Jesus tells his followers not to worry because of a failure to trust God’s providence. For a Christian, worry is about not trusting God to work all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Granted, Timon and Pumbba’s advice is not heeded by Simba, who responds to the issue at hand—but many sing this song as a way to relieve stress.

“Let your conscience be your guide” (Jiminy Cricket).

This is rotten advice—but it’s especially bad when Christians use this logic believing it is sound advice in helping them in their walk with Christ. But our conscience is solely informed by our belief system. Muslims have a conscience when they miss one of their prayers. Mormons have a conscience if they drink caffeine, which goes against a tenet of their faith. Even Atheists have a conscience, when they go against their dictums as well.

Christians need to realize that our conscience is not equivalent to the voice of God. Our conscience merely reacts to what our heart and will hold most dear. And given that we are such sinful, fallen creatures whose consciences can be seared or to a lesser degree numbed, this is absolutely terrible advice.

Yet, Christians use this logic all the time: just follow your conscience. This was especially true in 1992-1993 when a subject came up before the Southern Baptist Convention about a certain civic organization (or should I say, religion) known as the Freemasons. Instead of coming out and taking a stand, here is what they said:

In light of the fact that many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine, while others are compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine, we therefore recommend that consistent with our denomination’s deep convictions regarding the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, membership in a
Masonic Order be a matter of personal conscience.
Therefore, we exhort Southern Baptists to prayerfully and carefully evaluate Freemasonry in light of the Lordship of Christ, the teachings of the Scripture, and the findings of this report, as led by the Holy Spirit of God.

The holes in this are big enough to swim a blue whale through. My intention is not to say anything positive or negative in this about the Freemasons (I have addressed this elsewhere), but to show the logic of my beloved denomination. Our conscience must be directed by the authority of Scripture without any dilution or compromise–not by what we may personally believe–because we are flawed!

It’s scary when Jiminy Cricket starts informing our religious policies.

“When you wish upon a star…” (Jiminy Cricket).

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

A number of issues jump out. For one, wishing upon ‘a star.’ Taking our desires to the stars? This is nothing short of astrology! Even Wikipedia is helpful for a definition:

Astrology (from Greek ἄστρον, astron, “constellation, star”; and -λογία, -logia, “the study of”) is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs which hold that the relative positions of celestial bodies and related details can provide useful information about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial matters.

These ‘stars’ now have personalities (which is where the constellations’ personalities in general, and the Signs of the Zodiac in particular, come into play along with the reading of horoscopes) to which we may appeal. As a result, whatever desires we wish for toward this star will come to you! Yet, dear Christian, look at Hebrews 4:14-16:

14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We do not appeal to things created for guidance, but to the Creator through Jesus Christ.

Secondly, the phrase “no request is too extreme” is disturbing. No request is too extreme? Granted, in the context of the movie, Pinocchio the marionette wishes to be a real boy! This is an extreme wish! But the song now stands on its own. As Christians, we realize we are fallen people and that our wishes may stem from our fallenness rather than what is right and true.

Thirdly, the personification of “fate” is disturbing. Again, we need a definition:

: the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do : destiny

“She” is “kind” and brings to “those who love their secret longing.” This nameless director of all things not only has attributes but perceives attributes in others. While the melody is very tender and, yes, catchy, the content of this song is very unbiblical.


We can put our abhorrent philosophies to nice and catchy melodies and plant seeds in hearts without the receivers being none the wiser. How much more in tenderhearted children (and adults) who see animation and think its harmless? We must not be like so many who say, “I only listen to the music, not the words.” For those of us who have been gripped by the Gospel, we must be careful of the schemes of the devil and of man, who work to have us be gripped by something else that will lead us astray.


For Whose Glory Do We Make Music? (Bob Kauflin)

In Music, Worship on February 25, 2009 at 3:29 pm

When Biblical Theology Informs Congregational Music Performance

In Music on October 17, 2008 at 10:29 am

Even though I serve as a pastor, I received my college and Master’s in Church Music, with an emphasis in piano.  I do not have an opportunity to play much  during our worship services simply due to my other duties in preaching.  Yet, this past Sunday our pianist was out of town, so I filled in.  I forgot how much I enjoyed playing in aiding our people in the worship of our Lord Jesus.

Our offertory hymn was Bill and Gloria Gaither’s “Because He Lives.”  I confess this is one of my favorite hymns to sing.  What struck me was the third stanza:

And then one day I’ll cross the river;
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns.

Here, the music must be an appropriate vehicle for the text. I started it out softly, hoping the congregation would take time to consider their own mortality and the finality of not just their life, but also the “final war with pain.” But then when we hit that third line, “And the, as death gives way to vict’ry,” this is when I felt I really needed to dig in on the piano to help lift our hearts to the reality that death is not the end–it’s an entry into glory!

Music can be a snare because we can be so caught up with the tune, the harmonies, and the rhythms that the words risk being lost. In the context of Christian worship, the music always, always, always serves the text.  The music must support and propel the biblical message found in the text of the song or hymn. 

Bob Kauflin has a wonderful website called Worship Matters which helps musicians not just think musically but biblically and theology in regards to their music leadership. 

12 Days of Christmas (Straight No Chaser)

In Christmas, Music on December 27, 2007 at 2:54 pm


A Jazz Video of Stephane Grappelli and McCoy Tyner — Sweet Jazz Indeed

In Jazz, Music on July 19, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Stephane Grappelli Plays “How High the Moon”

Many of you know I love jazz. Here, Stephane Grappelli and McCoy Tyner play the violin and piano, respectively, on this standard, “How High the Moon.” Just amazing interplay between the members. Keep in mind, Grappelli is 83 years old!

Chick Corea Plays “Spain” from the 1970s

In Jazz, Music on April 15, 2007 at 7:54 pm

I know, I know — jazz… many of you feel that the quality of this blog just dropped through the floor — I’ll pray for your conversion.

I love jazz and I even love Chick Corea’s music, but I wanted to give you an idea of some of the music that really lights me up musically.

Chick Corea Plays “Spain” from the 1970s

In Jazz, Music on April 15, 2007 at 7:54 pm

I know, I know — jazz… many of you feel that the quality of this blog just dropped through the floor — I’ll pray for your conversion.

I love jazz and I even love Chick Corea’s music, but I wanted to give you an idea of some of the music that really lights me up musically.