Hello, this is Terry Ewell and welcome to this video on music and morality or moral influences in music.  To best understand the points I am trying to make here I want you to adopt the viewpoint that many [ethno]musicologists adopt. When they go to study a culture, when they go to learn about the musical cultures they try as much as possible to leave aside their viewpoints and ways of looking at the world and instead live within that other culture. For now when I am talking about morality and music and presenting to you a certain Christian viewpoint, I want you to temporarily lay aside your own opinions and try to understand within this context of Christianity I am presenting what the issues are. What the issues are with morality and music. I think that it will give you a better view of many of the issues discussed in our book, Controversies of the Music Industry, as well as the article I wrote.  So let’s go here.

A Christian viewpoint, at least the one I am advocating here on the video, obviously extends from the teachings we find in what we call the New Testament or the Greek Bible. Of course foundational to that is the understanding that Jesus gave to the world. His philosophy was that what you see in the external—the actions that people do—come from what is inside the heart. So first you have something happening inside, and then from what happens inside the heart, soul, and even the mind, then come about these actions.

James, this is a writer also of the New Testament, writes this way: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” [James 1: 14-15, New King James Translation] So James puts forth a progression. He starts out first with enticements, you get the desires: when someone is enticed. Then desires gives birth to an action, a thought, a motive, and then from that comes forth sin or an external action and from that you then see the repercussions. You see a clear progression here.

So the Christian point of view that I am advocating here, that I am trying to help you to understand, is that there are things that happen inside a person, things that are hidden, that can impact, that can bring about things that happen in the external world, things that are visible—that can be observed.

Now that we have developed this idea of internal things moving to external things, we need to also establish that external things can influence internal things. It is the Christian point of view that external things such as music, food, culture, anything you can touch or taste can influence you. A Christian point of view would be… you may have observed in church services, perhaps you turn on the TV and you will see examples of Christians singing, passionately singing, perhaps you have seen examples of Christians with music that makes them cry or look towards heaven…the idea is that Christians have experience external things such as music that cause in them internal [spiritual] reactions, that cause changes within them. It is a Christian belief that the external can also influence the internal. By internal I mean your thought life, your emotions, what the Christians might call the soul, what they might call the heart. All of that can be influenced.

Let me give you an example of this counter play between the external and the internal. Obviously for a Christian point of view the biggest role player, the biggest external role player is God. God having the power to create everything, God having the power to change the world, and God having the power to influence Christians as well; this is considered primary to the Christian faith. For instance, in my life I had an experience where I was a college student at the University of Washington. Often we would park on campus and as you entered the campus you would pick up a ticket at the ticket booth. Then you would park. You would leave the ticket on your dash[board] and then as you exited the campus you would give the attendant the ticket and you would pay whatever the fee is. Well this one day I came out of class and I was impatient and there was a long line before the ticket booth. I decided that no one is going to know. I will just speed on by the ticket booth and the person won’t even see me. I thought to myself, “Well, I won’t steal the money here.” I said a little prayer to God, “God, I will put that money that I would have paid there at the ticket booth in the offering [a donation to a church] on the next Sunday.” “So I am not benefitting myself, instead I am giving the money to you.” As I was in the car speeding by the ticket booth, I immediately—I can’t say I aurally heard the words—had a communication from God. God’s communication was “I don’t want that money.” I was dumbfounded at that point realizing that I had done something I considered sinful. God did not want money that I had stolen from somebody else to then put in an offering.

For us and our discussion here, I want you to understand that from the Christian point of view the external role that God can play or that a believer believing in God could play. This communication I had from God—I didn’t hear audible words—never-the-less it was a communication, a thought that I heard that I attribute to God. God was the external source. I had my own plan. I decided that I was not going to pay the ticket and give the money to the church. I had told God that. God then answered. I saw that as an external influence that then changed my mood. I then reacted to it inside. I did not see that as an imagination of God within me struggling with my internal conscience. I saw that as external. For the Christian you have to understand that external influences can be important [influences] over what goes on inside.

We find within this Christian vantage point—it is complex, try not to [over] simplify it—that as given in James we find internal desires that can move forth to external actions.  The external can then influence the internal. We have this feedback loop, if you will, or influence of internal to external and external to internal and back and forth. Because music as viewed by the Christians can be so helpful for worship [of God], they see music as one of these important external influences that can change what happens internally.

Let me try to tie this together for you so that you can better understand and compare the difference between this Christian viewpoint and a few other viewpoints I have given here. So as we have seen with the Christian viewpoint we have a very active inner life. I would say that this inner spiritual life is primary to the Christian viewpoint. The exterior part of that life, what you see, touch, smell, taste, [and hear!] comes out of this inner life. It is this inner life from the Christian vantage point that is the most important. It is the area with faith in God, it is the area (going back to the chart here) where you are tempted, your desires are born, the birth of sin, the working through of that, and then its manifestation in the outer life.

Now interestingly enough, the Satanist is probably in agreement with the Christian point of view here. The Satanist would share in the Christian point of view that there is a soul, there is an active inner life, that changes can occur in that inner life, that decisions are made. All of that is shared in common between these two viewpoints.

When we get to the Materialist and Secular viewpoint, however, things start to change. In fact, mostly in our society in America this is the viewpoint that is emphasized. The external life is primary. Things that occur in your thoughts, while not unimportant, are not considered of primary importance. The Materialist furthermore is not likely to explain the soul, the inner workings and thoughts, in terms of things that are spiritual, in terms of things not connected to the body. The Christian viewpoint has the soul as eternal. The soul although attached to the body for a time can continue with life beyond the body. The Materialist would say that the body is the life. So the physical nature of life is what is of primary importance. They would explain thoughts in terms of the brain rather than the mind. “Mind” being not physical, “brain,” however, being physical. [For the Materialist] thoughts, emotions, and all of that are connections between neurons in the brain, body chemistry, and those sorts of things. The Materialist shares much in common with the Legal System. A Legal System cannot look at this inner life or what is happening inside of a person. It can only examine what is the exterior of that life: what people do and the results of their actions. This is the only thing that can be examined.

This may explain the different conclusions reached by the Lockhart Commission and the Meese Commission. This is mentioned on page 190 of Controversies of the Music Industry. You might have one commission in which people view the inner life as active and the inner life produces the exterior life. On the other hand, you might have people that are more from the Materialist/Secular or more of the Legal System point of view. They realize that it is really only the exterior life that we can look at. There is not a direct connection [cause—effect] between what happens in the interior life with what happens in the exterior life. At least you can’t prove that legally.

Now I hope that I have set the groundwork for you to understand my article on “What is Christian in Music?” as well as the chapters in Controversies of the Music Industry that we have been examining that deal with morality and music (chapters 10 and 5).

Please understand that the Christian culture is not monolithic, meaning it has a single point of view. I wouldn’t characterize the Satanic culture that way—having a single point of view—nor would I the Legal culture or the Secular culture. There are going to be a number of viewpoints [within each] and you have to allow enough space to look at these viewpoints. Don’t over simplify things. I hope that this will inform part of your understanding of the tension a Christian might feel towards music. Understand that throughout time the end result [external actions] has been interpreted differently in varied cultures and in different contexts. So what might be considered proper and right in a certain culture may be improper or considered wrong in another culture. You have to allow for that. When you see the censorship timeline given on pages 200-207 in Controversies of the Music Industry you can see within the United States a change in culture and what is acceptable. It presents the idea that laws are made based upon societies, and societies change their viewpoints over time.  Now the fact that Christian cultures are not unified today may lead you to the impression that perhaps at one time they were unified [in their cultural views].  I hope to dispel you of that erroneous idea. If you look in the letter to the Romans by Paul in what we call the fourteenth chapter, Paul in that letter discusses differences in opinion on cuisine, on food, and what you should eat, when you should eat it, how you should eat it. He notes within the Christian community there are a number of different ideas as to what should be done. 
I want to read for you and conclude with one sentence that you will find in my article:

"The essence of the Christian experience resides not with the musical object (a song, a recording, a rhythmic pattern, and instrument, etc.) or cuisine, but rather with our interaction with and our attitudes towards music or cuisine." [Terry B. Ewell, “What is Christian in Music?”]

If you can understand that one statement, and understand the complexity of that statement, then I will have achieved what I hoped to do on this video. Take a look at that statement and consider it terms of the internal life of the Christian, the progression towards an external action, and the complexity of different communities and how they would view that [music, etc.] Consider it in terms of conscience, in terms of matters of taste, and finally consider it in terms of how you can best help others—that is called within Christianity the “law of love.”

So I hope that you have been able to enter into what is a Christian understanding of the complexities of this issue. I hope this has given you insights as to why certain groups within Christianity have fought very vigorously and publically to change standards. I hope this has also given you insights into the other groups: the Satanist group, the Materialist group, and also the complexity in our legal system. Thank you, bye.