Fan Mail

I was twenty-four and I knew everything. I had a diploma from a university where I’d studied music composition.

I moved to Nashville to save the Christian music industry – starting as an unpaid intern wearing a tie, making copies at a music publishing company. But someday, I thought, I’ll ditch this suit, and get paid to write better music than what’s on the radio.

“It’s not art,” I’d preach.

Art was god.

Then, one day I saw Joel Lindsey in his writing room down the hall from my office, reading a piece of paper and sniffling. It was fan mail sent to him by someone who loved those radio songs. God had used a song Joel had written to comfort the letter writer – to partially mend what was broken inside her.

It’s a mistake to appraise the value of a created thing on the basis of my ability to appreciate it rather than God’s ability to use it.

“Art” is a moving target, with a relative definition at best. “…the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.”


Ultimate significance – Christian significance – isn’t found in chord progressions, simplistic or complex. Or production techniques, vocal timbre or range, instrumentation, rhyme scheme or metaphor. Ultimate value is measured in the secret spaces of the heart and mind, and across the span of eternity, by the Creator of us all.

How immature and unloving to turn love of “art” – however we define it in this culture and generation – into disrespect and disdain for one another. Or an entire industry. God, forgive me.

If only we could read everyone’s fan mail.