I announced yesterday the publication of the Third Edition of John Makujina’s classic analysis of the Contemporary Christian Music movement, Measuring the Music.
If I remember correctly, I first encountered Measuring the Music the year after it was first published in 1999. Since then, I have read the book several times through, consulted it often, and assigned portions for my students to read.
Among my favorite parts of the book are the following:
- Makujina’s thorough articulation of a biblical theology of worldliness in Chapter 1 is second to none. In particular, Makujina takes head on the typical evangelical misinterpretations of 1 Corinthians 9 (“All things to all men”) and convincingly demonstrates from the context and flow of Paul’s argument that he is not advocating the adding of cultural behaviors (especially sinful behaviors) in order to appeal to an unbelieving group of people; rather, Paul is admonishing his readers to be willing to give up what otherwise would be their morally good rights for the sake of the gospel. I use Makujina’s argument with my students every year as we talk about cultural contextualization.
- Makujina very helpfully and thoroughly explains how music carries meaning, both in Chapter 5 and in Appendix C (probably my favorite section of the book). He explains how meaning in music is not merely conventional, nor is it based on a system of external symbols; rather, meaning is music is based on its bioacoustical relationship to human physiology and emotion, and therefore meaning in music is universal. Again, I use Makujina’s arguments, along with several others, every year in my Philosophy of Music course.
- Makujina successfully debunks in Chapter 7 common arguments by defenders of CCM that appeal to what other Christians have done in past church history. We’ve all heard the common arguments about Luther using bar tunes and the Wesley’s borrowing from pop culture. Makujina painstakingly reveals the deficiencies in these lines of argument and explores the nature of culture, music, and the church in history past. Once again, I often direct my students to this portion of Makujina’s book when we discuss such interpretations of culture and what Christians have done in the past.
It is for these contributions, and many more, that I am thrilled to make this fantastic book available for years to come.