We didn't grow up listening to music at home. Grandpa—who we lived with for a while—had a piano that caught our occasional childish fancy, but it slept otherwise. I got my music elsewhere: "praise and worship" at church and jukebox hits at the bar.
From an early age, I frequented the latter with Dad, and he let me pick the tunes: "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, "Three Times a Lady" by the Commodores, "Urgent" by Foreigner. I liked what he liked, and I think that even at that young age, I knew what a particular locale and its patrons preferred—classic rock versus country, for example.
But I couldn't really explain it, not in a meaningful way. I couldn't tell you why Keith Green showed up at church and Rod Stewart rasped away by the cigarette vending machine. They just did.
I've learned a lot about music since then. The Good, True, and Beautiful seem to show up wherever they please, suggesting that musical segregation keeps us from listening well. The jukebox didn't always have it wrong; the choir didn't always have it right.
That makes discernment tough. Every song. Every musician. Every setting. How do I do this without turning it all into a cold science? It was easier being a kid. I want to enjoy it!
On April 11-13, Calvin College will host its 6th biennial Festival of Faith and Music. FFM 2013 "brings together musicians, critics, journalists, musicians, artists, and listeners for three days of discussing and celebrating insightful music that explores, in some significant way, issues of faith."
To my points above, the hosts go on to add, "We seek to discern the ways grace, love, compassion, and the Christian faith are expressed in the world of popular music. We seek to be conscientious listeners, agents of renewal, and prophets of the Light."
I like this. I like what they're trying to do, and judging by friends who travel across states to attend this event time and again and have everything good to say about it, I think they're doing it. Perhaps this speaks to the music fan in you? Speakers include Andrew Bird, Chuck Klosterman, Derek Webb, Sarah Masen, and Daniel White Hodge. And The Welcome Wagon will be there to jam.
Check it out.