Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton and His Band, MidLife Crisis, Rock Pepperdine

Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton performs with his band MidLife Crisis at Pepperdine. Screen capture from YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q_fyO8m0ug)

Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton performs with his band MidLife Crisis at Pepperdine. Screen capture from YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q_fyO8m0ug)

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)

how not to worship

as many know, i have no problem with making one’s worship service relevant. likewise, i do feel that modern manifestations of corporate worship need to be open to change and movement away from the same ol’ ‘three songs and a prayer’ worship to which many have become accustomed. additionally, most know that i am all about opening any belief up to discussion and critical examination in order educate others and understand why some people believe what they believe. we must regularly examine every claim to determine whether certain claims and traditions are worth maintaining.

that said, there is a part of what has come to be called ’emergent’ church – particularly with regard to what passes for ‘worship’ these days – that i protest. let’s set aside the highly problematic theological chum that is thrown to the eager audiences that are typically neither educated about the text or context of the bible, nor the practical manifestation in one’s life of what the text actually says.

case in point: ’emergent’ worship. the only thing more nauseating than watching people worship like this is attempting to strip the instrumental music out of it and sing it in an a cappella setting. it’s bad enough to watch this overly dramatic, substance-lacking drivel on its own. it’s even more difficult to watch some attempt to force this into an a cappella woship service. it’s enough to want to make one swear off modern christian pop music altogether in favor of primus and damien rice.

but now, finally, someone has done us the service of making a video that illustrates all that is wrong about the modern worship process. give me substance. give me debate. give me coordinated opportunities to serve. but do not, under any circumstance, give me this, uneducated, substance-lacking, pop psychological, overly emotional, guilt-exploiting, desperate attempt to make up for a lack of leadership and theological understanding by popularizing worship. i’m not saying i like boring, old-fashioned, ‘the way we’ve always done it’ services either, but lights, amps, and long, dramatic pauses do not cover up the long term effects brought about by lack of substance and relevance that a deeply held understanding of one’s faith and commitment to service to others brings.

the more christianity resembles a bad pop concert, the less truly relevant it will be come in the lives of people.

with that, here’s how not to worship:

n.b. the best part of the video is the hebrew tattoo, which unlike mine, says: vayhi, which means, ‘and it came to pass…’

this cracked me up because the same letters (yod, heh, and waw) are used to spell the divine name, thus adding to the mockery by implying that most people who get hebrew tattoos don’t actually know how to read the hebrew on their arm. so people trying to put the name of god on their arm end up with ‘and it came to pass…’

and for the record, ויהי is the qal imperfect (waw consecutive) third masculine singular apocopated of the hebrew verb היה meaning ‘to be’ and thus translating to: ‘and it was’ or ‘and it came to pass…’)

(withholding public hat tip until given permission to post who actually sent this to me, but you know who you are. thanx!)

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