I’m Too Cool For Chris Tomlin: And Other Ridiculous Ways To Be Cool In Church


Sometimes I turn up a Chris Tomlin album at full blast in my car and sing “Famous One” for the ten-thousandth time and then I start to feel bad because I know it’s bubble-gum Christianese sugar-pop and it’s not real Christian music.

Well that’s what they tell me.  Tomlin and Redman and Stanfill are my secret guilty pleasures, so when I get to church, I turn down the volume and tell myself it was just a one-drive stand.  It’s not like my feelings were involved or anything.

Except — why should I feel this way? 

Why can’t I enjoy sugary Christian praise?

Who are these people that determine how I sing to God?

I had to quit caring about this.  I don’t want to defend my Tomlin-crush to some snooty theology snob who makes me feel like a sell-out whenever I buy into the “conspiracy machine of music, man.” 

If someone makes me feel bad for enjoying something harmless, that’s what Jesus called a stuck-up Pharisee.  I’m tired of imprisoning myself in more guilt to appease someone else’s preferences. I go to church partially to get rid of this asinine judging, not to have more layers of it.

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Challenge The Construct

We often buy into social constructs and normative paradigms without really thinking through to the bottom of them. Where did we learn to date and spend money and raise children and achieve success? How many layers have we added upon pure religion and intimate relationships? How many of our routine actions are merely preprogrammed distinctions that are actually detrimental to our own well-being?

Do not ignore the burning needle in your heart that knows something is wrong here. We believe more lies than we think. Do not simply fall in line with the system. Ask questions, challenge the status quo. Do not condemn others based on your singular window of isolated culture. Stand up to tribalism and tradition without disrespecting the merits therein. Think for yourself on these things. Do not simply think outside the box, but create a world that does not need them. Be grounded enough to stumble with others; be free enough to fly with them.

— J.S.