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I’m not a big fan of Contemporary Christian music. The whole concept of art exclusively for Christians really baffles me. Usually the art is subpar and the message feels forced.

Praise and Worship music is even worse. The songs are written more out function than anything else, which is a really terrible way to make art. We end up singing words we don’t mean and never confronting the great amount of disillusionment Christianity often brings to us.

I’d much rather hear musicians who are Christians make music that is true of their experience of life and the community they worship with. Here are four bands or musicians that do exactly that.

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Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

I’m fairly frequently asked, “But am I truly worshipping God if I can’t say with one hundred percent confidence that the words I’m singing are true of my life in the moment?”

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I bought my first Derek Webb album, She Must and Shall Go Free, as a senior in High School in 2003. The introspective honesty of songs like Wedding Dress and Crooked Deep Down was new to me, both from Christians and from music. From there Derek Webb’s music continued to challenge me, as well as countless others, helping young disillusioned Christians by letting them know they were not alone. At first he challenged evangelicalism with She Must and Shall Go Free and I See Things Upside Dowl, then the religious right with Mockingbird, The Ringing Bell and Stockholm Syndrome. No other musician, with the possible exception of Bob Dylan, has had such an impact on my politics, theology, ethics, and philosophy as Derek Webb. His latest release, Ctrl, is, it seems, a return to challenging his listeners religiously.

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I’m having to take a break right now from work and my blog and almost everything in my life. I keep finding comfort in the words of Rich Mullins in this video about how much God loves us.

There is, in my opinion, nothing more to know about life than how much God loves me. This doesn’t mean I have nothing else to learn, but that everything I learn continues to point to this great and inescapable fact that I can not be separated from God and that God will not be separated from me. We can spend the whole of our life learning this and never finish learning it. The love of God is frightening, comforting, challenging, and restful.

mewithoutYou is one of my favorite bands. Aaron Weiss’ spoken word vocals and their willingness to explore some dark themes give them a unique post-hardcore sound that I just can’t get enough of. Their last album, It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright, alienated a lot of fans with its lighter sound and children’s stories about foxes and beetles. Ten Stories, which is released today, returns to the sound of past albums while holding on to the animal motif. Ten Stories tells the story of a circus train crash made up of several stories told by circus animals.

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