All posts by Steve Goold

I live in Champlin MN with my beautiful wife and daughters and I make my living as a drummer and these things are actually true and I can't believe it and am so grateful.

You Cannot Serve Both Music and Money

Hey there, TWOG readers.

I enjoyed posting some thoughts on this blog last week and I think I’ll do it more often. I also have a blog about drums and music, and I frequently post there as well. Below is an article I wrote last year on that blog, which I thought the TWOG audience might enjoy. The post deals with the broad topics of “art” and “music,” but I definitely had the more narrow focus of “Christian music” in mind when I was writing.

You Cannot Serve Both Music and Money

“Capitalism kills art.” – Desdamona, Minneapolis hip hop and spoken word artist (via Facebook)

“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 16:13)

Over the years I’ve thought a TON about the correlation between art and commerce, and those of you who read my blog regularly are familiar with my interest in the collision of music and industry. At this point I’m starting to arrive at the conclusion, perhaps better phrased as a question: Could it be that art and commerce, though inseparable in the 21st Century, are actually enemies?

Here’s my thesis: Introducing the possibility that your art will/could produce a financial profit irreversibly changes your headspace in making the art, therefore altering the end product.

Example: this article from Somali poet K’Naan.

Art is all about the headspace – what one is AIMING for. Why create? Why pursue art at all? Most artists will tell you it’s kind of like the combination of birthing a child and speaking your mind. It’s simultaneously something you want to say and need to say, while also being painful and even dangerous if said incorrectly or at the wrong time. What if nobody thinks your offspring is cute? What if speaking your mind leaves you at odds with your friends and loved ones? (Bear with me as I rotate metaphors.)

In the current landscape of music, the motivation to accurately and genuinely convey an artistic message crashes uncomfortably into the desire for approval from one’s audience. But what/who is your audience? What are you aiming for from the outset? This is the crux of the issue, and my theory is that it is more difficult than we might imagine for an artist to intentionally cater to both an artistic audience AND a market audience. In fact, it may be impossible. And I’m not using “artistic audience” to refer to a gathering of people who only listen to indie rock and only wear vintage clothes. I’m talking about speaking your message to those who wish to really hear your message (an artistic audience), as opposed to speaking a message to those who only want a certain kind of message from you (a market audience). Can both targets be simultaneously aimed at?

This is not to say that artistic success doesn’t sell. Many artists have set out to convey a message that they really believe in and found to their surprise that the market also enjoys the message. But that is almost beside the point – what the market is buying has never really been about art. Commerce is based on pleasure and enjoyment – preferring one thing over another and spending your hard earned dollars accordingly. And sometimes the market takes great pleasure and enjoyment from unexpected places.

Sharp-shooting metaphor: One cannot, with the same bullet, hit two separate targets… unless perhaps those targets are directly in line with each other. But then you would have your aim set only on the first target, which would be the only target you could even see, and the second target would be an after-effect. I’d submit that the order of those targets, in order to hit both, MUST be art first, with commerce hiding behind it. The commercial gamble of the artist is to aim toward the artistic goal, not knowing whether commercial success is hiding behind it.

Summary so far: I want to suggest that one does not (maybe even cannot) land on a both commercially successful AND artistically successful statement by directing one’s aim toward both artistic and market audiences simultaneously.

If you replace the word audience with “master” you can see where Jesus was going with the New Testament quote I included at the top of this post. Jesus digs a little deeper into the hearts of human beings by using hard-hitting terms like “hate” and “devoted,” but the point still stands. Jesus says his followers must choose who they will serve, the Kingdom of God OR the Kingdom of Economy. Interestingly, only a few chapters earlier in Luke, Jesus also teaches this:

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”(Luke 12:29-31)

Worrying about wealth/provision isn’t your job, but is rather God’s job. Focusing on serving God’s Kingdom is a better use of time, and God promises to take care of the other department. Could it be that this is also true for the artistic/commercial tension in music? Aim for the artistic target, and the commercial target will be added unto you.

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HEY EVERYBODY: Try To Be Nice

Have you ever noticed that I, Steve Goold the Dos, am listed as a contributing author to this blog? But I stopped contributing a while ago. Isn’t that weird? Boy. So weird.

The situation is thus: I had a series of posts about my year-long Bible reading thing (which I still do) and I got behind on the posts (not the readings, just the posts) and then I felt like I couldn’t post anything else on the blog until I finished the series (and I still haven’t finished it) and now I don’t want to finish the series at all (because I so massively dropped the ball on it).

SOOOOO… Bryan, I am sorry to massively drop the ball. Is it ok if I just post on other topics now instead of finishing the year-long Bible series? I’m not going to wait for you to respond. I’m just gonna start posting about other stuff and I probably won’t finish the year-long series.

What I want to say in this post is simple and basic and easy and not new and doesn’t need a long explanation, so I’ll just post it and that will be that. Easy. (But I like long explanations so things might go that direction.)

Here we go.

There is a way to make a point while also taking a shot at someone, and then there is a way to make a point without taking the shot. There is a way to communicate a truth while also being snide and condescending, and then there’s a way to communicate the same truth without being snide or condescending. One can express a viewpoint or perspective in a demeaning or insulting way, or one can express themselves in a respectful way.

My suggestion: We – the people of God, the followers of Jesus, the messengers of the Kingdom, those who are charged with making disciples of all the nations – we should diligently choose the latter options listed above rather than the former.

That’s it.

The rest of the post is the part where I do the long explanation thing, so bail out now if that’s something you’re not interested in.

At the Goold house we don’t allow Betty (age 8) and Suzy (age 4) to watch the modern Disney shows. This is frustrating to my kids because the shows are funny and fun to watch, but our house rule exists because the nature of the comedy is so disrespectful. All of the characters constantly speak to one another in very sarcastic and mocking ways, and the studio audience laughs and so do I. Being unkind is funny in these sitcoms, and that’s not a concept that I want my kids soaking up.

Because it’s not true. Being unkind is not, in the end, funny. It’s hurtful and unhelpful and unnecessary. At least I have observed this to be the case.

I have also observed, over recent years, that being unkind for comedic purposes has reached an almost epidemic level in our culture. Making a point while simultaneously making a joke at someone’s expense is now the standard currency of discussion/debate, and this seems to be especially the case in the blogging and social networking worlds. I imagine this is so because of the pronounced instinct (that we all feel) to “win” a discussion/debate, combined with the instinct to cheer for our fellow “teammates” when they are “winning” a discussion/debate. Verbally stabbing one’s “opponent” while also getting a laugh from potential onlookers is perceived as a way to gain more points in the discussion/debate “contest.” And then this phenomenon also applies outside of discussions/debates, spilling into situations like under-my-breath comments while waiting in line for an extra slow gas station clerk, a sharp exchange with an airline representative during a disagreement on baggage fees, or lashing out at a traffic officer during a busy rush hour.

I’m as guilty as anyone. There is a particularly pleasing sensation that accompanies delivering a verbal kick-in-the-teeth to my discussion/debate “adversary.” I know this sensation well. When I’m tempted to try this, and then find myself succeeding, it usually makes me want to do it again. And the onlookers cheer and laugh and pat me on the back, which makes me want to do it yet again.

But I don’t think I have biblical permission to do this. (Sidenote: Do I? Is there a biblical precedent one way or the other on this issue? Those aren’t rhetorical questions. Chime in on the comments if you think there’s something in God’s Word to bring to bear here.)

I mean, we are talking about people here. They have feelings. Their Creator loves them. And we, as followers of Jesus, are told to love them too.

Then there’s the angle of effectiveness to consider. A personal attack is the easiest thing to be dismissive toward. I mean, right? Haven’t we all seen it to be true that disrespectful and demeaning tones cause the person I’m talking with to immediately become defensive and argumentative? I want the folks I’m talking with to hear what I have to say. I actually want to make a point. Or… do I? I admit that, for me, sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes I don’t want to love people, and I don’t want to make a point. Instead I just want to “win.”

Let me be clear as to what I’m talking about right now and what I’m NOT talking about. I can and should represent my beliefs and my convictions. I can and should speak what I know to be truth into social situations that are suffering from a lack of moral compass. I can and should disagree with someone who engages me in a conversation about sin or scripture or doctrine (or anything else) and puts forth a perspective that I feel is incorrect or misleading. And… I can and I should do all of these things without the common point-making tools of crassness, personal attacks, mockery, belittling, condescension, or sarcasm. 

Nothing is lost in my argument if I present my argument in a loving way. Nothing is sacrificed in my logic if I lay out my logic in a loving way. Nothing in my point will be missed, nothing in my assertion will be weak, and nothing in my message will be lost. I can and I should handle myself in a loving way, and there is no downside when I do (that I’m aware of).

Some context: This stuff has been on my mind for a while now, but I’m taking the time to write this post today because of some internet articles I just read. Good articles. I’m not going to name names, but these are good articles written by good people who have good things to say. And then they say it with words that cut and stab instead of words that convince and persuade.

Whaaaaaat a bummer.

I mean, Internet articles really are a big thing right now – maybe even the primary platform for the market of ideas. And I want to have my mind affected by the thoughts and messages of these godly and wise bloggers/authors/thinkers! I want to read these articles and benefit from their content, which is I’m sure what the authors also want. But I find more disrespectful joking and jabbing than any Disney show, and I do not want to be influenced by that. I very strongly do not wish to further sharpen my already innate instinct to use low blows as a means of “winning.”

And then the harsh words make me lose respect for the authors. Shoot. I don’t want that to happen! Ummm… let’s quick just all agree to not do that. Don’t lose respect for good people with good things to say just because they choose to use low blows in their speech. “He who is without sin…” right?

Blah blah blah Steve… why don’t you say something about how we can make the situation better instead of just complaining about the articles/authors that you’re not even naming? Ok.

My suggestion: Every time you read a Facebook article or blog post or whatever (including this one or anything else), try to detect any and all harshness or meanness or rudeness or unkindness or lack of love. Then, try to imagine a way to make the same points but without all of that negative stuff. And resist the instinct to lose respect for the authors while you do this.

When I follow my suggestion here a couple cool things happen. The concepts/ideas that I’m reading about tend to solidify in my mind in a more convincing yet less aggressive way, which feels really productive. And this habit also sharpens my ability to detect unnecessary negativity, which is a microscope I can turn back around to myself and my own conversations. So far it’s working pretty well for me, I think. But I suppose I should let others determine that. 🙂

John 13:35, ya’ll. Thanks for reading.

If You Love Me

Daily Scripture readings for May, set #2:

Hosea, chapters 4-6
Job 24
John 14:15-21
Revelation 1:9-20

“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me” (Hos 5:15). This is a pretty loaded verse. The Lord desires to be sought. The the purpose of distress is to promote earnest seeking. The vehicle for seeking is the acknowledgement of guilt. And all of these things come from the Lord’s architecture. The first half of the next chapter in Hosea (vs 1-6) continue these themes.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what I’m calling “a posture of learning.” This is a headspace/mindset that engages each day as if I do not necessarily have everything figured out. I’m being somewhat tongue-in-cheek here because everybody knows that we don’t really have anything “all figured out,” and yet I find myself often behaving as if I do. So I’m trying to adopt a posture of learning instead of posture of knowledge. The last verse of Job 24 would be a good example of a posture of knowledge, not learning. Job is very confident that he’s got it all figured out. He’s not very open to the idea that he might be wrong on some things. “If it is not so, who will prove me a liar and show that there is nothing in what I say?” (vs 25).

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). If you call yourself a Christian you will keep my commandments. Wait, nope… that’s not it. If you want to go to heaven you will keep my commandments. Hmmm, that’s not what this verse says either. IF YOU LOVE ME…

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.'” (Rev 1:17). I’m enjoying Bryan’s posts on Revelation so far, and I will probably defer to him for substantive commentary on the Revelation readings. But for today I want to zero in on the “fear not” in Jesus’ declaration. This is SO COMMON. Jesus, Paul, the OT writers… they give this command so often. And for good reason, because I find my heart is so likely to fear instead of trust. But Jesus’ message is to fear not.

Daily Scripture readings for May, set #3:

Hosea, chapters 7-8
Job, chapters 25-26
John 14:22-31
Revelation 2:1-17

“Ephraim is a cake not turned” (Hos 7:8). Charles Spurgeon has a very compelling “morning” devotional on this verse. Check it out.

“Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14). Don’t spend too much time trying to fully understand God. To clarify: Seek him, and seek a knowledge of his ways, seek his face – and do those things with the intent to understand. But ultimately he is operating at a level far beyond our full comprehension.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). Is this as weighty and practical a proof text for the inerrancy of the New Testament as it seems?

“The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death” (Rev 2:11). “The second death.” What is that? Bryan has some insight.

Did I Forget About The Year-Long Bible Reading Posts?

Yes. Yes I did.

Well, not “forget” so much… more like “lost track of.” I’ve been amazingly busy with work, which is funny because my “work” is normally called “play.” Because you play the drums rather than work the drums. Get it? Isn’t that funny? Yes. It is funny.

But I really do want to get the rest of the notes for May readings posted. So I’ll get that done. And then I have some other things to post… really controversial and pot-stirring stuff that will undoubtedly make EVERYONE mad at me. Just kidding. Or am I?

OH MY GOSH THE SUSPENSE YOU GUYS…

In the meantime please join me in wishing the young Bryan McWhite a very happy birthday. He is an incredible dude and I am a better man for having met him. I texted him that earlier but I feel like I should say it publicly.

Thank you, Bryan, for your friendship and your influence on my life.

Have Mercy On Those Who Doubt

Daily Scripture readings for April, set #25:

Daniel, chapters 10-12
Job 22
John 13:31-38
Jude, verses 17-25

“Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia” (Dan 10:12-14). If we are to define “spiritual warfare” as conflict in the spiritual realm that is largely off the radar of the human realm, then this text is one of the more interesting accounts I’ve ever found. Situation summary: Daniel begins “praying” (humbling himself and setting his heart to understand), an angel is immediately sent to “answer” him, the angel is delayed in some sort of battle with the “prince of the kingdom of Persia,” another more senior-ranking angel (Michael) comes to aid the first angel, and the message eventually gets to Daniel. That is fascinating to me.

“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you” (Job 22:21). I think I understand Eliphaz’s argument correctly. He is basically saying that Job’s suffering means that Job has sinned, and if he would just stop sinning then clear and visible blessings would come to him instead of his very clear and visible suffering. If this is indeed what Eliphaz is implying then Eliphaz has probably been hanging out with prosperity gospel preachers, because that is classic health and wealth logic.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). This is one of my favorite verses. It’s just so straight-forward and so compelling. Ever wonder how you might go about declaring to “all people” that you are a disciple of Jesus? Answer: John 13:35.

“And have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude, vs 22). Why? Why should we have mercy on those who doubt? Is it maybe because we too once doubted, and even still sometimes doubt? Is it because if not for the Spirit’s work in opening our eyes we would all STILL doubt? Yes. Have mercy on those who doubt.

Daily Scripture readings for May, set #1:

Hosea, chapters 1-3
Job 23
John 14:1-14
Revelation 1:1-8

“And the Lord said, ‘Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.’ Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God.'” (Hos 1:9-10). The people of Israel had sinned enough to deserve verse 9. Verse 10, then, is the definition of mercy. Along these lines, consider verse 23 of chapter 2: “And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”

“I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me” (Job 23:4-5). This is my attempt at a paraphrase of what Job is saying here: “I wish God and I could just sit down and talk this out. I’d present to him my way of seeing things and I know that he’d agree with me. My way of looking at this situation is definitely the best way and I don’t think God would be able to change my mind on that.” It’s… well… pretty arrogant. PERHAPS Job didn’t deserve the suffering that he went through, but he definitely deserves the verbal rebuke that he gets at the end of the book.

“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (Jn 14:9-11). This is some SERIOUS doctrine of the Trinity right here.

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (Rev 1:1-2). So then, the book of Revelation is God’s Word, via an angel, and recorded by John. That’s pretty straight forward. Unfortunately, it’s uncomfortably similar to what Joseph Smith claimed. What do we do with that similarity?