Kaleidoscope Controversy

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Monday 4th July 2016

Use of f-word in song brings Kings Kaleidoscope criticism

THE RELEASE of the latest album, 'Beyond Control' by popular Seattle-based modern worship collective Kings Kaleidoscope has become mired in controversy because of the use of the f-word in the song "A Prayer". In an interview with Bad Christian Podcast, the song's writer Chad Gardner revealed that he has suffered from severe anxiety disorder and suffers from bad panic attacks, and during the crunch time of the album production season he was in a really spiritually dry state. One evening, during the middle of one of these anxiety/panic attacks, he wrote a prayer in his journal and, sitting down at a piano, the music and words meshed into an autobiographical song. He stated in the interview, "The song is me. The song my heart, it's my gut, and it's my honest, pouring my guts out to God prayer . . . And then the song is met ultimately with God's true response to me as the true me of where I'm actually am at." The album has now been released in two versions, - Explicit Content and Clean Lyrics.

Commenting on the f-word use Austin Gravley on the Reformed Arsenal website wrote, "I don't think a 1:1 replication of the f-bomb from Chad's journal was a necessary thing to do. I think the song could been 100% autobiographical in nature while recognizing that authenticity does not necessitate an unwise choice. In fact, I think the existence of the clean version that features a different word substituted for the f-bomb completely undermines Chad's intentions, no matter how legitimately well-meaning they might've been. It's a de facto concession that the use of the word "vicious" instead of "f***ing" was a sufficient substitution that preserved the autobiographical and authentic nature of the song without bringing in all the baggage and controversy of using an f-bomb." 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.

Reader Comments

Posted by Nicholas Abatecola in MA @ 17:08 on Jun 13 2019

Chad got real. He was raw. Jesus didn't ask us to get clean and then come to him- He said "COME AS YOU ARE," and this means with all your addictions, scars, your dirty mouth... I've cursed at Him before. It's not something I'm *proud* of, but for Chad to share this shows the deepest, most raw part of his relationship with Christ- and that is his imperfection. The fear was not just violent- Chad added one word to express just how violent it was. The fact that it's a Christian song should accentuate that even further.

I wondered over this for a while, and I find that it's okay, because it shows our human nature. Would I expect Chad to do this again? No, as I wouldn't either. It's a one-time introduction to being totally real about who he is, where he was, and his most-intimate portions of his relationship with Christ.

Just because you never published your stains on a media record doesn't mean you don't have them. Jesus cleaned them regardless.

Posted by Bryce Tangvald in Somerset @ 18:01 on Jan 8 2019

Chad was brave enough to be so brutally honest about where he was at when writing this. If we bleach over the parts of us that are mud-covered, this does nothing to remove the mud and leaves us with bleached mud. In this song's honest lyrics, we're hearing the prayer "Lord, Have mercy on me, a wretched sinner." While Jesus points to this honesty being approached in private, I wonder if He would applaud the license given to those who are also going through a rough patch to be honest with God and the community of Christians about the vulnerable place they're truly in.
We can vilify this band for "backsliding" because they spoke with honesty, but have you Never heard a trusted Christian leader say something that made you sit up straighter and say "Yes, you're right. That word or phraseology is absolutely appropriate in this situation of brokenness, pain or frustration."
I've used coarse language in the past when doing heavy manual labour and hurting myself. This isn't an excuse for using that type of language nor is it an good time to use it. However, in conversations with young people from a Christian Youth group who weren't themselves Christian, I spoke plainly about some forms of sexual relationship both those that are positive and life affirming and those that are destructive, broken, and leading to a sort of imprisonment. I explained that the way that leads to death is similar to the colloquial understanding of the f-word defined. In this situation, I conceded the use of the f-word to name it for what it truly is, speaking to the selfish, life shattering nature of brutal rape.
For instance, I recall my old, English Anglican Vicar say to me, in light of the situation of a 15 year old girl who died of an excruciating cancer, "This is shit, in every sense of the word." It struck me that this was an ok time for this word to be used. It wasn't unclean or vulgar. It was correctly applied to the emotional attachment for which it should be used.

Posted by Carter in AZ @ 04:42 on Dec 3 2017

To the author: I believe there's a strong argument to be made that you misunderstand what curse words really are. You have to realize there is nothing inherently sinful about curse words. They are simple words.

The usual first argument Christians make in defense of the position that curse words are sinful is to reference verses such as Colossians 3:8, which in many newer translations says to not partake in "foul language". However, the original Greek of this verse is much more likely to be talking of slander, gossip, glorification of sin, etc. As far as I know, there are no verses which can be definitively linked to "curse words" being sinful.

You have to remember that curse words are entirely reliant on culture, and thus subject to change. It may seem obvious to you that the F word is a legit curse word, and you're not wrong. But I can safely assume that you would never call the word "gadzooks" offensive--however, it was once just as much a curse word as the F word is today. In fact, arguably, it was worse, considering that the meaning of the word involves slandering God's name.

I believe that Chad Gardner's use of the F word has managed to reach and influence a host of people that you will never be able to reach with your current world-view. We're called to all people. To love them and eat with them and talk with them. Not to judge and condemn.

Paul said he was "all things to all people". He followed Judaic laws while with Jews, and broke them while with Gentiles. Why shouldn't I follow old-fashioned Christian tradition with my grandmother, and break it while I'm witnessing to classmates and coworkers? People who, frankly, wouldn't relate to a person who considers saying damn a ticket to Hell.

Racial slurs and the like are never okay. But, just remember that Jesus called people "white washed tombs", which sounds a lot like a curse to me.

With respect,

Posted by drew in detroit @ 18:38 on Jul 22 2016

When did Christian art become associated with family friendly?
The bible isn't.

Reply by Dan in California @ 19:14 on Dec 7 2016

Drew, there is a difference between the mature content of the Bible and the use of vulgarity. Take for example the movies The Passion of Christ and Wolf of Wall Street. One is rated R for the real violence (mature content) and the other for vulgarity and explicits. Yes there is mature content in the Bible, but not for vulgar shock effect.

I know the song 'A Prayer' is meant to be transparent, and it is that. It transparently exposes the immaturity of the song writer for better or worse. I think he will eventually regret that decision if he doesn't already. And that's ok, we all have moments when we air something that we are struggling with internally that should be dealt with in a private way with people who love and care for us. There is always grace.

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