In the latest Cephas Hour installment, things kick off with an unspoken commentary regarding the comparative artistic quality of two recent Kennedy Center visitors. Following this, things get serious.
First, a deeper dive into why the show begins as it does. At one of my former employers, given how it was as corporate world a gig as possible, the pettiness, CYA, and TPC were off the charts. One of my supervisors, who knew the score, was fond of saying, “Don’t piss on my back and tell me you’re helping water my garden.” Brusque, but accurate.
As I referenced here in December 2022, at one time I was a highly active Christian music journalist. During that time, I did a ton of artist interviews. The only one I tried to arrange that never came to be? Amy Grant.
I’ve never met Amy Grant. I’ve never spoken to her. If they carve on my tombstone, “He never interviewed Amy Grant,” somehow I doubt it will affect either my eternal destination or place therein, which I am quite sure is well down on the totem pole. People whose opinions I completely trust inform me that she is a genuinely lovely person. I have nothing against her. Nothing. That said, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts selecting her in 2022 as a lifetime artistic achievements honoree and acknowledging this on the same night as presenting the same honor to U2 … no. Just no.
Love or hate U2? Doesn’t matter. The reality stays the same. U2 has changed the world with its music and commitment to humanitarian causes. U2 has reminded the world that it is possible to be a Christian and maintain artistic credibility. U2 is known and celebrated across the globe.
Amy Grant’s career demonstrated that Christians could make formulaic pop on the same level with a dozen’s dozen’s dozen’s dozen times ten regular artists. And no, I don’t equate “Baby Baby” with “One” or “Pride (In the Name of Love)” or “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” or anything from ‘The Joshua Tree’ album. There is no equivalency between U2 and Amy Grant. The former are legends whose music will live long after its creation. Amy Grant, not so much.
Anyway, here’s the show link plus the text of its commentary sections. I hope it helps.
As I record this show, it is the last day of 2022. I distinctly remember going into this year fervently hoping it would be better than 2021, which was quite the train wreck. Alas, it was not to be, starting with one of my two remaining brothers passing away in January. The hits kept coming from there, leaving me quite glad to leave 2022 in history’s dustbin.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions or “new year — new you” fallacious thinking. The calendar marks nothing other than each day’s passing. What we do with those days, as much as it lies within us, transpires regardless of the name attached to any given month or day.
The prayer is we will approach each day with a mind and heart open to God’s Spirit within us. What has happened is complete and unchangeable. It is what we do with where and who we are now that can move in the right direction.
An expression occasionally heard in sports-oriented conversation is “fake hustle.” Fake hustle’s definition is a player putting on a tremendous show of giving maximum effort in an attempt to disguise they’re not accomplishing anything. An example would be in basketball or football, making a massive display of trying to keep the ball from going out of bounds when the ball is too far on its way out to stop.
We see a lot of this in both the political and religious realms, people creating supposedly bold and controversial entertainment bits when in reality, all they’re doing is preaching to the choir while making their pitch for a generous love offering from the congregation. It looks nice, but it doesn’t accomplish anything. No minds are changed, and there is no movement in people’s hearts. It’s all a show to grow the ego.
This isn’t what life in and for Christ is supposed to be about. Life in Christ is often quiet and undramatic, drawing as little attention to oneself as possible. It is a life of service, not self-proclaimed righteousness. We don’t need social media noisemakers to bring Jesus credibility. We need ourselves living for Him by helping others.
In a former life, I was a music journalist actively covering the contemporary Christian music scene. This was from 1987 to 1994. Seven short years, yet still a lifetime.
I made many friends (and perhaps a few enemies) during that time, writing record reviews in which I occasionally committed the unforgivable sin of giving an honest opinion. I also did several dozen interviews with artists in multiple music genres, talking to pretty much everyone who was anyone as, despite my somewhat frosty relationship with assorted powers that be, I was a good interviewer who put out positive stories showcasing artists in the best possible light.
During my tenure, some interviews have stayed with me more than others, thankfully almost all for good reasons. One interview stands above all others, and bear in mind I had many, many terrific ones. It was with an artist promoting the first, and as it turned out last, album with his band Radiohalo. I was eager to talk to him about the new album, as it had a song I absolutely loved and still love to this day. I was even more eager to talk to him about an album he had recorded years earlier, a worship album titled “The Vigil” heavily influenced by Elizabethan-flavored folk. In the interview, I discovered a man as filled with Christ’s peace as his music indicated. I have been privileged to know many Godly people in my life. But in this man, I met the one who more powerfully radiated serenity and wisdom than any other. His name was, and is, Kemper Crabb.
So thank you, Kemper. You helped make 2022 bearable.
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