PRAISE AND EVIL SPIRITS
The power of music is well known. We all react to a patriotic march or to our college football “fight” song. Military leaders have long known the importance of music and drums as they prepared their men to go to battle. Music not only raises emotions, it brings back memories. Hearing a particular song reminds us of a certain time in our lives, or a specific event in our past. There is an obvious connection between the music we listen to and our minds.
Michael Dawson is a Christian missionary. His parents are missionaries in the jungles of Venezuela, where he and several brothers and sisters were born. Brother Dawson still lives in the jungle, evangelizing the indigenous Yanomamö people. He has written a book describing his youth and the experience of living in the Amazonian jungle. (Growing up Yanomamö, Winepress Publishing, 2006)
I find it remarkable that this Brother, who grew up in the jungle and lost his wife to malaria in the jungle, speaks of the difficult lives of the missionaries who preceded him. Of course, his family did have a record player, and listened to Southern Gospel music. That made his life of anacondas, vipers, jaguars and creepy crawly things much better. Did I comment on piranhas?
I mention the Southern Gospel music because on two separate occasions in two separate villages the missionaries were playing their records and received complaints from some of the villagers. On both occasions the village shamans asked them to stop the music because their evil spirits would not come to them while the music played. The shamans did not understand the English words of the songs, but the spirits would not or could not come near when the Lord was being praised. There is a lesson here for us in our daily lives.
These experiences of Brother Dawson are in stark contrast to a story I read of other missionary children playing Contemporary Christian music on a cassette recorder in another jungle village. A Christian villager came to them and asked why they were playing music of the style the village shamans used. This new Christian could not understand the words, but he understood the music and its association with paganism.
When we sing most Contemporary Christian “praise songs” in our churches, we are asked to stand. Could the reason why we stand be that you cannot dance or move your hips while sitting down? The reason why you naturally want to dance is the beat in the music. The beat comes from Rock music, which comes from pagan music. How can pagan or Rock music have a place in the Church of our Lord?
Church leaders, please consider this with prayer. May the Lord be praised forever.