Years ago I read a book called "The Giver" by Lois Lowry (If you haven't read this, don't be embarrassed, just read it quickly and no one will know. It is stunning). In the book, the hero, a young boy named Jonas, turns 12 and is assigned his life job in the wanna be utopian (dystopian) world he lives in, a job that allows him information that no one else in his community has access to. His job is to remember. To be the only person who truly knows about the past and how the world really is. The society he lives in has carefully removed memories from their people. Even the memory of color. They believe that the memories cause the people to feel too much and it ends up getting them into trouble, eventually leading to war and destruction. Once Jonas begins his job he begins seeing flashes of color in his everyday life. Up until this point, he hadn't even realized that he had been living in a world of grey. Flowers that were bland, unremarkable, non-attractive, became beautiful when grey turned to red. Red! Etc. etc. The book goes on and it is a beautiful/horrible journey that Lois leads us on. So where am I going? What does this have to do with John Mark's new album?
The other day I saw that John Mark's album was streaming on Relevant.com and I decided to listen. To be honest, I was nervous, I don't have high expectations for music that is made for the church. Why? Because I feel like the people who create most of the music for the church and control the industry (yes it is an industry) don't have high enough expectations for it themselves. There is an extremely creative God that the industry is trying to reveal and yet they are only using shades of grey in order to paint him. Color might make people feel to passionately. Everyone might not like it. Color might disrupt, shake up, challenge, or push the listener too far and who knows what could possibly happen?
What could happen?
This is what happened with me:
I stood in my kitchen, making dinner (I wanted a distraction in case I didn't like the album), the second song began, and I started laughing. COLOR! I laughed because he risked being bold for me. Does he know me? No. But I am a listener and I bought his album so, in a sense, the music was made for me. John Mark walked onto the grey landscape of christian music with a huge red flag and began running through the streets, while it billowed out behind him. Everyone will be looking out their windows, at this album. They will peek from the cracks in their doors. The question is: Will they leave their dystopian doorstep and run along behind John Mark as he shows them the colorful/beautiful/bold life of a Christ follower that they have been missing?
I will be there.
I am there already. I am not satisfied with a grey God.
So join me. Go buy the album. Don't stream the album! Buy it. I only say this because it is hard being bold like John Mark. The people that are brave enough need all the help they can get and one of the ways you can help is to buy their albums so that they, in return, can provide for their families and continue making music. Even if you decide it is too Red for you, buy it anyway because artists like John Mark are the ones that eventually influence everyone else. All of the other artists will eventually do safer, less-red versions of his art and you will eventually find something to your liking that has trickled down from your support of him. Once you've bought it and listened, tell me your favorite song. Your favorite lyric. Gosh, there are so many! Tell me the bits that you had to talk to your friends about because they are so bold/beautiful/truthful/revelatory.
Buy John Mark McMillan's "Borderland" here.