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Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The Shout heard round the World. (i.e. American Idol goes Worship)

Today I received a stunning rebuke from my friend and mentor, Maxie Dunnam, concerning my American Idol post last week. Yo dogs. Check this out. He rebuked some of you too. Gotta love Maxie.

Dear J.D....Don't think I don't read your blog, but my friend

You strained at a knat and swallowed a camel in your blog about AI.
Interestingly, the responses you got so far pick up on your cynicism, and
join you in it. Isn't it an absurb stretch to compare this singing on AI
to having a stripper read scripture? You are over-sophisticating your
response to reach an over-sophisticated audience. Don't you think that
the value of "shouting aloud to the Lord", maybe by people who don't know
what it means to sound and look "holy" , has a value to the millions of
people who heard it? Don't you think just the mention of the name Jesus on
such a venue got the attention of folks who have not heard his name in a
long time. If we don't call his name "even the stones will cry out"
Could this be the stones crying? Don't you think the value of this coming
in this venue far exceeds the cynical response of a few people like you
compared to the possibility of a positive response from some of the
millions who heard it?

I have to say, also, that most of the responses I read sound rather
contrived.., wanting to respond positively to someone they respect so
much..Omar for instance and his "swaying" reference...and the guy who
thought somebody may be trying to reach and get money from the evangelical
wing of the audience. And as it relates to who they might have been
singing to...it didn't look and sound too different than what I experience
in much of the worship where songs like these are the mainstays.

Ouch Elliot! How about that? Any rebuttals?

I did find quite interesting this string of posts from Josh Harris, who has some inside scoop on Fox's production room. It's quite fascinating. Read his earlier two posts as well-- esp the one from Huffington.

I also appreciated Bob Kauflin's treatment of the issue on his blog, Worship Matters.
posted by John David Walt | at 4/15/2008 02:01:00 PM



Blogger Julie said...

I have to say that my initial response to the singing of "Shout to the Lord" on AI was a positive one. No matter the motives of those that sang, etc...it was the right choice for that night. I have never been able to shake the fact that worship and service are one (literally - in Hebrew and Greek) and this seemed to capture that. At the very least, perhaps this choice of song caused an awakening in some people as it did me. It reminded me that my whole life is an act of worship/service to God and I would do well to "Shout to the Lord" with my life. Plus, the name of Jesus was heard by millions in conjunction with service. We, as Christians, unfortunately often fail to connect the two. Instead, we see something like this and question the motives, divorcing ourself from our own responsibilities: love God, love people (worship, service).

All of that to say that I understand where you're both (JD and Maxie) coming from on this. I probably resonate more with Maxie's "rebuke", but I think all of it is worthwhile conversation. :)

2:44 PM EDT  
Blogger brandon said...

Nice. Thanks for posting this JD. I gotta say I don't watch AI and the first time I saw this clip was on Farmstrong. I never got on the AI wagon. For what it's worth though, I did think that the singers looked uncomfortable singing Shout to the Lord, and that made things awkward.

My thoughts are, I like that Maxie picked up on the stripper comment. I smiled all the way through reading this post. Thank you for sharing.

Makes me want to be more careful about what I post. You never know who might be reading, and that is convicting. Glad you are back.

3:54 PM EDT  
Blogger chad said...

I really think that this feeling that many of us had was not wrong. While I understand Dr. Dunham's idea of "the rocks crying out", I don't think it applies to this...the earth is fully aware of the glory of God had feels the affect of our fall.

It is only the redeemed who have this knowledge of God. These are powerful words, and yes, it might be touching to a person who is guided to download the song and then is led to Jesus.

But I think many of us were worried about 2 things.

1. The over-commercialization of worship as made evident in the song choice of American Idol.

2. The only way to know that there is "none like the lord" is to truly know him. Without this knowledge this is just a catchy song.

4:38 PM EDT  
Blogger Omar said...

Ouch... Maxie called me out by name, too.

At least I know he still loves me :)

4:55 PM EDT  
Blogger Jamey said...

wow. . .that's got to hurt. I too was very cynical about it--feeling like people simultaneously were worshipping Jesus and the idols during these presentations.

But kudo's to Maxie and Beverly from Fox as well. How does it look to the world when the media is singing about Jesus and the church complains?

I think in response, we ought to start a Christian version of A.I. (of course I'm completely kidding about this last comment and if someone actually does this I'll start a blog to complain about it).

10:41 PM EDT  
Blogger Kendra said...

What the rocks would cry out is not simply the name of Jesus, but His praise. For unbelievers to speak a name without worship behind it does not equate with the rocks crying out in pronouncement of God's Messiah entering Jerusalem (Luke 19:40). Recognition of Jesus as the fulfillment of God's promise is a far cry from empty praise. It is a pronouncement of faith, even if a weak understanding of what the Messiah was entering Jerusalme to do. They, and even the rocks, recognized that this man was God's promised one. They may not have understood fully his work on the cross yet, but they recognized God's presence with him. I can't agree that the rocks crying out and the use of the song on AI ar both revolving around faith proclomation. If we have been saved by grace through faith, then faith is an essential element in helping others to see and understand life with God. I desire to challenge myself and them to what Biblically is central to sharing Christ to the world. Many speak his name outside of faith every day. Do I similarly rejoice?

I am grateful for those who heard the name of Jesus on AI and for those whose praise was sincere. I celebrate with those who had the opportunity to see this come to fruition in their work - because it all leads to face to face conversations where a person of faith can share about life with God. But I also want to measure well what I ingest from my culture and how we carry God's name. I give my own life the same scrutiny AND dependence on God's grace that I use in seeing my world.

Mr. Walt, please do not assume that Masie is coorect in my motives for responding to you, wanting to please you and not firstly concerned about what matters to God. I understood your illustration in its sense of contrast. I do see, now, the language was strong and easily offensive. I was not originally offended by it, so I will let his personal confrontation on that bit stand for what it is.

Maxie, brother, your mode of confrontation reflected back to this blog the same cynicism and generalizations that seemed so offensive to you in the first place (less the stripper bit, of course). I appreciate your boldness and to see a brother's counter argument. Thank you for speaking up. But I do not appreciate my efforts being labeled "over-sophisticated," "contrived" and "cynical" when I am trying to weight and measure the way I see my peers and myself handling what is meant to be for God.

11:45 PM EDT  
Anonymous b/ said...

I have to agree with the two dissenters in that I'm not so certain Maxie's thoughts completely on target. Let me say wow to questioning the commenters motives. Certainly a good way to get more feedback.

I don't know either of you, so attempting to impress anyone would do me no good. The counter-argument was certainly appreciated as we should always desire our thoughts to be challenged in order to know why and what we believe

As to the arguments, I don't think that the rocks crying out analogy fits here. I am a lead worshiper and am also frustrated by the over-commercialization of the "worship market."

I think in this case (though I will admit up front that the argument is not completely perfect) Philippians is a closer analogy. "Whether false motives or true, Christ is preached, and because of this I rejoice."

I find it difficult to rejoice with American Idol or people uncomfortable with singing this song, but at least the name was put forth and in a way it was "preached," in that a message of one King receiving the praise was given.

These are my thoughts.

11:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Refreshingly naive is what I would say to anyone who doesn't think that in a period of time in which demographic studies sway the marketing and presentation of everything from chewing gum to new church starts that AI wasn't reaching out to an evangelical audience.

From the guy who did the initial comparison on this post.

There are manifold reason's beyond personal cynicism to be concerned about this issue.

If we affirm the notion that just the mention of Jesus name to so wide of an audience is value enough.

What about the person's who hear it and in them kindles a negative response?

How might the very mention of Jesus in post modern media being synonymous with Gnosticism? And how this very post modern gnosticism has twisted the message of the Gospel in such a way that Jesus is no longer seen as divine or savior but just another famous person for peace?

When we decide to shoot wide we are taking a chance to hit everything any way possible. Which can lead to numerous responses that we will be responsible for in the end.

I confess to being cynical and its not out of any desire to "respond to someone I respect" It is out of a desire to seek out the truth. Yes it is something I need to confess and so I have, however it is something to have a conversation about and that is what a blog should inspire, sophisticated or otherwise.

11:17 AM EDT  
Anonymous bslash said...


11:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Marcus G said...


But because of point 4 of your previous blog: every pastor should blog in order to interact. Not because they are perfect.

All our thoughts and teachings are better thought and taught when shared and reflected. That goes for you, it goes for me, it goes for Maxie.

My only disagreement with this posting is the ending: I'd not want you to tone anything down, so long as we all understand we live by grace and long to know more of it, and find the love of Jesus in each other and seek to offer that which we find as generously as we can.

All these comments suggest the interacting is going fine. I love it, and if you question your wisdom, that's fine too - every teacher should. My folk make me do it every time I open my mouth to remove my foot.

2:26 PM EDT  
Anonymous john page said...

Been a long time since I visited farmstrong...and the day I do, you blogged on the same topic I did at Godthoughts. The conversation there was basically that it was great that the song was sung before such a large audience because who knows what God can do through that. One person thought it was inappropriate.

Gee, I didn't know Maxie D could throw down like that....yikes!

4:23 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love your blog! keep working w/ tomlin too!

4:41 PM EDT  
Anonymous Scott L said...

I love it. Maxie not only watches AI but he also reads blogs and has a facebook page. If he quotes something from The Soup then he's beyond chancellor in my book.

7:41 PM EDT  
Blogger masons said...

i don't have anything to add but just wanted to give you a nod for putting yourself out there.
It takes a lot of courage to share your wounds.
what conversation

welcome back.

8:39 PM EDT  
Blogger JohnDeere said...

ok friends. thanks for all the interaction. farmstrong is back. and maxie is king! ;-) i just can't believe noone called him out for misspelling gnat. ;-0

9:17 PM EDT  
Blogger Kendra said...

I wrote this a couple of months ago, as I was wrestling with the same things I did when this recent AI conversation came up. Internal wrestling with His greatness and the effects of sin. Desiring to respond, to act, to help in my own generation...a vascilation between conviction and repulsion and desperation for Him.


Covering removed.
A generation exposed
Howls at the moon.

Cover us, Lord.
Gather us in.
Your robe to shelter,
Foster life therein.

No boundaries drawn.
A generation distracted
Revels 'til Christ's dawn.

Cover us, Lord.
Draw us near.
Holiest of Holies,
Fill our eyes with tears.

Glory through word and deed.
A generation humbled
Buttresses a revolution of redeemed.

9:37 PM EDT  
Blogger DGH said...

yeah, I still think it was cheese! I know that my generation can sense "fake" a mile off, and our "cheesedar's" were pinging all over the place. We desire authenticity, and it seemed a little too much like a seeker service that is trying to hard to get normal people into a worship setting. sorry, but it is still a little too Velvetta for me.

10:26 PM EDT  

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