My latest television watching obsession, other than the Olympic coverage of Korean team handball and America’s Best Dance Crew (big ups to SuperCr3w!), has been JCTV.

JCTV (yes, apparently, it’s Jesus’ television) is a channel started up by the folks at TBN (yes, that TBN) to reach the “extreme” generation. Or something like that.

I’m not 100% sure why I keep on watching. It’s not that I enjoy the videos or programming (lots of old school skateboarding, loud music videos and, for some reason, an almost endless loop of something called “Cruise for a Cause”). And it’s not because I’m mocking it, although I do have some skepticism about it. I think it’s because I’m trying to figure out why JCTV exists.

We need to ask important questions about creativity, originality, artistic expression and church and faith. Check out some of David Park’s thoughts here and here. Are we simply consumers of religious goods and services creating a strange subculture that mirrors the culture at large? Have we lost our prophetic ability to speak truth to power in counter-cultural ways? Do we have a theology of creativity — not in service to anything else, but simply as the expression of people made in God’s image?

More than the theoretical stuff, though, I wonder about the people (other than old weirdos like me) who are watching JCTV. Is it churched kids who need a “safe and family-friendly” alternative to other stuff out there? If so, then is that Demon Hunter video really your best option? Or is it intended as an “evangelistic tool” to reach the unsaved youth of America? Will a kid who loves hip-hop watch Hammer & Friends and suddenly “make a decision for Christ”?

I really wonder about the churched kids who might be struggling with music and media. When I was 18, I became a follower of Christ and made one of those dramatic decisions to get rid of all my “secular” music (not so dramatic that I smashed all my CDs and records — yes, records — at the altar or set them on fire, but I did sell most everything back to my local indie record store). For me, though, it wasn’t because secular music was bad and I needed some kind of “Christian” substitute. It was more an issue of identity — I didn’t want to be defined by music, or anything else, other than Christ in me. In that sense, replacing my music collection with a bunch of half-baked Christian replacements would have been counterproductive because I still would have been defined by some kind of music or subculture rather than Jesus.

Maybe I should pick the brains of some of the high schoolers here at church…

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