Pepperdine University has been rocked by a MidLife Crisis – the band that is. Pepeprdine President Andrew K. Benton and his MidLife Crisis band mates, Jeff Pippin, Chris Stivers, Reber Carroll, and Logan Carroll performed at the President’s Brock House mansion last September, 2009, and professionally edited videos of the event are now available for public viewing on YouTube. It was a great performance and students appeared to have a great time as demonstrated by the large number of them dancing during the performance. (And if you can get kids to dance these days, you’ve got to be doing something right.)
You can watch videos of the set list on rrcarrol’s YouTube Channel.
Songs include “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World (original video here):
“Fire” by Jimi Hendrix (original song with lyrics here):
and “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby (original live performance here):
Let me state clearly that I fully support President Benton’s participation in a band (in fact, I wish I could play that well), and I love his band’s choice of songs. President Benton’s band was true to the original on their version of Jimmy Eats World’s The Middle (original here), and Jeff Pippin absolutely nailed the solo during Jimi Hendrix’ Fire (original here).
It is worth pointing out, however, that there are some in the Churches of Christ who would object, quite strenuously in fact, to these same instruments, same voices, and this same amplification equipment being used to sing songs about God. For some reason, using these instruments and voices to sing lyrics like Jimi Hendrix’ classic line, “You say your mom ain’t home, it ain’t my concern. Just don’t play with me, and you won’t get burned. I have only one itching desire: Let me stand next to your fire,” on the campus of Pepperdine University is wholly good and acceptable (and even a little bit rockin’), but using these same instruments and voices and microphones in a worship setting to sing praises to God and about God is somehow heretical and displeasing to God.
I fail to comprehend this so-called logic. Allow me to clarify the position of those who oppose the use of instrumental music in worship:
- Play guitar to Jimi Hendrix = good
- Play guitar to God = bad
- Play piano during “The Way It is” = permissible
- Play piano during “I’m Going That Way” = not permissible
- Pep Band play in Firestone Fieldhouse during basketball game = scriptural
- Simply play recorded instrumental music before worship service in Firestone Fieldhouse = not scriptural
- Play piano in Raitt Recital Hall or Brock House or Elkins Auditorium anytime during the week except Sunday from 10:15 to 11:30 am = OK
- Play piano in Elkins Auditorium on Sunday from 10:15 to 11:30 am = Not OK
I don’t know about you, but I find that argument hovering somewhere between hypocritical and indefensible. How is using these talents and tools for fun and dancing at the Pepperdine President’s mansion permissible “under the law,” but using these same talents and tools to honor God not allowable “under the law”? Go figure. I don’t understand why some would venture to make this obviously strained argument.
When someone can adequately explain this argument to me (with a straight face), I’ll stop raising the issue. Until such a time as this, I shall continue to raise the issue of why instrumental music is not permitted by the Elders of the University Church if Christ in Malibu during worship services.
I call upon the Elders of the University Church of Christ in Malibu to host a public forum on the topic of the occasional use of instrumental music in worship, and invite all student, faculty, and staff members to participate at a convenient time when all can be present and voice their opinions.
Until then, I thank President Benton and his band, MidLife Crisis, for continuing to bring rockin’ instrumental music to Pepperdine!!
Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D. (UCLA)
Filed under: church of christ, theology Tagged: | andrew k. benton, band, Bruce Hornsby, Chris Stivers, elders, Fire, instrumental music, Jeff Pippin, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Eat World, Logan Carroll, malibu, MidLife Crisis, musical instruments, pepperdine university, Reber Carroll, The Middle, The Way It Is, University Church of Christ, worship, youtube