reclaiming what was lost

BreakFree
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reclaiming what was lost

Post by BreakFree »

Friends,
I am wondering if there are others who would like to share about their experiences with music.
For most of us learning an instrument was compulsory, this was not a choice but rather the elders 'naming' us. I was formally taught piano and later taught myself the guitar. Over time I came to love the piano and it has been at times in my a great friend and comfort.
Sadly I was not ever allowed to fully appreciate the breadth of my instrument or creativity in music while in CF. I was never taught that I could play for myself and use my talent for my enjoyment it was all for the cult.
I was in Newcastle until I moved to Sydney in my Early 20s. While in Newcastle I was the pianist every week, I didn't have a choice it was just my job. Moving to Sydney gave me a break as there were more musicians to choose from but I was moved to play guitar more then the piano. With a turn on the piano every couple of months. I was called upon to play piano one day. By this point I hadn't played for about 4 months and had to play for the congregation which was about 200 that night. Naturally I was quite nervous. I made a couple of mistakes but kept playing. Jonathan Gill was the musical director at the time. He gave the sermon that night and said the following. "X has shown how not to play, that is an example of not playing in the spirit."
Needless to say I was quite crushed and felt very embarrassed for being publicly humiliated in such a way. It took a number of years before I would even touch music again let alone play publicly. My moment of healing came in hospital one day. There was a piano on the ward and having nothing to do I decided to play. I started playing and just let my fingers do the talking. There was lots of emotion that just came out. Happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, joy but in that moment I was just playing for me, my wife and my late grandma. Later in the day I was approached by one of the other patients who told me how my music had pulled them from a very dark place. While I don't play very often due to not having a piano anymore I do occasionally play for things. I have written a few compositions for church settings such as my son's christening and also Easter day. These were pivotal also as  I felt as I had taken back my music that had been so awfully ripped away from me. 
Seeker
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by Seeker »

Wow, that is quite the testimony Breakfree. Thank you for sharing. I'm thrilled to hear you are playing again after what happened to you. Music is so very important .....as is the ability to play a musical instrument. How amazing the patient approached you and shared what your playing did for all who heard. I really hope you are able to procure a piano for your home.
Thanomere84
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by Thanomere84 »

BreakFree, if I may ask, your testimony about what they did to you in Sydney - what year would that have been? I ask because while I was still in the xCF networks during the preeminence of Murray Wylie in music, I was also a pianist, but I was generally not reprimanded or admonished for playing songs from other Christian music sources, or even classical music pieces. It would seem that Sydney's CF is much more draconian in their musical ministry than the other CFs.
BreakFree
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by BreakFree »

the specific incident happened in 2017.
When I was having lessons It was expected we do the grades ect so I was classically trained but as the elders did not view music as my calling I was strongly reprimanded for pursuing any musical path after school. Others had a different experience and strongly encouraged to study music at uni and go onto music teaching careers.
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Dexter
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by Dexter »

Jonathan Gill was the musical director at the time. He gave the sermon that night and said the following. "X has shown how not to play, that is an example of not playing in the spirit."
Mate. Firstly, I knew "Jack" Gill when he was growing up in Brisbane. We weren't close but I remember him. He seemed like a decent kid so it's beyond disappointing to hear that he publicly shamed you like that as a grown man. Absolutely disgusting and he should have known better. It sounds like he either pulled a page out of David Falk's playbook or he was being stiff-necked and needed a little spiritual 'adjustment' himself. If correction was even required, he should have spoken to you quietly and meekly in private, but it sounds like encouragement would have been more appropriate in that instance. Poor form, Jack; you're better than that.
I am wondering if there are others who would like to share about their experiences with music.
On the subject of music, I think we can all agree that Murray Wylie was (and hopefully still is) a gifted and talented musical genius. His legacy of songs and compositions speaks for itself (however cryptic the lyrics may have been in some cases). There were other brilliant young musicians who came up in the 90s and early 2000s including Murray's daughters, who were excellent musicians and composers in their own right. There are many names I would love to mention here but I'll refrain for the sake of privacy and brevity. Overall, we were blessed with amazing music for decades, and it's one of the few things I have no regrets about. (I should clarify that while I loved the music itself, the behaviour of certain so-called elders and musical directors was a different kettle of fish. A very bad kettle of very bad fish that left a very bad taste in my mouth.)

Sadly, it felt like things went awry sometime around or after 2010 when the standard of original music seemed to plateau, before catastrophically plummeting. Recently I listened to some songs posted on the BCF/RFI website (written within the last decade or so). I am certain, based on previous knowledge and experience, that RFI songs are now written by committee rather than by individuals, which would be a deliberate exercise in "laying it down", or "laying it back", or "laying it sideways", or whichever way they lay it now. The originality and unique character that each of Murray's compositions had is now gone, and all of the new songs (that I could bear to listen to) sounded essentially the same. The two main characteristics I noticed in the latest songs were that the chords and melodies tended to be utterly boring while the lyrics seemed to be ripped straight out of VH's latest publication and tactlessly shoe-horned to fit into the soulless music. Basically, the new music is uninspired and lacks the divine spark that Murray's early compositions had.

I could talk for years about my musical experiences in the RFI but I'll have to save it for another time.

P.S. Thanomere, based on some of your posts here I'm sure I remember you. If I recall correctly, we met very briefly when you visited BCF in the 2000s, though you probably wouldn't remember me. In particular I remember that you were a gifted pianist. Usually gifted musicians are quite sensitive people so it's heartbreaking to hear the way you (and BreakFree) were treated.
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Thanomere84
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by Thanomere84 »

Dexter, I am interested indeed. I visited BCF first in 1998, then again in 2005, then yet again in 2011, and 2014, and my final visit was in 2015, shortly before Vic "The Vicious Hall" Hall decided to boot me out, treat me with unbelievable cruelty and make me an outcast in the very church where I grew up. Since we have met in person before, do send me a private message and let me know your name. I do remember most of the people I met there, and I might probably remember you.

Meanwhile, about the BCF music, I agree wholly that yes, it did plateau somewhere after 2013, where Murray's preeminence in the music of RFI began to fade. If I don't remember wrong, Vic "the Vicious Hall" Hall was already on his vile crusade to remove elders and leaders who were from his generation (the "Unto Perfection" generation), and make himself the one and only "star messenger" or "angelos" (God Almighty, writing those terms right now itself makes me want to puke). Upon Murray's removal and Kane McNally being installed as his replacement - that's when the music quality took a straight nosedive - a nosedive from which it will never ever recover.
Guest2
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by Guest2 »

Music is a very relevant topic, especially given that xCFers have been growing up diligently practising their instruments for a few generations. The musical proficiency at xCF is quite high compared to the general population. But why is the music sung on Sunday morning now so lifeless? xCF doctrine will probably teach that it's because people like me, typing here, are not listening to the Spirit. Of course, I know that not to be true. And yes, there's an xCF doctrine for that too...

But I agree with the previous post(s) that the songs now are so curated that they have very little life. There was a period when all the new songs were four, or eight-line ditties. Some of them were so similar you could switch back and forth between songs, sometimes even mid-verse and not even realise you'd done so. The lyrics, chordal structures, key signature, tempo etc., could all be melded together seamlessly. While I don't know for certain, I think this resulted from narcissistic control or, at a minimum, narcissistic dynamics within the leadership group.

After Murry was removed, his songs were no longer sung. That's a lot of songs. I have no doubt that after he was removed, music became a 'focus' for Vic. And by 'focus', I mean another way people could be narcissistically controlled. After all, would you like to 'end up' like Murray? Of course, 'end up' would be further explained by many carefully crafted lies and half-truths about what actually 'happened'. That is, if you even dared ask that question. So the musicians had to write new songs that jumped through all the narcissistically controlled hoops. They would do well if they wrote songs with lyrics and stylistic cues to Vic's liking. Then they would be on the hook for the next song, too... hence all the songs ended up being very similar. Ones who wrote these songs would be given high praise for just how much 'life' these songs were giving. However, I don't think many people, really, actually, honestly thought they were very life-giving songs. And there's another typical trait of a narcissist. They don't know how to read the room. Some of the songs services were just awful, the congregation knew it, but some of the leaders didn't. They were too busy giving praise for these great new songs.

And there lies the conundrum many have faced in many different contexts within xCF. If most of the congregation were honest, they would realise they believed the songs were good because they were constantly being told so. That's control. But on balance, there was some scriptural context to many of the choruses, and I do not doubt that God can speak to people in many ways if they seek Him.

While I'm sure many people will have different views on leaders and ex-leaders at xCF, I believe Christ can heal and make things new. One of the final songs that Murray wrote before he was removed was one of his best (IMHO). It was a simple song of praise and thankfulness for God's mercies which are ever sure. The song was in three parts and didn't fit the typical mould of songs sung at the time. I don't know much about heaven, but maybe, just maybe, that's a song we'll sing for eternity.

"Giving glory, giving glory, giving glory to God!" [repeat]

I can say amen to those lyrics, but I cannot say amen to the way music is now controlled at xCF. So, I'll keep praying.
Thanomere84
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by Thanomere84 »

I remember that song well. When I went to my new church and became leader of the youth ministry, it was one of the earliest songs I taught to them - and they loved it so much.

"Thanks, giving thanks, to the Father of our Lord,
Thanks, giving thanks, for His mercies ever sure,
Our Shepherd who bought us by blood from the dead,
Is making us complete in every way prepared.

Grace has spread through many, many sons,
With gifts abounding received by everyone,
So now in peace confessing His offering once for all,
Our thanks are now abounding and our joy is sure.

Giving glory, giving glory, giving glory to God,
Giving glory, giving glory, giving glory to God!"

Come to think of it, Guest2, the more I look at these lyrics, the more I feel they were a genuinely divine-inspired collection of verses, rather than just regurgitated RFI/xCF gobbledygook. I wonder if Murray knew that Vic was going to extinguish his lamp in BCF, and so released this as one last gesture of small defiance? If he did, then good on his part. However, of course, sadly, this song, like many other masterpieces that he lovingly and carefully crafted, have been consigned to the BCF dumpsters. All because of one man's desire to be a naked emperor.
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Dexter
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by Dexter »

Upon Murray's removal and Kane McNally being installed as his replacement - that's when the music quality took a straight nosedive
That's ironic given the amount of talent that Kane had. He was an extremely talented and creative composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, singer, etc. If I recall correctly, he even had a recording studio in his backyard. Those are all signs that should have pointed to a continued legacy of excellence in music. I wonder what happened.

Does anyone remember the late 90s when some young people were writing songs with a Celtic influence, and others (like Kane) were writing jazz and bigband pieces? There were other styles too, but overall it seemed that there was a bit more freedom for songwriters to write authentically from their God-given identities rather than having to bury their talents in order to produce artificial, manufactured compositions that stylistically conformed to the musical equivalent of a Ford Model T, i.e. ‘any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black,’ or in other words, 'any songwriter can write a song in any style they want as long as it's completely generic and devoid of any unique characteristics' (I don't even know what to call the new genre... any ideas?)
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Dexter
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Re: reclaiming what was lost

Post by Dexter »

If most of the congregation were honest, they would realise they believed the songs were good because they were constantly being told so.
This hits home. It's one of the most damaging legacies from BCF/RFI that I still suffer from, i.e. not knowing what I like, want, or think about particular topics or things because I was conditioned to defer all opinions until I was told what to think. Even if I do know what I like, want, or think, I usually don't have a clue how to articulate it, pursue it, or obtain it because they framed that kind of discovery as indulging in the sin of 'ambition' or 'self-naming'. (Ask me how having no ambition went for me. Here's a hint: it wasn't good. I'm still recovering.)

The irony of that whole 'naming' thing is that I let these fools 'name' me instead of learning to seek God for myself, and I've suffered the consequences ever since because they got it almost completely wrong (to be fair, I was the real fool for fearing them instead of God). To add insult to injury, instead of admitting they were wrong, they just discarded me and abdicated themselves from any accountability. They couldn't care less. (I'm not mentioning names here because the list would be too long.)

As you can imagine, for a long time I lied to myself and others in order to fit in, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. It basically amounted to a culture of self-deception. I know I talk about irony a lot, but it's for good reason. The whole "Christian fellowship" is fundamentally built on lies. That's ironic.
While I'm sure many people will have different views on leaders and ex-leaders at xCF, I believe Christ can heal and make things new.
Yes. I'm on board with this. I really do believe God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, which frankly will require a boatload of repentance and forgiveness (Christ died for us while we were still sinners; likewise we should also forgive those who have sinned against us). Still, I appeal to everyone in the fellowships: Be reconciled to God. Fear God, not man.
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