Written by Victor Stanley Jr.
The Futility of Waging War Against Music
Music, and the arts in general, is one of my favorite topics to discuss endlessly. Anyone who has ever spent more than a few hours around me knows that the arts are a great passion of mine, so I want to briefly address an issue I have with the Christian community’s often misguided, and even unintentional war against the arts; specifically music.
Music my friends is not the problem. You see music is simply a medium used to express oneself, yet it seems that we as the Church have decided to wage a war against music. As of late these efforts have been specifically directed at Hip-Hop/Rap, and it has taken the same form as the backlash against Rock & Roll several decades ago. This is honestly a very silly fight against the symptom of a problem, and not the actual problem itself. This misguided effort arises when a person or group of persons attempts to divorce the arts from one another, and is more often than not a result of ignorance on the part of whoever is committing the attempted divorcing.
Follow me as I attempt to bring some clarity to this problem. You see, Music, Painting, Dance, Film, Poetry, Literature, Language, Philosophy, Theology, Political Science, History, Law, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, some forms of Mathematics, and several Sciences compose the Liberal Arts, or simply “The Arts.” The mediums used to express these various disciplines are song, speaking (that is rhetoric), writing, dance, film (movies and television), and painting or any other form of drawing.
So now let me bring it back to Hip-Hop music, specifically lyricism within songs. What these artists write in their songs is not being pulled out of thin air; it is not the result of spontaneous creative thought on their part. You have people getting upset about what is said in songs, and they want to point the finger at the artists, yet they never stop and consider what the impetus might be for their lyrics. This is where the alienating of the arts from one another poses a problem. My favorite rapper is Jay Z so I will use him as an example; Jay Z’s music is filled with teachings from the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths, Eastern Mysticism, Christianity, Islam, Unitarian/Universalism, and various other philosophies and religions including Secular Humanism. Philosophy and Theology (religious studies) both fall under the arts, so it stands to reason that attacking the music will have little effect if one fails to destroy the source, that is, the philosophy and theology driving the content of the music.
The question is not, “What are we going to do about Jay Z’s or whoever else’s music?” Rather it revolves around addressing how to crumble the philosophical, and on a larger scale, the artistic bedrock that fuels the worldview of the culture that expresses these ideals through the various mediums used in the entertainment industry?” A quote that I love comes from Holocaust survivor, author, and former professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna, Dr. Viktor Frankl. In his book The Doctor and the Soul he makes the following statement:
“If we present man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present him as an automation of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instincts, heredity, and environment, we feed the despair to which man is, in any case, already prone. I became acquainted with the last stages of corruption in my second concentration camp in Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment—or, as the Nazis liked to say, of ‘Blood and Soil.’ I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.”
While this quote presents a great apologetic offense against the atheist, it is very pertinent to understanding the significance the arts play in culture. Frankl asserts that it was not hate, not madness, not racism, anger, greed, power, or jealousy that drove Hitler and the Nazis, but rather it was the worldview put forth by nihilists that fueled them; indeed Hitler was a big fan of renowned nihilist Friedrich Nietzsche. It is even more interesting that Hitler was able to win over his country largely due to the fact that he was a highly skilled and charismatic orator; you recall that rhetoric is one of the mediums used to express the arts.
Now I am by no means comparing today’s music artists to Hitler, but I am showing that in the same way Hitler used rhetoric to express the philosophies, psychological assertions, theological stances, and political ideals of the nihilists, so too do today’s musical artists express the various worldviews being propagated by the great thinkers that they study. Once you learn that Jay Z has studied the teachings of Aleister Crowley you become less shocked by the ideas he puts forth in his music. Not only that, but you also realize that silencing the music of a Jay Z will not silence the worldview he holds. To do that you must destroy the teachings of Crowley, of Farrakhan, of Buddha (yes he borrows from Buddhism too), and of Clarence 13X (founder of the Five Percenters). Jay Z is just a mouthpiece for these belief systems, the same way Hitler was a mouthpiece for the nihilists. Hitler was defeated, but the ideals that drove him are alive and well.
So please, let’s stop fighting in futility against music, and movies, and television, let’s fight against the philosophers, the psychologists, the religious leaders, professors, and institutions that formulate the beliefs and ideals that we hear come through in mainstream music.