Idol Chatter

castingcrownspromopicforgiv.jpgTheir last two studio albums were platinum sellers and the Christian world–as well as many in the pop culture world–have been anxiously awaiting the newest Casting Crowns release, “The Altar and the Door.” An opportunity to win a pre-release copy is generating a lot of interest on Beliefnet. (Enter the contest before August 29th!) Sales are expected to be brisk. But is it any good?
Well, whether you like it or not depends on a few things.
I like Casting Crowns’ music because it seems a bit more down to earth and real than many Christian bands. My cheese-o-meeter isn’t needed with this group, and this album is no exception. These guys are all about the journey, the real life challenges, the hopes and the dreams that most of us carry. Their message gains trust because it is practical, not preachy.
“What This World Needs” is a grinding tune that would easily be a top 40 hit if it weren’t for the bias against Christian music in the secular world. “A … politican peddlin’ lies … a three-ring circus society … a prophet in an Armani suit” are all among the things we do not “need.” It’s honest, and it’s right on! How many of us wish we could cut through the clutter of both politics and religion?

“East to West” is probably the one you’ve heard on the radio, humbly praying “I’m feelin’ like I’m one mistake away from you leavin’ me this way, Jesus can you show me …?” “Somewhere in the Middle” sounds like a good pop song but, like Dave Matthews’ “Bartender,” it’s really a prayer, saying “who I was and who you’re makin’ me, somewhere in the middle you’ll find me.”
There are other good ones, including “I Know You’re There,” which echoes Michael W. Smith’s “Breathe,” and “Slow Fade,” a cautionary tale that gently brings an encouraging message many of us need. I wish the title track, “The Altar and the Door,” was as attractive as its title.
Perhaps it’s because these guys are all leaders in their local churches (one is a youth pastor) that their music connects with real life people trying to live an authentic Christian life amidst life’s everyday challenges. Perhaps I just like their style. As much as I’ve liked them in the past, this album seems good so far, and is growing on me, which I count as the sign of a potentially great disc.

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