I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move.

Category: Satire

Contemporary Christian Music Industry Attains Incarnational Presence in Nation’s Elevators After Decades-Long Effort

Nashville, TN—The leading trade association for contemporary Christian music announced today that, after decades of relentless effort, they have finally succeeded in developing musical style appropriate to the elevator context.

Spokesperson Randall Jennings spoke from the headquarters of the recently renamed Christian Muzak Trade Association.

“The church has always had an incarnational presence in the world of music,” Jennings noted. “But times have changed. If you look at where the lost actually are, they’re not in music halls, or in cathedrals, [or in venues that assign the least importance to artistic merit]. They’re in elevators.”

“People are in elevators every day,” Jennings observes. “We’re using that cultural space to expose people to the Gospel at every level of society—literally.”

Contemporary Christian musicians have struggled for decades to produce the simple and inoffensive jingles that could gain them access to the exclusive world of elevator music. They view that presence as a key to Christian witness.

“Time was, you could rely on the church organist to reach people,” said Jennings, in apparent reference to such predecessors in cultural engagement as Johann Sebastian Bach. “These days, people don’t go for it. They want the least offensive and innovative music possible. They want the record executives to go out there and find the easy music for them. [And then they need it to be simplified again before it’s played on the radio.]”

The industry’s efforts have not been without criticism, however. “Some people have a real problem with Christian music being played alongside of [stripped down instrumental versions of] Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, or even Adele,” Jennings admits. “But isn’t that exactly where we need to be reaching people?”

A commitment to the elevator music genre has also meant that not everyone has found a place in the industry. That’s something that Seattle-based recording artist Josh Michaels has learned the hard way. Following a promising debut, his career faltered several years ago, after he included a fourth chord in his sophomore album.

“I guess it was a lesson in understanding what [recording executives say] audiences really want,” Michaels now says. “In my new album, I’m definitely sticking to just three chords. It’s actually mostly just pentatonic now.”

It’s too soon to tell whether Michaels can achieve his sought-after redemption in the industry, but optimistic observers have noted with approval his recent embrace of the synthesizer.

At CMTA headquarters, Jennings made clear that they won’t be resting on their laurels. “We’re not solidly established in elevators, but we’re not stopping there. We’ve hopes to make it into dentist’s waiting rooms. And one day, you might even hear Christian music when you’re on hold with the cable company. Onward and upward.”

The idea for this if-not-outright-meanspirited-then-certainly-close article came to me as I was enjoying Josh Garrel‘s wonderful new Christmas album, The Light Came Down (especially tracks 13 and 14), wondering how such a talented musician could not have a wider following. Best of luck to Josh and all the others out there pursuing music and discipleship to Christ in parallel!

Speculation Grows About Unspoken Prayer Request

WINONA LAKE, IN — Speculation regarding the nature of Michael Armstrong’s unspoken prayer request, which has made repeatedly over the several months, is reaching fever pitch, sources within his small group say.

“At first, I figured it was pornography,” says Sarah Hawkins, 26, a fellow group member. “Now, I’m beginning to wonder whether he’s dealing with same-sex attraction.”

Armstrong, 28, by nature a modest and reserved man, works in the financial services sector. He says he enjoys the fellowship and prayer support that his small group provides. Yet in spite of his endorsements of ‘vulnerability’ and ‘authenticity’, he has less than forthcoming with information about this unspoken request. This has led some members to suspect more nefarious goings on.

“Mike doesn’t give much away,” says Cassandra Davis, 29. “He’s very careful about what he divulges.” An important moment for Davis is when Armstrong is reported to have said, “It’s a situation that the Lord needs to speak into”—a statement she says was clearly designed to avoid admitting culpability. “That’s when it hit me: he’s got to be involved in some kind of embezzling at work.”

Group member John Fredrickson, 34, also suspects criminal wrongdoing. “Mike went to school out of state, and then he did an internship he never really talks about,” says Fredrickson. “I figure he must have gotten involved with the mafia in those years. Maybe not as an enforcer, but I could definitely see him as a mule. Maybe money laundering.”

According to people present at the meeting, discussion stopped immediately when the sound of a flushing toilet announced Armstrong’s imminent return to the room.

“Hey guys, what are we reading for next week?” he is reported to have said.

Sources confirmed that Armstrong’s sister and brother-in-law will be initiating divorce proceedings early next month.

Controversy as the meaning of shalom expands to the breaking point

Geneva, Switzerland — The World Council of Churches announced today that an increasing range of meanings has pushed the word shalom (שׁלום) “to the breaking point.” The announcement follows the recommendation of a study group to include “access to a smart phone or equivalent tablet device” to the accepted legal definition of shalom.

The scope of the Hebrew word has been increased several times in recent years. In 2002 the WCC described shalom as, “a place in which there is free wireless internet for all, most especially for the marginalized, e.g., people in airports with long layovers.” A 2006 publication added that “shalom an only be found in a carbon-neutral economy.”

Scholars have long accepted that shalom means not just peace, but also the social conditions that lead to peace; at the individual, family, clan, tribal, ethnic, national, and international levels; especially with regard to the just distribution of natural resources and social services; the provisions for equal participation in society irrespective of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation, handedness, hair color, eye color, skin color, parenting style, level of education, or personality type.

Notable 20th-century expansions include the wholesale incorporation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights into the concept shalom of in 1948, and the 1969 expansion to include the satisfaction watching the one’s parents play with their grandchildren, the flavor of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, and the good feeling one gets from using a Q-Tip™.

Theologians are saying that the present controversy is the greatest challenge for shalom since 1988, when a working group proposed a definition of shalom that included the ability to define the word shalom once and for all. The proposal created an infinite feedback loop, and the committee has not yet been able to report back to the main assembly.

Practical difficulties over of the scope of the Semitic noun have been apparent since at least the first century of the Common Era, when Jesus of Nazareth greeted his follows with, “Peace be with you” (Grk. Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν; prp Heb. שׁלום עליךָ), leaving an awkward silence as His followers considered the full implications of His greeting.

WCC General Secretary Olav Tveit compared the present crisis to the definition of shalom created as a condition in the 1979 Camp David Accords, which defined shalom simultaneously as the existence of a sovereign Palestinian state covering the whole of Israeli territory, and the existence of an Israeli state covering the whole of Palestinian territory.

“We can’t just update the definition whenever we all get a new device,” said Tveit. “That does not make for shalom.” Some observers link these comments to the retrospectively embarrassing periods in the 1970s and 1980s, when access to respectively an 8-track and a pager were considered to be necessary preconditions for shalom.

The representative of the Unitarian delegation demanded acceptance of the newly proposed expansion, accusing Tveit of saying, “shalom, shalom where there is no shalom.”

In a show of unity, the Council defeated a proposal to amend the definition of shalom to include a reference to the Almighty (344–1; 2 abstaining).

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