What are We Teaching Them?

September 21, 2007 at 10:45 pm 8 comments

I just sent this letter to Family Christian Bookstores. If you shop at their store (or if you’re just concerned with what’s being sold at Christian bookstores), I would urge you to consider looking into this and writing them yourself.

Dear sir or ma’am,

I received a new flyer for Family Christian Bookstore in the mail today and I must admit that I was shocked and disappointed by the ad for “tween and teen” cd’s that I saw inside.

This advertisement highlighted three cd’s – High School Musical 2, Aly & AJ: Insomniatic, and Jonas Brothers. All three of these choices seem in poor taste for a Christian store. While there is nothing inherently wrong with High School Musical 2, it’s a soundtrack to a secular movie and should be left in the secular music and bookstores, since there’s nothing specifically “Christian” or godly about it. This cd is simply irrelevant to Family Christian’s purpose.

The next cd, The Jonas Brothers is, again, a very secular cd. The boys in the band may profess to be Christians but there music is sadly lacking in anything spiritual. From what I have read in the lyrics to their new cd, they don’t even mention the Lord, much less sing about His faithfulness, love, mercy, or grace. Their songs are mainly focused on guy-girl relationships and they don’t seem to have a healthy view of those. “Hold On” appears to be their most positive song, encouraging a friend not to give up, regardless of what happens in life. But never is this friend encouraged to seek security and guidance in Jesus.

The most astonishing of them all, however, was the positive review of Aly & AJ’s new cd, Insomniatic. The write-up states: Aly & AJ’s newest release — the follow-up to their gold-selling debut album Into the Rush — features more of this sibling duo’s faith-infused positive pop. Includes the hit “Potential Breakup Song.”

Now, two things from that paragraph stood out to me. First of all, I have heard their first cd and was highly unimpressed, knowing that they are touted as a Christian band. To say that this new cd features more of their faith-infused positive pop seemed doubtful, but I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Then I continued to the next sentence and my jaw dropped as I saw that the flyer for this Christian bookstore is highlighting the fact that this album (for tweens and teens) features a song entitled “Potential Breakup Song.” I was shocked!

In reviewing the lyrics from this new cd, I have become yet more disgusted. Not only does Aly (or AJ) threaten to breakup with her boyfriend because he forgot her birthday, but other songs mention having a boyfriend that says things that make her uncomfortable and yet encouraging him to keep doing it, saying it will be their secret, telling a guy that he shouldn’t be flattered by her attention because he’s not the first that she’s given it to, encouraging a boy to flirt with her to get her interested in him, asking him to move closer and “maybe try a little kiss” until she’s “into him crazy.”

It saddens me that this is the type of music that so many kids are listening to these days, but it sickens me that this stuff is now being peddled to them by those who should be encouraging them in their walk with the Lord. These sort of lyrics are the kind that will drag teenagers into relationships they’re not ready for, rather than drawing toward the One relationship that truly matters.

Page 19 of this flyer features a book titled “What Your Daughter Isn’t Telling You.” The write-up states: This book is filled with real-life emails from teen girls that will give parents a new perspective on issues like family relationships, trust, dating, sex, alcohol and much more.

Our society is corrupted and will continue to sink into depravity until Jesus returns but isn’t it just possible that this sort of book would less likely be needed if the church weren’t promoting secular ideas and essentially telling our kids that lifestyles that aren’t in line with the Word of God are okay?

I encourage you to please consider removing these cd’s, and other cd’s and books like them, from your product line, and to replace them with more worthwhile literature and lyrics. As it says in Phillipians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

And, lest you think I am an 85-year-old grandmother who is simply “out of touch” with the times, I would like to let you know that I am only 23. As a dance teacher I’m well aware of what our kids are listening to these days, but I don’t believe they should be getting the “okay” on this sort of music from churches, Christian bookstores, and other places of “spiritual influence.”

Thank you for your time and your attention to this matter. I will be praying for your staff as you pray over this situation.

Blessings,
Rebekah Bentley

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Entry filed under: Devotions and Thoughts, Femininity, Life, Media.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Odale  |  September 21, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Very good!! Thank you for standing up for Jesus! Older people rant about these things but to come from a young person makes a different kind of impact! Amazing what money can do to people/companies…
    God Bless You and Guide You In All Ways, Always.

    Reply
  • 2. Rebecca  |  September 22, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Good for you!

    Reply
  • 3. Meredith  |  September 22, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    I just got the Family Christian Stores catalog in the mail today and was also surprised that they would be including secular cd’s. Your letter was much-needed and very professional!! I will be interested to see their next catalog and if they (hopefully) make any changes. 🙂

    Reply
  • 4. Erin  |  September 23, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Good on you for standing up for Christian values.
    There is one main Christian bookstore near where I live and we go there to buy a book for the children in our sunday school classes for Christmas. I always have to make sure I read the book cover to cover before I buy it. I would do that anyway, but the amount of books I put back and don’t buy is starting to be more than the ones I think are okay to give to my sunday school kids. We shouldn’t have to have that problem at a Christian book store.

    Reply
  • 5. David Crocker  |  September 24, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    I am a Christian father and have two daughters, ages 8 and 11. We listen to the Disney Channel on the radio all the time, are big fans of both High School Musicals, and just attended the Jonas Brothers/Everlife concert yesterday at the Puyallup Fair in Seattle, Washington. We are also very active at our children’s Christian school (I lead the chapel there every week).

    These artists that are listed in your letter are ones that, while not blatantly presenters of Christian music, do present themselves in a wholesome way and don’t seem to hide their faith. I would much rather go to a Christian bookstore to buy a Jonas Brother’s CD for my kids than to walk through the CD section of my local Target.

    I think that God created many humans to have the ability to create music, art, dance and many other creative forms. Why not celebrate what he has created? Is the bookstore blurring the lines? Maybe…..but on the other hand….they are honoring a wholesome industry (at least for the moment) that creates a wonderful option for us parents and our kids who enjoy pop music. The music is fun and happy and the artists do not back down when asked about their faith.

    Just yesterday we watched Everlife sing an acapella hymn during their concert. There were about 8,000 screaming kids there and the singing of that hymn made a distinct statement to all who attended. I think this is especially crucial in that the Jonas Brothers are so popular right now that they will now head out on tour to open up for Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. What an opportunity.

    How great would it be if every night 8,000 kids were left with a clear impression that God is the center of these artists lives? I’m not saying that Miley Cyrus is a Christian (I don’t know either way) but the presence at her concerts of the Jonas Brother’s and the faith that they have is a major event. The tweens in our country can’t go anywhere near a blog or website about the Jonas Brothers before finding out that these three young men are sons of a Nazarene pastor, or that they attended a Christian high school, or that they gave their lives to Jesus. I think it’s incredible that these young believers are leaders of the tween pack that has taken the music industry by storm over the last couple of years. I would offer that this is a much better option than the Jonas Brother’s opening for Britney Spears.

    Here’s something else to think about…..also in attendance at the concert yesterday was Kenny Ortega, the director of High School Musical. Why he was there I don’t know….but he was. I can only imagine what he learned yesterday about God. I think it would be sad if he learned that the Jonas Brothers were kicked out of Christian bookstores because the music in and of itself is not Christian. I wonder what sort of witness that gives to Kenny. I also wonder what would happen if a man of his talents were to be led to the Lord through young men like the Jonas Brothers. What kind of impact could he have?

    In some ways, I think it’s important and valuable for the Jonas Brothers and other artists to normalize relationship with God. What I saw yesterday made God much more approachable and real. So much of what kids see are stereotypes of unbalanced or weird Christians. They need to see what a real Christian looks like and to learn that being a Christian is something that is normal and not weird. What does it say to non-Christians if we throw the products of our ‘own’ out the door?

    Please know that in our home we also invest heavily in Christian artists such as Rebecca St. James and others. I’m not looking for a particular balance….I think that draws way too much attention to it. Why not just embrace that which is good and wholesome and make it part of normal, everyday lives?

    There’s a greater argument also, in that some people tend to think that if a song doesn’t contain Christian lyrics that it’s ‘non-Christian’. I subscribe to the belief that God created music and he created holiness and he created wholesomeness. He also created love and fun and joy. If a Christian records a song about love….I don’t think that suddenly makes the song ‘non-Christian’. Could I suggest that maybe a song about love could be a song honoring God, even if it’s not sung by a Christian or does not contain particularly Christian lyrics? Is Monet’s Waterlillies a non-Christian painting but Michaelangelo’s Sisteen Chapel is? They are both beautiful creations made by a child of the creator. What if a Christian bookstore decided to sell greeting cards that had a picture of Monet’s Waterlillies on the front yet Christian words inside? Would that make the greeting cards inappropriate? What about Michaelangelo’s paintings that weren’t blatantly Christian? Should they be turned out?

    On another note…we Christians come across to non-Christians as way too judge-mental. I guess I would rather hear a person like Kenny Ortega say to his friends over at Disney “Guess what the Christians did? They like these kids music so much they are selling it in their stores.” I would rather hear that instead of “Guess what the Christians did? They kicked the Jonas Brothers out of their store….there they go again.”

    I can understand why seeing those items for sale would be a concern but I think the greater good outweighs the concern by a substantial margin. So, in answer to your question of “What are we teaching our children?” I think we’re teaching them about joy, fun, happiness and great wholesome music. I think we’re teaching them that it’s okay and ‘cool’ to be Christians and to be unashamed of our faith. I think we’re teaching them that God created music and joy and fun and that life is to be celebrated. I think we’re teaching them that God probably enjoys the song “Year 3000” by the Jonas Brother’s as much as we do.

    Reply
  • 6. Elisabeth  |  September 24, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Very good, Rebecca!
    Please let us know if they reply to your letter! I’d be interested to hear if they do anything about those CD’s.

    Reply
  • 7. Victoria  |  January 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Are you saying that the Jonas Brothers are nonsense and thereforth be removed from all Christian bookstores? Aside from the fact they are my favorite band in the world, there are more then millions of teens who adore them, and thousands that are Christians like me. Add the fans of High School Musical and Aly & Aj, and you have well over billions of fans. Do you honestly expect anyone to remove their CDs, thereforth decreasing their daily profits by more then one half? Since mostly teenagers and young kids are targeted, they try to fit the store to the wants of the children. Just put it this way: Would a teenager rather buy a CD by their favorite band, or a CD about God/Jesus? Over ninety percent of adults shopping in a Christian bookstore are shopping for their neice/nephew or daughter/son, so they’d most likely be left with less then ten customers a day. I don’t think they’d want to go out of business, so they’ll probably reject your letter. You raise a somewhat good point, but think about what the children want, not what you want. I do think that Christian Bookstores should be related to the Christian category, but I understand why they have non-related CDs. They probably want more customers to visit their store, increasing their profits. Think about what I said, and e-mail me your reply. Thank You.

    Victoria
    ViCt0RiUHH@yahoo.com

    Reply
  • 8. Mother  |  January 30, 2008 at 2:01 am

    What is missed is the sin of ‘drivel.’ Just because music or any other media is devoid of the obvious sinful elements, does not mean that it is acceptable for Christians to spend their time on. So many things that are not blatantly sinful are blatantly mindless. As Paul said, ‘All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not’ (1 Cor 10:23). If any activity is not moving a person toward a closer relationship with Christ, what IS it doing?

    Reply

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