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#87 Getting rid of their secular music

posted by Stephanie Drury


There comes a time in every young evangelical’s life when he must roll up his sleeves, raise the black flag, and commence destroying his secular music.

As a young evangelical you arrive at the decision to get rid of your secular music because you feel “convicted.” You have read many articles about whether or not Christians can listen to secular music and the overwhelming consensus is that non-Christian music is not inherently bad, but that even good things like music can be used for bad purposes. This rings true within you somewhere. The secular music you like doesn’t talk just about happy things like Christian music does. Secular music speaks to your pain and longings. Because there is comfort and camaraderie in it you conclude that this music made by people who don’t claim to be Christians is causing you to sin.


Once the conviction about your music is in place the next order of business is deciding how to dispose of it. After deleting your unclean iTunes you have to deal with your CDs and vinyl. Burning them is the classic dramatic method, but Mike Warnke said the fire will turn blue and scream if devil music is being burned and the idea of that is too creepy to risk it actually happening. You could smash it or just throw it away, but if there is a place that will buy back CDs and you are a poor college student then you will skulk to the CD store to sell them while telling yourself that you’re not enabling anyone, if someone wants to get that devil music they will find a way so you might as well get some money for it. The guy in the CD store will say “Wow, how come you’re selling all this back? This is some good stuff.” You blink back tears and once you’re in the parking lot you break down. You refrain from talking about this with anyone so that the ritual will remain sacred and not a means to impress people with your sacrifice, but you are heartbroken. Certain secular lyrics could describe it so well, but you fight to keep them out of your mind. Thinking about them would defeat the purpose of selling your music in the first place.

In 83% of cases, the secular music parted with will be bought back by the evangelical. The risk of repurchasing their secular music is highest among evangelicals who do not like country music or easy-listening, because these genres are mostly considered by Christian culture to be acceptable. An evangelical can listen to these types of music with minimal wounding to her conscience. The highest rates of repurchasing occur within the first six years after purging, with a majority of them identified in the first two years. Treating a secular music penchant with Hillsong United and Carman is associated with the highest rates of secular music repurchasing.



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RodeoClown

posted June 30, 2009 at 8:08 pm


I haven't fallen for this one yet – but I did delete all the illegal music off my PC. Does that count?(Thanks for making the feed full-text!)



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Seth

posted June 30, 2009 at 9:08 pm


I learned about the evils of secular music early on, and didn't really listen to much recorded music for awhile. In my teens, I started listening to CCM, a lot. Listened to the local Christian radio station, went to concerts, all that. Went to a Christian liberal arts college, still listening to CCM. After 4 years, I could no longer justify, as a Christian, listening to only music promoted by the Christian music industry based on content (the only music not categorized by style). It no longer made sense. What exactly makes a song Christian? The musician? The songwriter? A certain among of theology? If a non-Christian writes an honest song about Jesus, is that a Christian song? Is a Christian band writes a song about skateboards, is that a Christian song? At one point I would have supported getting rid of secular music. Now, I've just gotten rid of the false dichotomy of sacred/secular.



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Ehud

posted June 30, 2009 at 11:02 pm


The CCM scene is, and has been, spiraling down a slippery slope. So much of what is sung about today has absolutely nothing to do with God's glory, but instead suggests that the chief end of God is to satisfy man–a dangerous heresy that permeates much of Christian culture today. It becomes immediately apparent in sayings like "Jesus is my homeboy." We pretend that God is like a boyfriend, that we can just push a button here and there, that He is at our beck and call and will bless us simply because we ask Him to. We debase His glory and treat Him like a proverbial rabbit's foot, pulling Him out when we feel like we could use some encouragement or we want His blessing. The truth is that He will hold us accountable on judgment day, and we will be required to account for our sins, for our passivity and negligence of the responsibility God has given us. And the blood will be on our hands. Some of CCM doesn't even hint at these lies; it shouts them blatantly and we who have forgotten the meaning of discernment listen to the music and sing right along. In many ways, secular music is better than CCM. At least we don't listen to secular music and buy into the lies it presents. With CCM, we think that the label "Christian" absolves us of any duty to discern truth. In a very real way, much of CCM has become the wolf in sheep's skin, tearing congregations apart from the inside.Give me the old hymns any day; the ones that spoke of God's Glory, proclaimed us as sinners and did not shy away from proclaiming God's judgment and wrath. Those songs were honest, they dealt with the depths of our depravity and yet left us with the hope of our salvation and a warning of the impending judgment.And yet, even the melodies of many old hymns do not do justice to the lyrics they contain. I would love to see a movement towards amplified music that is lyrically solid and doesn't sound like a ballad when it proclaims God's wrath.



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Still Breathing

posted July 1, 2009 at 3:15 am


Back in the early 1970's a Christian friend of mine got rid of all his secular albums – Black Sabbath, Hendrix etc. I remember thinking at the time the least he could do was to give them to me!! Oddly we are both still at the same church and both still playing guitar but at least we have moved from playing for the youth meeting to playing in churchJimi Hendrix comes in for a lot of stick from Christians and only recently I was told that he was demon possessed as no-one has been able to play his music – odd because there are Hendrix tribute bands out there. Still they said the same thing about Paganini when they couldn't play his music.



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Rye

posted July 1, 2009 at 9:12 am


Hells Bells: The Dangers of Rock N'Roll



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Anonymous

posted July 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm


My husband threw out all his CDs once, a long time ago. (Before we were married, I think.) I was pretty mad that he tossed out my "Nightmare Before Christmas" soundtrack because I'd left it in his car.After a couple years he'd re-bought most of it.



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Gus

posted July 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm


I dumped my secular music, too, because I was told Jesus was sad that I'd listen to something that didn't glorify Him, and that it would do evil things to my spirit, or some such crap. I've since bought it all back, too. What nonsense. And I agree with Ehud's comments about discernment. This was never even hinted at in the "Christian" gang I ran with for a while.



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Anonymous

posted July 1, 2009 at 2:20 pm


I'm really trying to understand you people. Really, I am. But throwing away good rock and roll in the name of religion?!?! Life without the B52s, Dave Mathews Band, English Beat, No Doubt, U2, 10,000 Maniacs, Culture Club, Springsteen, John Melencamp (sp?), Social Distortion, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Dropkick Murphys?!?! Can't you even listen to The Church? I'm not talking about kehrap like AC/DC or Black Sabbath. I'm talking good stuff. That's life without beauty, which means life without G-d. Another reason to become a Jew – we can listen to whatever we want and still go to Temple. And then we're guaranteed Heaven as the Chosen Peeps! Goyim be weird, that fo sho.Saul Menowitz



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stephy

posted July 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm


I got rid of all that stuff you mentioned but kept The Church, and also The Cult. (Goyim joke.)I've not regretted parting with any Dave Matthews, though.



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George

posted July 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm


Since I first began reading this blog, I have have been anxiously waiting for the day that this post would be made, and it is nothing short of everything I have expected.I had plenty of classmates who bought into this crap in high school. Many of them actually tried to convince me that I was "going to hell" for listening to Sunny Day Real Estate but Further Seems Forever was ok because they didn't have "secular lyrics".Needless to say, I discovered Black Metal because of them.



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Aaron

posted July 1, 2009 at 3:17 pm


I can proudly say I have never done this. Even whist entrenched in the most demonstrative of evangelical cultures, I never once got rid of one piece of music. I dealt with stares, some "can I talk to you for a sec" moments with youth group leaders, and retaliation from friends who were bitter because they just lost their entire CD collection, but I never gave an inch! Not once.Also, the aforementioned "Hell's Bells" movie is supposed to be incredible. I'm slightly ashamed for not seeing it yet.Also also, what the hell is "CCM?"



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Steve

posted July 2, 2009 at 6:38 am


CCM = Contemporary Christian Music, or Christian pop/rock, been around since the early 70s. I used to buy that back then, while still buying the "secular" stuff, which I still buy, because I find it more honest and substantial. There are artists who are not CCM but who still present a sound, thoughtful message. We've talked about Bono before from U2, and I also really, really, like Bruce Cockburn, who, in the seventies, moved away from more overt religious lyrics lest he be considered CCM. Also artists like Chris Hillman, who successfully mixes secular and religious in his work.



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Cabernet Leather

posted July 2, 2009 at 6:51 am


"B52s, Dave Mathews Band, English Beat, No Doubt, U2, 10,000 Maniacs, Culture Club, Springsteen, John Melencamp (sp?), Social Distortion, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Dropkick Murphys?!?!"I take your point Anonymous, but I'd gladly burn to a crisp the albums of all those people you mention (apart from Springsteen). Also, Dave Matthews Band seems very popular with Christians… I don't know any secular people that listen to it.If you were being sarcastic – my apologies and carry on!



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Meagan

posted July 2, 2009 at 9:15 am


*sigh* I was totally forced to do this by my parents/youth group leaders. I went with the dramatic "break the CD's in half" route instead of just the toss in the garbage. I wouldn't have been able to burn them even if I wanted to. Burning things was demonic and something witches did in séances. I guess I should have thought to sell them instead. I would secretly buy them back one by one from the used record store. It wasn't too difficult to hide my re-purchases since my parents couldn't tell the difference between secular music and the Christian rock music they sold at Family Christian Bookstores.



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Tony D.

posted July 2, 2009 at 9:24 am


"It wasn't too difficult to hide my re-purchases since my parents couldn't tell the difference between secular music and the Christian rock music they sold at Family Christian Bookstores."Bingo! Couldn't have said it better myself. What would they have said if you'd played some Gregorian chant?



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Meagan

posted July 2, 2009 at 9:30 am


Haha, oh that wouldn't fly in my house. Gregorian chant would be considered Catholic music a.k.a "Non-Christian". As my mother would say, "Christians don't pray to Mary!"



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Anonymous

posted July 2, 2009 at 9:47 am


When I was in youth group in high school, we had a meeting once where everyone brought in tapes (yes, tapes) of their favorite bands so that we could listen to them. Our very well-meaning-but-hopelessly-out-of-it leaders then suggested Christian bands that were similar (or so they thought) that we might want to listen to instead. I don't recall them actually saying we should burn or throw away our secular music, but the message was definitely that it was bad for us, and there was plenty of Christian music out there that was just as good. I think at the time I was pretty into Flock of Seagulls (I know) and they suggested I listen to the Newsboys. I think I did listen to them a bit and didn't even hate them, but they weren't really the same. It's not like you can just find a Christian version of a musical style and have it be a good substitute for the secular band. If I really love "Photograph" by Flock of Seagulls, well then that's the song I want to listen to. Even the best Christian new wave band won't be the same.Also, my cousin Aaron brought in AC/DC and when we had to listen to "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" it sure prompted some awkward discussions. Ah, youth group!Becca



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Tony D.

posted July 2, 2009 at 9:54 am


"As my mother would say, "Christians don't pray to Mary!" "Ahem…did she like "The Passion of the Christ?"



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Kara

posted July 3, 2009 at 5:05 am


My sisters fell for this one years ago but I somehow escaped. Recently, one of them expressed deep regret for her former spiritual fervor, and asked if she could borrow all my Indigo Girls cds. (It did put her into some cognitive dissonance, though, when I told her I had met Emily Sailers at a preaching conference…)



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Rubyfruit

posted July 3, 2009 at 11:10 am


I've been there, I've done that. Not doing it again.



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Mark (under construction)

posted July 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm


I'm thinking about burning my Hillsong CDs anyone want to come round the campfire? When you play those Cds backwards all I hear is .. well, nothing really.



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Shannon

posted July 3, 2009 at 5:36 pm


You hit it spot on Stephy. I too sold all my secular tapes and cd's when I felt "convicted" to do so. I think I started buying back, at least the good stuff, about a year or so afterwords. I couldn't listen to my Mad at the World and Whiteheart albums any longer.



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shutup501

posted July 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm


I used to feel guilty for having secular music, but not anymore.i have tried some of the "christian" music, but the beats just sometimes feel cheap. ( they just don't pound as much as some secular music does)



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Ehud

posted July 3, 2009 at 9:55 pm


>"i have tried some of the 'christian' music, but the beats just sometimes feel cheap."Might I humbly submit that if it's the beat that you are looking for, then you are missing the point of Christian music in the first place?Granted, CCM typically misses the point of "Christian" music too.



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shutup501

posted July 3, 2009 at 10:06 pm


no Ehud i am making another point that Christian music most of time all parts included feels cheesy or forced



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Cherí

posted July 3, 2009 at 10:15 pm


Me, I wasn't even allowed to have any "secular" music…so I had nothing to burn. Now that I'm in college I've been discovering so much excellent music, and I'm sad that I missed it all before. And I have to agree with steve that "secular" music as a rule is more honest and substantial. It talks about life as it is, as we all experience it, instead of life as christian culture tells us it's "supposed" to be.I hate "supposed" to be.I'm done being who I'm "supposed" to be.Thank God.



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Bets

posted July 4, 2009 at 11:37 am


I was just having conversation about this over dinner the other night. My companions each told their story of getting rid of their music – some for a short time, some for many years. Just about every day, shares some tale that makes me say "Thank you, God, that I grew up mainline." That was one of them.



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Storyteller

posted July 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm


I think the real deal for me after tossing my sabbath, rush, styx, eagles, etc. is that I didn't miss any of it. Because my relationship with God was about His gift of life – a gift of salvation, paid for me to have a chance to get to know Him, I figured I'd forsake the wide road in favor of the narrow path. The result was that I didn't give up anything of real value when I took out the trash – the music from my old life was not compatable with my new life. So maybe it's about the sincerety of choosing to sell out or buy in?



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mister tumnus

posted July 6, 2009 at 12:57 am


haha. i reckon apple must be christians as my itunes made a great job of deleting itself! :) think as a younger person i got rid of a really good album by 'the cult' :(i also went to see a guy speaking about the evils of backwards masking and came away having discovered led zeppelin- excellent! :D



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Simone

posted July 7, 2009 at 9:10 am


"Certain secular lyrics could describe it so well, but you fight to keep them out of your mind."Loved that!Now…was the Dave Matthews things a joke? You didn't REALLY own that did you? If so, this dramatically alters our relationship. *shudder*



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Tammy

posted July 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm


I remember getting rid of my extensive collection of Janet Jackson and Sade CD's. Not because anyone told me to, however, but because I didn't want anything to distract me from my devotion to Christ.Music is a hot topic here in our home because of my secret obsession with Earth, Wind & Fire, The Gap Band, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder; and my husbands secret rendez-vous with Al Green and classic Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson! He and I both agree that our attraction to that music is because it reminds us of the carefree lifestyle of our childhood, good memories, times with family & friends. On the other hand, we both stay far away from most of the music of the early 90's because it takes us back in our minds to our lives B.C. (Before Christ). Those memories and past associations we prefer not to dwell on as we seek to glorify God through our present circumstances and future hopes.



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Still Breathing

posted July 8, 2009 at 2:32 am


Tonight I'm singing in a concert of classical music – should I only sing the 2 Bach chorales as the rest is secular music? We are ending with Mack The Knife – is it permissable for a Christian to sing something so violent? (DSon't mention that I have taken it to my guitar lesson as the chords looked interesting.)



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Emilie

posted July 11, 2009 at 9:48 pm


I had a cousin who proudly announced that she was giving up her secular music in a self-righteous superior tone. Three years later she was a stripper.



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Eugene

posted July 13, 2009 at 9:04 am


Its like a continuous wave, we keep on collecting theses stuff then in a moment we dispose of it because it's evil. We feel relief in both times.I think we need both ;)



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Paulo

posted July 20, 2009 at 12:07 pm


First of all, congratulations – this is a great blog.I spent most of my teens in a Christian boarding school in West Africa (my parents were missionaries). Every year they had what they called "Spiritual Emphasis Week" where a revival speaker would come from the US and preach every night for a week. Attendance was mandatory, and by the end of the week most of the students were so filled with the Spirit that they organized bonfires and everyone burned their secular music. Two weeks later, when normality set in again, people would beg the not-so-moved-by-the-Spirit for their secular music so they could make copies of their favorite secular music again…It's a pleasure to read your posts.



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Jeff Boldt

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:04 pm


My wife is very anti-secular bands/music to the point that she said she will not listen to Switchfoot bacause they don't label themselves as "christian". I say what about the bands that are not christian but call themselves christian to get in the industry. What about christian artist singing songs that have nothing to do with God or secular bands that sing about God in a good way. I think it is no coincidence that the anti secuar music craze started when christian rock music was in it's infancy. "but test everything; hold fast to what is good." 1Th 5:21



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khaleeb

posted August 9, 2009 at 6:25 am


I think there is a difference in being coerced to burn your music by someone, and simply abandoning music that you don't like anymore.In some cases the person pursuading you was an idiot and thought by burning secular music you were doing something to make your self righteous.Some cases the agent of pursuasion truly wanted you to see Jesus and not be distracted by things that did not point you to Jesus. In either case, we all agree that the highschool cd burning reaction was dumb. burning some plastic does not change who we are.I bet that a lot of this nonsense can usually be traced back to someone having a true conversion of soul, and along the way, realized that music that doesn't glorify Jesus no longer made them feel happy. They probably felt joy and relief at getting rid of their distractions and wanted other people to feel the same joy of pursuing Jesus wholeheartedly. How cruel to take away someones joy. If they find something better, they will know what to take and what to leave.



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Anonymous

posted August 15, 2009 at 7:02 pm


As an avid music fan (all kinds) and a person who is head over heels in love with Jesus Christ, may I say this blog has been a joy and entertaining to read. You know, when you are walking with God, His Spirit gives you discernment in so many areas – a little at a time. I have not felt the need to get rid of any of my music {Van Morrison, DMB, U2, KC & the Sunshine Band, Coldplay, REM, John Mayer, Radiohead, The Smiths, Bob Marley, Motown (but I digress)} I did however, feel compelled to put down a really good book recently, midway through, because it was violent and immoral and I kept thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. (I didn't burn it though). The Spirit leads and we should follow. If He ever leads me to get rid of the music, I would do it. Right now, I find myself thanking Him for the rhythm, the beats and the chords (if not always the lyrics) and I feel like it is a gift from Him.



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Nathan

posted September 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm


So thankful I avoided this one… I have a theory that all great art glorifies God, regardless of the "holiness" of the person making it. If God really did create an amazing, complex universe with a creative species called humans, all of their creativity matters, not just what is produced by those with the "right beliefs" (however little time they may have actually invested in reaching said beliefs).



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B. Dennis

posted September 2, 2009 at 5:42 pm


Didn't these people also turn against the Dixie Chicks?



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stephy

posted September 2, 2009 at 6:18 pm


Yes. Yes they did. That could be another post.



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torcik

posted September 6, 2009 at 7:48 pm


i'm glad that I was raised as a Catholic. My parents didn't care what kind of music I boughtexcept when I played it too loud. But they would not let drink or smoke dope in the house. I had to go outside. my mom thought that weed stunk up the house. There is something to be said for worshiping the Whore of Babylon. Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,There’s always laughter and good red wine.At least I’ve always found it so.Benedicamus Domino!Hilaire Belloc



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Roger, Roger

posted September 14, 2009 at 11:22 pm


As someone who's travelled down the road that many who commented on this article have, I have two things to express here:1) 98% of what is called "Christian music" is crap and not reflective of God's nature2) Deciding to give up your secular record collection is more of an act of principle; it in itself is not evil, but are you willing to give it up for God? Does the music, whether "Christian" or secular, take precedence over God in your life? Something for all of us to marinate on.



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brooke Bure

posted September 15, 2009 at 2:26 pm


Wow. I can't stop reading these. This is priceless. I wish I would have written it. And I wish I had all my ACDC and Metallica back.



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Anonymous

posted September 28, 2009 at 2:18 pm


As a Catholic, I must say this one breaks my heart wide open for these poor souls.



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Anonymous

posted October 18, 2009 at 3:22 am


I was raised Catholic and found around the age of 15 years old that most of the music on the radio seemed empty and meaningless. I'm pretty easy going when it comes to syle and genra of music (except County, I don't like). However, the lyrics were dragging me down. I wanted something more that was going to keep me focused on the meaning of life since we are here on earth for a very short time.



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Russell

posted October 6, 2010 at 7:30 pm


I actually did the opposite – threw away what little CCM I had (mostly given to me) because it was musically crap. I won’t let my kids listen to CCM. When they’re in the car with me, they’re forced to listen to Sabbath, Metallica, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC. And yes, I’m a Christian. I will admit, however, that I do dig a couple of Newsboys tunes.



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