The reply to my last email to Brian Mayes, the man behind Christian Music Makeover, was rather shorter than I expected:
Thanks for all of your interest. Check out the site when it launches in
January – I believe all of your questions will be answered.
I was disappointed with this response, to say the least. The interest these blog entries have generated suggests I’m not the only one with deep concerns about this initiative. It may be that as Brian says, the yet-to-be-launched website will answer my questions, but it’s a shame that conversation couldn’t continue.
So I guess with the conversation apparently at an end, this is the appropriate forum to respond to some of the comments in Brian’s last email (quoted in full here).
He may be right that I overstated my argument against reality TV music shows. But at the same time, while Kelly Clarkson has demonstrated a knack for performing an above average pop song, none of the winners mentioned has yet demonstrated that they have anything particularly novel to bring to the music world, anything that seeks (to quote my last email to Brian) “to create for the sake of fostering conversation or producing something beautiful.” All of this, however, missed my original point that the press release that triggered all this refers only to “the physical” and “the spiritual”, not “the artistic”.
My core concern remains that the concept of a ‘spiritual makeover’ smacks of a dangerously thin theology. It may be that the show and its website will better unpack this theology than a short press release can, but that does not free those writing press releases of all responsibility. Spirituality is an intensely personal thing that reaches to the core of a person’s being, something that we explore and express in community. It is not a commodity to be flaunted, or to be “made over” in public. The press release indicated that the producers of this show think otherwise, and I’m beginning to find it hard to find words for how sad that is.
As to watching the show, that’s one thing I know I won’t be doing. I took some time yesterday to listen to Daniel’s Window (they offer some tracks through their site) and had to stop the player midway through each song. The tracks feature on that website are a sure demonstration of the CCM industry’s ability to take a few ideas that worked well when initially tried, mash them together, and coat them in sugar while surgically removing personality. Not recommended.