The Ringing Bell

For the record, I am pretty much skeptical of what most call “Christian music”. I find it to be relatively flat in content and narrow in how it articulates spirituality. Mark Driscoll calls it singing prom songs to Jesus, and often one gets the feeling that Christian music is like contemporary political rhetoric, using a particular set of words repetitively as to coerce one into thinking along the same lines. To me there is usually nothing challenging about politicians nor Christian music, and neither one seems very honest most of the time. Sure, there are moments when the listener can find something to resonate with, but overall it doesn’t quite connect ( at least not with me). 

All this to say that recently I have come across a few artists who would call themselves Christians, but do not fit the mold of what we would usually think of about Christian music. These musicians are independent artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Denison Witmer, Rosie Thomas, and my favorite Derek Webb. In my opinion, Webb is one of the most honest musicians I have ever heard, and many of his songs deal with his own frustrations and his own thoughts on all things political, spiritual, and social. His last album was called Mockingbird, and discussed issues of poverty, affluence, social justice, and ethics. I don’t hear too many musicians talk about these issues and approach it from a Christian standpoint. It is refreshing for me to hear these things, and at the same time it creates a pause in me because it forces me to reflect on my own inaction, my own complacency on these issues, and how what I believe doesn’t always mean that I live it out.


Yesterday, Webb released his fourth studio album, The Ringing Bell. Overall the theme is about peace, about how there is a responsibility for Christ-followers to embody peace in a world that is at war. In our culture particularly, there are many who want to point fingers and place blame on who is responsible for war, and I believe there are those who should take some of the brunt of that responsibility, but I also know that I am a violent person myself and the message of peace is something I need to hear and embody in my life to those around me. What if instead of blaming others, instead of our futile attempts at power and exclusion, we longed for and engaged in peace? I hope you would check out Webb’s new album, or just ask me and I’ll let you borrow it. Or just help out an honest musician trying to make a difference…



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3 responses to “The Ringing Bell

  1. anglopressy

    This is another great album from Webb. I pre-ordered it because I’d get the CD, when it came out, the graphic novel inspired by it and an mp3 download of the whole album immediately. That’s an indication, to me that he’s more interested in making art and getting it out there, than with making money. That said, Webb has made it clear that he wants people to give his albums away. So, if you can’t afford to pay for them, let me know and I can burn it for you or e-mail it to you.

    Grapes and Peas,

  2. What up J?

    I got the pre-order special too. Webb is obviously more interested in how art speaks to us, how it conveys messages that help form us. If for some reason you don’t connect with the music, there is the graphic novel for those more visual. I love that!

    I think both have really helped me think about the issues more concretely. So I would say its effectively done…

  3. anglopressy

    That seems to be a good representation of grace conveyed through art. Granted there is still some payment required, but it’s a start.

    How do you like Rome?

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