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Today, while basking in the sound of some Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, I was reminded of an acquaintance in high school who missed out on a lot of great music. He wasn’t particularly ignorant about the existence of wonderful music, but he refused to listen to bands and artists I loved, because they did “not promote Christian values”. When pressed, the acquaintance said he only listened to Christian bands, to keep his mind from being “contaminated”.

I thought about what would happen to me if I adhered to the same strict standards and only listened to Jewish musicians. There would be Leonard Cohen of course, and Itzhak Perlman. A lot of my classical music would be safe, since it was written by George Gershwin and Gustav Mahler. Film soundtracks? Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, Philip Glass, Max Steiner, Elliot Goldenthal, Alan Menken, and Mark Mothersbaugh would cover that. I could even listen to Christmas music, since Irvin Berlin wrote White Christmas and others. But otherwise my playlists would be sadly, pathetically limited, compared to the richness that now calls my i-pod home. My beloved Nick Cave, who is, I believe, a Christian, would be banished from my musical repertoire.

Why anyone would do that to themselves is beyond me. I love music with all of my heart. Music makes me exhilarated, it gives me all the answers to the questions I never even thought to ask. All that should limit you is what you would find pleasing or displeasing to your ears. Do not allow yourself to miss out on the richness of music because the musician shares a different type of faith from the one you call your own. Surely, when it comes to music, you and the artist can find a common beauty and experience?

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