One of the team of seminar speakers at Cross Rhythms '94 is Liverpool lecturer GEORGE RUSSELL. Here he looks at the effect music has on our lives.

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Satanic music is any music which is anti-God, pro-Satan or which encourages the listener to disobey what God says in the Bible. Here are some heavy metal song titles, specially selected to confirm the prejudices of the rock-knocking community: Welcome To Hell - Morbid Angel Reign In Blood - Slayer See You In Hell - Yngwie Malmsteen

I make no defence of these particular songs or others like them. There are however thousands of songs in the genre which are not satanic by the definition above. What about pop music? It's not as lyrically bad as metal? Do you wanna bet? I Want Your Sex - George Michael Let's Spend The Night Together -Rolling Stones Please, Please Me! - Beatles No-tell Motel - Conway Twitty

I won't upset the lovers of classical music with examples of sex and suicide glamorised in this music form; I think you are getting the picture! The music form is not the problem but the words certainly can be.

What about the musical ethos? By this I mean the moral and spiritual atmosphere generated by the performers. Are some artists inspired or motivated by evil? If we can be inspired and motivated by God, then why not? Many years ago I saw AC/DC in concert. At one point in the performance, Angus Young hurled himself from the top of the PA stacks and crashed down on the floor, landing on his shoulders. Without missing a note he writhed around the stage, foaming at the mouth leaving a trail of greb like a slug. I had the strangest feeling that he wasn't playing the guitar but that the guitar was playing him!

On the other side of the coin, I have been to concerts where the presence of God has been unmistakeable. Two that spring to mind instantly are Veni Domine at Greenbelt and Kings X at the International 2 Club in Manchester several years ago.

If at this stage you haven't already trashed your copy of Cross Rhythms, and have checked the tape for backwards masking, you may be wondering how you tell when music is "good" or not. We are all different, and different influences affect us in a variety of ways. Apart from throwing out the television and staying locked in our sound proofed rooms, we are going to get some exposure to satanic influences. How do you counteract the effect of music and the media?

Here are some guidelines:
- Keep a sense of proportion and avoid idolatry. Most people are aware of their own inadequacies and need heroes or heroines to look up to and identify with. These "stars", with a few exceptions, are only moderately talented people who have been blessed with the breaks. Look at their lifestyles and behaviour; are they likely to help you to develop a good relationship with God?

- Look at the lyrics. Could you read them to your granny? Is the subject matter in line with God's instructions for your life? Look at the sleeve/case design and artwork. Are there any satanic or new age symbols?

- Look at yourself. Is the music you listen to doing you any good? Don't let others tell you - ask God to show you if you need to trash any albums, books or posters. The Holy Spirit will let you know what is good or bad for you.

- Don't ask for trouble, avoid temptation. Any music scene that is sex, drugs and kicks orientated is not going to benefit any Christian interested in going for God. Don't kid yourself that you will affect the others - you need a special call and enabling of God to work for him in this kind of environment.

- Get you mind right. We can all be emotionally screwed up from an early age by parents, teachers, peer group, the media and very often, by the music we listen to. Let God's word, the Bible, renew your mind.

Most people like to eat out, particularly if someone else is paying. Here is an interesting scenario: You are shown into the rear dining room of Greasy's restaurant. The wallpaper is hanging off, the air filled with the faint aroma of old mice droppings and the dry rasp of the roaches scuttling around behind the remaining paper. The floor is carpeted with greasy sawdust, fish heads lay scattered artistically, with at least a dozen rats sniffing and scoffing round your feet. You sit at the table, and your meal is served.

Not many would eat at such a place. I find it interesting therefore that most people, Christians included, have no problem tucking into mental and spiritual garbage - be it heavy metal albums or TV soaps - with gastronomic fervour. Tragically, many Christians are not too fussy about what we shove into our minds and spirits!

I have a hobby - observing Christians and comparing what they say with what they do. Look at their defeated miserable lives, then look at their video collections, the magazines they read, the places they go. Look at their attitude to the word of God, prayer and personal holiness. You don't need a PhD to work out the correlations.

No piece of music, heavy metal or otherwise, ever wrecked a life, but it can be part of a slow conditioning process. The Apostle Paul has some advice: "Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honourable." Philippians 4:8 (GNB) Is the music you listen to filling your mind with good things? CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.