I like to collect bad Christian books. It’s an addiction. I own all of these. And more. I feel like it’s time to share them with the world.
Jacob Aranza is a man who believes in offering solutions to real world problems. He’s a man of the people (unless you’re a rock star or country muso). His second book features a chapter of his questions and answers from readers of the first book. Lest you wander into rock and roll temptation here they are… though sometimes I think Mr Aranza pulls his punches, so I’ve given my own answer to the questions below.
WARNING: May contain traces of bad theology for the sake of satire. Bad theology is easy, I can see why the new atheists take the Bible out of context so often, they can pretty much twist it to say whatever they want.
Several people have asked me if Mr Aranza has anything to say about their favourite 80s band. If yours missed out (from a pretty comprehensive list) then don’t un-despair just yet.
Question: I know what you say about the groups in your book is true, but you didn’t mention my favourite group. What about them?
Aranza’s Answer: I may not have spoken about your favourite rock or country group, but if their goal isn’t to glorify God and help build his kingdom, then their music will hinder and distract you from serving God, and can easily provoke you to rebel against God.
My Answer: You know what, if they’re your “favourite” they’re an idol. Sing the Psalms. They’re the only inspired songs (except for a few in the New Testament, you can sing those too).
Question: The groups I listen to don’t sing about Satan, sex, or drugs. What’s wrong with listening to them?
Aranza’s Answer: Just because a group doesn’t openly sing about immorality doesn’t mean their music is approved by God. If the music you’re listening to doesn’t come from the heart of a spiritual Christian artist you are opening the door to carnality, humanism, and demonic forces. It will distract you from serving him, feed self-centeredness, and eventually breed rebellion in your heart. Just because something appears to be good doesn’t mean it is good.
My Answer: Well, ask yourself “could I dance to this song” if the answer is yes then the music is a stumbling block – and no true Christian would create a stumbling block for their brother (or sister).
Question: I don’t really like what a lot of rock groups sing about, but I don’t listen to the words. I just like the music. Isn’t that OK?
Aranza’s Answer: It might be OK if you didn’t have a spirit or a brain. You may not realise it, but you are more than a physical body. You also have a mind and a spirit which both respond to music. Your mind is like a computer and absorbs what it hears including words to music. It can’t be avoided since your brain takes and stores the information you hear and receive through your senses. Your spirit also responds to music because God created music as a spiritual force. If you are a Christian, the Spirit of Christ dwells in your spirit, making you sensitive to God’s voice and will. When you listen to music that isn’t inspired by God it dulls your sensitivity to God. Eventually it will breed rebellion in you. It’s a lot like smoking cigarettes. They will make you an addict and give you cancer, killing the life in you. This is Satan’s ultimate plan for music, no matter how innocent it might sound.
My Answer: Does it have drums? Drums are a sure sign that this music is the Devil’s music. Drums lead to tapping your feet, tapping your feet leads to dancing, and dancing leads to premarital sex and babies born out of wedlock. Is that what you really want?
Question: What about instrumental music?
Answer: Concerning this subject I would like to quote someone known to have specialised in instrumental music. While I was speaking in Louisville, Kentucky, the pastor shared with me that Phil Driscoll had been there the previous week. Phil Driscoll was in secular music for many years as a writer and instrumentalist making up to $450,000 a year previous to his conversion to Christ. Phil shared that he felt the spirit of whoever was playing the music was the spirit that would influence those who listened to it. I agree with this.
I might add that there are plenty of instrumental albums produced by Christian artists, from jazz to classical, and from pop to easy listening. There’s no excuse for listening to secular music anymore. Whether [or not] the music has words, the spiritual force behind it will affect you.
My Answer: Instrumental music is the most dangerous part. The Bible clearly shows us that playing instruments leads to death. Especially the tambourine. In Judges 11, Jepthath’s daughter plays the tambourine and dances, and her father puts her to death. In 2 Samuel 6 the Israelites dance around playing tambourines and other instruments – and God strikes Uzzah dead. Tambourines and dancing are bad. Despite what the Salvation Army and Timbrel Praise will try to tell you.
Question: I don’t like non-Christian music but I work in a place where it is played al day long. What should I do?
Answer: You can start by expressing your views to your boss. Let him know that the major themes of the music are sex, drinking, drugs and satanism. Try to get them to play instrumental music and offer to bring in your own instrumental music. They’d probably like the Christian instrumental music and wouldn’t be offended because there aren’t any words. If you can’t get rid of the secular music, then be sure to keep a song in your heart that you sing to the Lord. Ask God each day to protect you from the negative forces behind this music. No matter what happens, have confidence that God will give you the power to be victorious in this situation.
My Answer: Ask yourself “what would Jesus do”… not gentle Jesus meek and mild, but Revelation Jesus. Quit your job, and purify the office with fire.
Country music fans might be feeling like they got off lightly in Jacob Aranza’s first installment – “Backwards Masking Unmasked,” but alas, this was short lived.
I’ll get into the review proper in coming days. First, this new installment includes the following chapters:
- More Backwards Masking
- Music Roots
- Satan’s Agenda
- Country Music: Behind Closed Doors
- Guidelines for Christian Music
- Questions Most Asked
- The Mailbox – The Good – The Bad – The Ugly
- Shock Treatment
- Behind the Scenes (part I, II, III, IV, V)
Plenty of blogging fodder. The “Behind the Scenes” chapters are where Aranza tells you what’s wrong with your favourite band. The “Mailbox” is a series of letters he received after his first book, and it’s where we’ll start our review. I’ll try to knock a post on the Q&A out tomorrow…
Dear Mr Aranza,
Your book Backward Masking Unmasked woke me up to the fact that I have been a part of “rock and roll religion” for most of my teen years. I was a member of a rock and roll group and although I didn’t do drugs or drink, I was greatly influenced from the moral standpoint. I now realise that rock groups don’t intentionally worship Satan, but are serving him just by being into rock. I know it’s going to be tough to give it up, but I know that I need to serve the Lord and do whatever is necessary to do so.
Well, you know what else is tough to give up. Rick Astley.
Dear Mr Aranza,
My mother picked up your book Backward Masking Unmasked for my sisters and I. I am familiar with many of the rock groups and songs. I am also very moved with your book and have decided to stop listening to rock music.
J.G writes like a Nigerian Scammer. I wonder if Jacob truncated his request for money delivered by Western Union when preparing letters for the book.
I just finished reading your book Backward Masking Unmasked. I must admit I was shocked at all the groups involved in this and I am sure that there are many more. I have been born again for about one and on-half years, but I was still listening to rock music. Well, not any more! I have about 400 albums that are going in the trash and they will be broken and smashed so that no one will be able to listen to them. My radio is now on AM WEZE and WRO; the only stations in the area that have Christian programs. The thought of listening to rock turns me completely off now!
If only ebay was around when K.B was destroying and dumping his records. The choice wouldn’t have been so straightforward then. Critics of my criticism will no doubt point out the scene in Ephesus where the Christian converts burn their magic scrolls (that were worth a lot of money) – but I can’t help but see destroying 400 albums as a waste. But the biggest waste will be the hours K.B spent listening to Christian radio.
Praise God for your book Backward Masking Unmasked. It helped me get born again! I had gone to church for 12 years and had become very “religious.” I loved rock and roll music. It became my attention at school, my comfort at night, my pride and sex. I started enjoying this music and I wanted to dance. So I did. Oh, it only started when I was in the privacy of my bedroom. A few years later it took me to booze, bars, and the “gay lifestyle.” I centred my life around strip shows and getting attention. I had your book for over six months. I decided to read it one day. Then it dawned on me that Satan had entrapped me just by listening to music.
Now, lets follow the slippery slope. Rock music leads to dancing, leads to drinking, leads to being gay. Wow. If only somebody had told Bowie. So much pain might have been avoided.
Dear Mr Aranza,
It seemed for many years that no one really cared about what happened to me, so I took to rock when I was really young. I read in all of the rock magazines that the rock groups really cared about their fans, and that made me feel good and wanted, like I really mattered. I now see all they cared about was the money, not me. It is great to know that someone like you thinks I matter. Thank you, and God bless you.
Well. I don’t feel like rock musicians have been manipulating me, or just using me for my money. So I thought I would write Jacob Aranza this letter (I am going to email it to him).
Dear Jacob Aranza,
I am writing to you about a book you wrote more than 25 years ago, called Backwards Masking Unmasked. You might have forgotten about it. I saw on your website profile that you’ve had five books published, so I’m guessing you still remember it. I have two of them by the way, Backwards Masking Unmasked, and More Backwards Masking Unmasked. But sorry, you don’t get royalties. I bought them second hand. One was for sale in an “abandoned” books section. I’ve always wondered what it feels like to write a book and watch its life cycle. From best seller to the bargain bin. You even had a senator endorse your book. That’s cool.
Anyway. I’m a Christian. I love Jesus. But I also love rock music. I like some of the bands you wrote about. But a lot of them have lasted less time than your book. Longevity is so fickle. Half those bands were probably in the “abandoned bin” years before your book. I’m not sure what some of the bands you wrote about sounded like – but if they were anything like Nickelback – I can understand where you were coming from.
What do you think of U2? They’re a rock band. Right? I don’t like U2. I think they write boring music, I don’t know if they’re boring people, but Bono claims to be a Christian and he always talks about charity work and stuff, so he’s probably boring. And he wears coloured glasses. That’s kind of creepy. Bands that court the Christian market are the worst, don’t you think? Like U2, and Creed. And Destiny’s Child. Though Beyonce seems to be a bit less “moral” these days. Come to think of it, so does Britney. I don’t want to put my faith in a Christian band only for them to end up going a bit bonkers and attacking cars with umbrellas. I think I prefer dealing with the secular bands, at least then you know where they’re coming from.
I notice you put your address on your book. Wasn’t that asking for hate mail? Did any rock musicians send you half chewed bats?
So, Alice Cooper became a Christian. Did you apologise for saying he was hellbound? Do you think your book helped him discover the love of Jesus?
I enjoyed your book, but probably not for the reasons you think. Bits of it read like a conspiracy theory movie, or that one with Nicholas Cage where he links disparate facts and circumstantial evidence to make not very compelling logical jumps in order to reach a conclusion. I think it was called National Treasure. Your books are National Treasure-esque Jacob. Thanks for writing.
I notice that in your sequel you include some “fan mail” is there any chance you could include my letter in your next sequel? Perhaps with a link to my blog? I’ll send you the address if that’s possible.
N.C, Brisbane, Australia
Well readers, I apologise for the delay between drinks on the Backwards Masking front. There’s life in that dead horse yet, and today my new horse arrived in the mail – “More Rock & Country Backward Masking Unmasked. Which promises, at the outset, to be just as edifying. But comes without the signature of a member of the QTC faculty on the inside front cover. Sadly. Though I may ask our principal to sign it. The first one will be worth dollars on ebay. Tens of dollars. If we ever launch our “Brisbane Presbyterian Relics” store…
But I digress.
Before moving on to book two, I promised to tell you why Olivia Newton-John is to be avoided, and I don’t feel like I’ve done justice to book one yet… here is a bit of Jacob Aranza’s story – the last chapter in the book.
I can never really remember not being around music. My sisters sang, and so did my brother. My sisters were even going to record an album at one time, but my dad thought it would lead to their dropping out of school, so he didn’t let them. They dropped out anyway! As far back as I can remember they were listening to Frankie Valle, Neil Sadaka and others playing similar music. I was always more influenced by my brother who was listening to the Beatles, Poco, Jefferson Starship and the Rolling Stones. He once spent the night outside a concert hall just to get tickets to a Rolling Stones concert.
The crowd that I ran with was just beginning to get into people like Janis Joplin, Black Sabbath, The Guess Who, Led Zeppelin and, my favourite, Jimi Hendrix. Although I had never seen him in concert I treasured every picture, poster of album that I had of him.
What we’re dealing with here people is the genuine article. A convert from the clutches of the dark and dangerous Rock and Roll.
I believe we could have titled it the “Age of Black Lights.” Because of the fluorescent lighting fad we bought black light t-shirts, black-light posters, black-light pants, black-light shoes… you name it and we either had it or could get it!
Awesome man. Black light fever.
Psychedelics were in and words like “far out, heavy, solid and wow” were in their prime. It seemed like the whole world was taking acid, snorting THC, and dropping mescalin.
It may be that this book doesn’t translate well from the 80s – but hearing someone talk about the words that used to be cool when they used to be cool is always fodder for laughs… it’s a cheap shot. But it’s hard to imagine “solid” ever being the height of rock and roll rebellion.
“With rock and roll in my ears, and drugs in my mind, I was trying to understand my role in this messed up world… I was living with my dad and stepmother who was a ‘backslidden Pentecostal woman preacher.’ My friends and I were into the street gangs and we thought stealing and violence were where it was at.”
But it gets worse. Much worse.
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, they had just started integration in the schools. Because our school was 90% Mexican a lot of integration was to come its way. By the time it was all over we ended up with a school that was 60% Mexican, 39% Black, and 1% white! Our school already had problems with drugs, sex and violence. All integration did for our school was put the match to the fuse of a bomb that was already there.”
You know what it was. It was the white people. That one percent. They must have introduced the school to rock and roll…
But then a preacher arrived, took control of a chaotic situation. And converted 1,000 troubled teens within a week.
“Our school turned into a revival center! instead of carrying knives and chains, they began to carry Bibles! You could see T-Shirts throughout the classrooms that read “Read your Bible – It’ll scare the hell out of you.”
I can’t help but think that shirt would have been better off capitalising the Hell.
Aranza converted, but faced Mormonism at home, he moved out, to live with his mum. Who ran a pub. He poured beers. But started preaching to the patrons. And “God kept me straight every day that I lived there.” He didn’t get drunk, or listen to rock and roll once.
Aranza doesn’t like our (Australia’s) Liv. How dare he.
“Olivia Newton-John who had been looked on for years as a clean pop singer, set pornography to music with her recent hit “Physical.” A segment of the song says “I took you to an intimate restaurant, then to a suggestive movie, there’s nothing left to talk about unless it’s horizontal.”
In case you’re confused, at this point, Aranza helpfully lets you know that horizontal means “laying down”…
These lyrics are basically the reason young people were experimenting with sex in the early 80s.
To close, here’s Aranza’s take on some of your favourite bands – Twitter style…
AC/DC: Sexually charged, on a highway to hell.
Adam and the Ants: Adam, leader of the group, represents rebellion, absurd fashion, and bisexuality.
Aerosmith: Singer impregnated his girlfriend, married her, was arrested for drugs in high school, and their fans get carried away.
Allen Parsons Project: Have a pyramid on their album cover, which causes an out of body experience, and they wrote an album about VD.
America: Singer found God, quit band, lost record deal because the record company said “your fans don’t want to hear about Jesus”…
Beach Boys: Involved in meditation, believe in reincarnation, sing about girls.
The Beatles: Drugs, sex, the occult and a messiah complex. Have children out of wedlock. Sponsored Monty Python.
Bee Gees: Look wholesome, but like drawing naked people. Swear lots. Believe in reincarnation, smoke pot.
Black Sabbath: Satanic name and imagery, including the “rock and roll”/devil salute (incidentally popularised by their singer – who replaced Ozzy Osbourne – James Dio, who died this week).
Blue Oyster Cult: Have the word “cult” in their name. Believe in aliens. Question the cross with their logo.
Richie Blackmore (formerly Deep Purple), Rainbow: Conducts seances, records his music in a haunted castle. “Blackmore’s music and message are certainly not that of a rainbow but rather a “lake of fire.”
Blondie: Bimbo, drug addled, sex addicts.
David Bowie: Gay man, married to a lesbian, drug addict. Says “rock is the devil’s music”.
Eric Clapton: Former heroin addict, world’s greatest guitarist. Treated drug addiction with acupuncture.
Captain and Tennille: Vegetarians, believe in reincarnation and karma.
Alice Cooper: Eats animals, sings about dead people, named after a witch.
John Denver: Messiah complex, looking for meaning in spirituality.
Doctor Hook: Sing about perverted sex, and drugs, and sex and drugs.
Eagles: Satanic, friends of satanists. Give drugs to teenagers. Based on media reports, conspiracy theories, and hearsay.
Earth, Wind, and Fire: Believe in reincarnation. Have a spiritual ritual. Think all religions are the same.
Fleetwood Mac: Sing about witches, especially a “witch in Whales(sic)”. Not Jonah. The country.
Pink Floyd: Encourage rebellion (we don’t need no education) – “Mind control? They have it over the minds of millions of young people as they encourage rebellion against authority in the school classrooms.
The Grateful Dead: Used to be called “the Warlocks.” Sing about destructive habits. Do drugs. Confusing lyrics. “I’m sure some people will be grateful when their music is dead”…
Hall N’ Oates: Possibly gay, like witches. Not wholesome.
Jimi Hendrix: Drugs. Plays guitar with his teeth. Sets things on fire. Likes to “hypnotise” people with music. More drugs. Thinks rock is fun. Died from drugs.
Billy Joel: Does drugs, compares music to sex.
Jefferson Starship: Singer named bastard child ‘god’, did drugs, called rock “church,” sing about drugs. Warning to those wanting to fly in the Starship: “Flight pattern ends in death.”
Jethro Tull: Suggested Jesus doesn’t like denim, but prefers corduroys. Swear when singing about Jesus.
Elton John: Sings about rebellion, disguised as wholesome music. Sings about prostitution and sniffing glue. Possibly gay. Outed by Bob Larson (the exorcist? Possibly).
Janis Joplin: Born in Texas. Died of a drug overdose (possibly related?).
Judas Priest: Bad name. Incorrect message of salvation.
Kiss: Evil, wear makeup. Sex addicts. Possibly satanic.
Led Zeppelin: Delved into occult. Use backwards masking.
Meat Loaf: Thinks rock is supernatural and claims to be possessed on stage.
Bette Midler: Likes pot, flashed her audience.
Iron Maiden: Playing with occultic fire.
Barry McGuire: Started “protest music,” starred in Hair, became a Christian.
Jim Morrison: Messiah complex, died at 27, flashed his audience, promiscuous.
Nazareth: Into the occult and demons.
Ted Nuggent: killed a raccoon, scraped it off the pavement, cooked, and ate it. (This is literal, not a metaphor).
Ozzy Osbourne: Claims the help of the Devil. Treated for rabies after eating a bat.
The Police: Take drugs, sing about Zen. “Watch out for the Police.”
Prince: A man who wears a bikini. Swears. Sings perverted songs.
Queen: Name comes from homosexual slang, Freddy Mercury wears makeup and tight pants.
Patty Smith: Sings about horses. Probably a lesbian. Doesn’t want Jesus to have her sins.
REO Speedwagon: Sings about infidelity. Got into music to meet girls. Claim to have a “cult following”…
Rolling Stones: Equate sex with dancing. Do drugs. Talk about the Devil. Singer has rubber lips.
The Who: Break their guitars. Follow eastern religions. Do drugs. Have fans.
I’ll finish going through Backwards Masking Unmasked this week sometime. Don’t despair. In the meantime, I am continuing to discover a larger than expected volume of anti-rock propaganda… Here are some Christians using the power of Rock n Roll to proclaim the power of the rock that never rolls…
You’ll be thrilled to learn that Jacob Aranza wrote a follow up to his hit tome on Backwards Masking – Backwards Masking Unmasked – he called the sequel More Rock Country And Backward Masking Unmasked it sounds like good blogging fodder, so I’ve ordered it. You’ll know when it arrives.
Stay tuned for my next installment.