September 30, 2003

Volume 16 

September 3, 2003

The US Open

I've been watching matches and highlights from the US Open. I prefer hard court tennis. I think grass is great as well - uh, that's grass court tennis. Don't want any confusion with that one. The other kind of grass is not good for you. Last week I saw a John McEnroe interview and he jokingly referred to other players he use to compete against as, uh, sissies. John's changed so much…not! 

Pete Sampras retired last week. He's had quite a tennis career. Since he announced his retirement my little sister said she's gonna stop watching tennis in protest (um, that lasted a few days, as she watched a few matches from the US Open, but it was the thought that counts). 

My dad and I were talking about clay tennis and he reminded me that, as well as Sampras played and as much as he accomplished in tennis, he never won the French Open (that should make anyone who's lost on clay feel better). Well, it is on clay and that's like kryptonite for American tennis players (kidding). Ah clay, the red stuff. When you think about it, clay is dirt and grown people really aren't supposed to be playing in dirt (that was a joke). I've got a few more clay tennis jokes - feet of clay...clay pigeon...well, for American tennis players who don't gravitate to clay it's not clay pigeon, it's more like sitting duck (get it? ducks and pigeons are birds... never mind). 

I think the American tennis players need to start a clay support group. Picture that first CA Meeting (Clayers Anonymous). A tennis player stands up "Hi, my name is David and I'm a Clayer (bawling)." All jokes aside, it is not a surface that's to be ignored and to be fair there are Americans who have won the French Open.   

Speaking of Sampras, critics are searching to find his replacement (since when are critics talent scouts) - the tennis player to pass the torch to. But that's just it; you shouldn't seek to replace people. It's disrespectful. Critics have put a lot of undue pressure on the younger tennis players to follow in the previous generation's footsteps.

God makes each person unique. Therefore, why look for the next version of someone else. Why not appreciate peoples unique talents instead of trying to make them duplicates of someone else. 

There are young talented tennis players. For example, there's a tennis player that has a great backhand - the way he slices a backhand makes you wonder if he works part time as a chef at Benihana (ok that was a really bad joke). There's another tennis player who has a great forehand and considerable speed on the court (did he use to run for the US Olympic Team or something). 

There's another tennis player with a very fast serve (sometimes I feel sorry for the tennis ball). There's another tennis player with a great backhand  -cough- Swiss cheese cause he's, well, Swiss and he turned a few people into Swiss cheese at Wimbledon. I was speaking to someone on a message board recently and she referred to him as Fedex, but since he beat one of my favorites I told her I'm switching to UPS -raspberry-. I'm kidding.

Oh yea, what was my point again...ah, yes, they all have different strengths. So, let's not look for the next Sampras or Agassi. Let the new tennis players grow into their own game, not build or pattern it on someone else's due to pressure from the press. 

When people refer to someone as the new version of another person that achieved great success in that field, it takes away from the person who they are being compared to and makes it seem like they are being replaced - while dually taking away from the individual that's being compared (sometimes unfairly and unflatteringly) to the well established person. It robs them of their personality by putting them in a mold that God did not make them from. It's idolatrous and God dislikes idolatry. 

People have to be smart enough to take the comparisons critics and audiences make as compliments, not commandments to live by. The Bible never said thou shall be the next Pete Sampras. The Bible never said thou shall cut your hair in a blonde mullet and be the next Agassi (Recently I saw a pic of the mullet he use to wear, so I had to include that comment). It's idolatrous, will rob them of their individuality and what worked for one person sometimes does not work for another.   

Most audiences just want to see a good tennis match. It's always the hired prognosticators that look at the sport so technically that it takes the enjoyment out of it for the rest of us.


September 9, 2003

Foresight: CD Price Reductions

Well, by God's grace it looks like I showed some foresight again. Three months ago in the June 10th, 2003 Sound Off article I wrote about CD prices being too high and that 12.99 to 14.99 would be better. This week one of the majors, Universal Music Group, announced that they will lower their CD prices to $12.98. 

RIAA Filed Lawsuits Against File Swappers

The RIAA has filed lawsuits against 261 people who download and swap large quantities of songs on the Internet. They are basically making an example of them. They've tried asking nicely and education, but those methods have failed. Now they are filing lawsuits. I don't think they wanted it to get to that, but when you are dealing with people who are willful infringers lawsuits are the only language they'll understand. Look how many warnings and chances they gave them, yet some are still obstinate in latching on to songs that do not belong to them. 

I read that one of the people that was being sued is a minor, a 12-year-old girl. Ooo somebody's gonna get grounded. 

The RIAA scared her with the lawsuit, as she was quoted on Fox News as saying "I got really scared. My stomach is all turning."  -Aisha wipes away tears from laughing-. Yea, like I'm the only one laughing at this story. I'm not laughing at the little girl or the RIAA, just what the situation has turned into. However, to the RIAA's credit they have allowed her mother to settle the suit for $2000. Ooo somebody's gonna have to get a summer job to pay their mommy back. I'm just kidding.  

Regarding the illegal web sites, it's pretty audacious when you think about it. Some illegal sites are operating like industry music publishers. They take titles and administer them how they see fit, but over the Internet and without having any rights to them. Some of those sites even have the nerve to operate as corporations.  

Some supporters of illegal music download web sites argue that music should be free. Can you imagine going to work all week, then on Friday someone just showing up and taking your paycheck? You wouldn't be amused, but it's the equivalent of what these sites are doing and the argument/defense they are trying to sell everyone.

The lawsuits will help. Obviously, it's something they will have to continue to monitor (which is very annoying to anyone at a label or industry related firm, as they could be doing more important things like watching TV - I'm kidding). 

Madonna Publicity Stunt At VMA's

That on stage kiss between female singers at an awards show recently that made headlines was pathetic and desperate. When singers are on stage they are supposed to use their mouths for singing. Shock value has nothing to do with talent. That's the singing equivalent of saying the dog ate my homework. It's like a child that keeps behaving progressively worse because they don't get the attention they want and their parents aren't manipulated by their tantrums. They do something worse each time to try to get your attention. The public is so desensitized to shock value now. It's lost its shock, so what's the value? 

Audiences end up yawning at the attention seeking or just appalled. You know what would be real shock value...what would really shock people...if someone went up there and actually decided to sing. Remember singing? You know that thing people do when the microphone is actually on.

The 21-year-old singer who took part in the kiss at the other singer's request (coincidentally when her career needs a boost) said that her parents are okay with it, her mom even liking it (and they have the nerve to question Michael Jackson's parenting skills). Frankly, I think the performance was the devil's way of passing the torch from one of his princesses to another, proof being that the publicity generated from it focused more on his new princess and not the one who really needed it. Apparently, the idea wasn't even original to her either (which isn't a surprise coming from that singer) as a Russian Duo did the same thing at an awards show hosted by the same channel a few months ago. 

- Well, this year's US Open is over. Fedex was fedexed thanks to David (see last Sound Off entry for more on that). Then there was that match David had against Roddick, who made 38 aces...oh, is that all...which, coincidentally is how he closed out his championship winning match last week. Yes, Andy Roddick won a grand slam - no, not that breakfast special at Denny's. He won the US Open. All that fuss in the press about American tennis being in trouble and now one of the younger players has won a major title. There are two other players who I think have the potential to do the same.  


September 13, 2003

Dave Barry Vs. Telemarketers

Well-known Miami Herald journalist -cough- and comedian Dave Barry printed the name and telephone number of a telemarketing company in his column and urged readers to call them, you know, much the way they call happy, innocent, unsuspecting people. As a result that telemarketing company has stopped answering their phones and started screening their calls, much the way we do with caller ID to avoid calls from, well, them. 

Unfair Comparisons 

Last week I wrote about athletes being compared to their predecessors. This week I'm going to write about that as it applies to music.

Critics need to stop holding people up to an unreasonable standard and allow them to develop into the best people they can be. People often build up their favorite singers into legends due to their talent, but more often than not, due to their longevity and or memories they associate with that singer from their own life. It doesn't mean they are necessarily very talented, though some are. 

Some critics and execs have newer artists competing with something they've built up in their minds and no one is going to measure up to that idol they've created in their heads, no matter how talented the newer entertainer is. However, oddly enough, longevity in music isn't always based on talent. Often it's based on who you work with. 

I've seen people who exhibit greater talents than their well-known predecessors. The new breed of artists are not all without talent. There's a female gospel singer I heard a few months ago named Tarralyn Ramsey that could out-sing several singers who have been well known for decades. There's a singer and multi-instrumentalist named Peven Everett, who displays more overall skill than many well-established musicians that have been playing for decades. Rachelle Ferrell is one of a very small number of recording artists who has a seven-octave voice and is also a classically trained instrumentalist. New Zealand born British singer/writer/producer Daniel Bedingfield is a home studio musician who has a great voice and a talent for writing and producing. These are a few of the talented artists who are out right now that I've referred to before on this page (but not by name). 

As for me, not since Etta James has a black blonde singer worn this hair color with such grace and finesse -yes, believe it or not, that is a talent. Okay that was a joke, but I was trying to illustrate how some singers in the mainstream right now feel image is a talent and it's not and no disrespect to Etta James because she has a great voice...and a great hair color.

So, it's not a matter of God not building them like He used to. He still does, the talent is still there, but there are factors as to why some of these singers aren't more known - why it's not common knowledge. A lot of what is in the mainstream, which sadly ends up representing the music industry, is not talent oriented - it is image oriented.

In the mainstream people lack vocal ability, resort to vulgarity to sell records and are over credited as writers and producers to make them appear that they have more talent than they actually do. When you present that to the public, you lower the standard for talent and that's what new singers will aspire to which really isn't much. 

To overcompensate for the lack of talent, some executives over credit their artists. I don't believe certain singers when they say they are writing and producing, especially when it comes to writing and producing/recording instrumentation. Not only because some of them do not display the aptitude it would required to do the work, but because the process often takes up so much time and the equipment can be so particular. 

Several singers, especially female artists, have been over credited as writers and producers and you can tell they aren't doing what they claim. I sometimes wonder if some of them realize the work that goes into what they are claiming they do. If they realize how complicated some of the equipment is and how detailed your note writing has to be for many compositions (I'm not referring to rap/r&b producers who make beats, that's something else, but it still requires that they know the equipment).

Several of the people claiming a lot of credit in the studio do not seem intelligent enough and it's mostly female artists who are questionably claiming this. Writing, producing and recording is the main part of the industry that is like a science (the outcome is something else). 

If your writing is considerably above the way you speak, it says that you are getting help and not crediting the person or using other people's material or words. You can't speak like Barney in your interviews, yet write lyrics like Shakespeare (No, I'm not referring to the producer who has adopted that name as his moniker - I'm referring to certain singers. No disrespect to Barney either - what I mean is for one to speak in a childlike manner). Also, most people who truly write music in all its parts usually have played an instrument for years as well. They also speak about music differently. If you've really written and or produced you know what I'm referring to.  

All these things give the appearance that the overall standard in music has been lowered or people aren't as talented as they used to be, but it's really what's in the mainstream and not every genre of music.

Another factor is a lot of the truly talented singers end up in Gospel and contemporary Christian music and many of the truly talented musicians (instrumentalists) end up in classical or jazz music. Those genres are typically not mainstream (though some do crossover - talented artists like the Winans and Kirk Franklin in Gospel music, Kenny G in jazz music and Charlotte Church in classical music).

Those genres are unadulterated forms of music where you have to be the real deal. Going out there dressed like a prostitute and trying to pass that off as musical talent will not work. Why? Immodesty is frowned upon in Gospel and contemporary Christian music, as it goes against the Bible, which the music celebrates. In classical and jazz music the compositions are commonly so intricate that you have to know what you are doing.

In those genres you can't rely on the engineer to make you sound good, you can't rely on your stylist to make you look good - talent is a requirement, which is supposed to be the reason you are a singer or instrumentalist in the first place.

In mainstream music, lack of talent is no longer an obstacle. Thanks to certain A&R guys that is no longer an issue and talent is no longer a qualification. It sounds bad, but it's true. Just take a look at the music charts for your region and you'll see why I wrote that. 

A&R executive (artist and repertoire) - a fancy way of saying talent scout. Some A&R executives need to redefine what their idea of talent is. Labels are making poor judgment calls when they hire certain people to be talent scouts. Sit down and ask certain A&R people what their criteria is in signing an artist and you'd be surprised at some of their answers.

1. The artist is cute, photogenic (yes, but you sell records, not photos, did you check to see if the artist can sing? "They're supposed to be able to sing?!").

2. The artist slept with the A&R exec (alright, that one's self explanatory, but still wrong).

Another problem is that some music execs don't know music. Remember when A&R execs actually knew and appreciated music - actually knew what to look for. Now, they are hired because they are driven or know someone at the label. However, they don't understand music and don't have an ear for it. They go purely on image. If they find someone who is good looking and can sing; they consider the singing part a bonus and not the focus. The artist being able to sing for them is incidental, a coincidence. However, since you are dealing with music, being able to sing should take precedence over everything else. You are supposed to have an ear for talent and too many people are using an eye for talent when signing singers. 

If looks are what you are after, there are good-looking people out there who can sing. However, some executives become so obsessed with image, that it becomes their basis for the signing and they ignore content.

Audiences also realize when an artist lacks talent. If they notice an artist is continually running from live mics, they will comment on it. If the artist sounds dramatically different live than on the album they will notice and comment on that as well.

You can't continually distract audiences from the artist's lack of talent by sending them on stage scantily clad. Some will be intrigued at first, but shortly after it will dawn on them, hey what's that noise? Oh, that's their singing.  

I think labels need to show good judgment in who they hire and retrain some of their A&R execs. Just because someone is hip and you assume they know what audiences like, doesn't mean they actually do or that you should hire them. Let's remember that some of these A&R guys have signed so many artists who lack talent in favor of image, that they have weaned certain audiences on that concept.

The industry needs to establish some boundaries. Anybody isn’t supposed to be able to get a record deal. Let that thought sink in for a while because I think some people forgot and need to be reminded, while other newer executives just don't know. It's probably a revelation to some of the new breed of A&R guys and they need their "Oooh, I'm supposed to be signing people with talent" moment.

Seriously, think about it, if musical talent was that common wouldn't everyone have it. Ah, but everyone doesn't. So, that should tell you to use some discretion when signing artists to record deals.

Therefore, it's not that the talent isn’t there anymore; it's what the labels choose to sign and put in the mainstream that is often a very poor reflection of the industry. Many of the artists they've put forward lack talent and that is like icing without the cake. That statement sounds strange, but just think of how much stranger it is that labels are actually putting that into practice by building their rosters on that premise. 


September 18, 2003

RIAA Lawsuits, Itunes, High Recording Budgets

- Some members of the press sure can put a spin on things. I read a few dozen articles from different newspapers each day. Last week, some, not all papers reported their own version of the RIAA suing the 12-year-old girl for copyright infringement. A few papers wrote that she only downloaded nursery rhymes and a few songs by her two favorite artists. 

Since when can "a few" be defined as over 1000? She had over 1000 copyrighted songs on her computer. That's not a few songs, that's a CD collection. That's almost the equivalent of 100 CDs, if you count a CD as 10 songs per album - you know, minus all the junk like intros and interludes that artist use to pad the tracklisting...oops -Aisha remembers her CD has intros and interludes -. Okay, never mind the last part.  Anyway, back to what I was saying. She had a lot of illegally downloaded songs on her computer. That's why the suit was filed. It's about $1500 worth of music if you multiply it by a median retail price.

A rep for the RIAA stated, "We are targeting the individuals that are making substantial amounts of files available on peer-to-peer networks," said RIAA spokeswoman Amanda Collins. "This activity is illegal, and no one gets a free pass for illegal behavior." 1000 songs do qualify as "substantial amounts of files." 

- Record store CD prices have escalated over the last decade. However, lower priced music outlets such as electronic stores enjoyed a sales surge when they started stocking music a few years ago and conventional record stores suffered a small decline. Sadly, that's how business works. If someone has a better price, that's where people will go. Then peer to peer networks arrived and industry sales suffered a serious decline.

While I believe CD prices are too high, peer to peer networks are not a better price. They have no price, as they are free. People like to argue that these sites are a success, but when things are free they usually are.

The whole thing was like a collision waiting to happen. Music prices kept escalating then peer to peer web sites came along when the prices were at an all time high, which made the illegal sites even more appealing to some.

Proponents of those sites believe that people prefer this format (I prefer CDs, but I do like the sites that offer legal downloads) and that the industry needs to embrace the new technology in order to save sales. 

While downloads would cut overhead (and sadly jobs as well as they would eliminate record stores...oh wait, illegal downloading has already eliminated many record stores) and charging a fee per download is okay as it will compensate each label and artist accordingly, monthly service fees in exchange for unlimited monthly downloads has its drawbacks. It's would be difficult to offer unlimited downloads and pay thousands of artists out of that one fee.

If the fee is too high people won't subscribe. They will once again argue that they are being overcharged for music. If it's too low, labels won't cover costs. Even if an unlimited downloading fee were $39.99 per month, you can't adequately pay all those artists for their work out of that sum and many people will not want to pay that fee.

There would be a lot of people who would download dozens of songs per day, especially families with children where there would be more than one user per account. That could equal thousands of songs per month for one family. It would be financially unfeasible to pay thousands of artists royalties out of a reasonable fee - then there's costs, the record companies share, the manager's cut and other miscellaneous fees associated with music.   

The bottom line is if you like someone's work you should buy it for a fair price, not steal it. You get your paycheck where you work, why are you trying to deprive singers of their paycheck where they work.

While were on the subject of artists paychecks...that show on VH-1 "The Fabulous Life Of..." doesn't really incline people to support artists. The show could not be made if certain artists weren't being so indulgent and extravagant. It is not garnering respect or sympathy for entertainers, but rather contempt that some live like that while there are people in this world who have so little. It makes entertainers look like spoiled, indulgent, overly pampered, narcissistic brats...wow, I guess that show should be considered reality TV, then. Ok, that was a joke, but there is truth in that statement concerning certain artists. 

Anyway, back to the illegal music web sites. The reason those sites received so much traffic/downloads is because they are free. Say it with me...because they are free. When some of those sites offered subscription fees they started losing support. Why? Because it wasn't free anymore. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out, but some are playing dumb like they don't understand it because it doesn't bolster their argument. Some of these sites have the gall to have paid advertising on them, making money off product they don't even own and violated the law in obtaining.

Speaking of laws, some need to be changed regarding these sites. It takes too long to close those illegal sites down. Hosting companies need to be held accountable if they refuse to immobilize the infringing web sites. 

Look how long it took to nap Napster. So much damage was done during that time. Billions of dollars of artist and label revenues erased. It's not like these sites were helping the economy - they were helping to destroy revenues and jobs. 

If the infringing site is hosted from a personal server, labels and the RIAA should legally have the right to obtain a court order to quickly shut the infringing sites down via technology. Of course, it is something that would have to be constantly monitored, but it would be effective. 

If you can't find the songs on the net, the likelihood of the average user being able to would be remote. Just like some of these sites like to brag that for every counter measure the industry implements they will find a way to circumvent it. Well, the industry needs to adopt the same attitude in fighting piracy. For everything they come up with, the industry can come up with something to out maneuver them. Accepting piracy is not the answer - using legislation and technology to make it so risky, undesirable and unprofitable is. 

People need to learn to respect the fact that the music they hear and the films they watch took time and money to put together. It's not someone's hobby, it's their job. The industry employs thousands of people. It's how many support their families. As much as entertainers appreciate their audience, they don't appreciate being ripped off and lower sales due to piracy can lead to some artists being dropped from their deals for seemingly not selling enough copies to cover their costs. 

iTunes - this service has sold a lot of music in a short space of time. As I wrote earlier I do prefer compact discs, but I like iTunes.

If the music industry were a corporation and experienced the problems it has, it would have been restructured years ago. However, as you can tell it is not a corporation (and shouldn't be), therefore that is easier said than done. The way the industry operates can be quite archaic and ceremonious. Certain aspects of it are set up in a very inefficient and unproductive way. 

A prime example of that self-indulgent, inefficient, ceremoniousness is exorbitant album advances. That's just tempting people to play with money, which in turn can mess up the company's bottom line if the artist miscalculates with their special brand of creativity and the album does not recoup its costs.

Why do you need 10 million dollars to make one album. Why do you need 20 million dollars to make one album. What? Are you building a skyscraper to go with it.

So many successful, breakthrough albums were made on shoestring budgets and they turned out great, yet some try to justify spending several million on making one album. That needs to stop. I've listened to those albums and they don't sound any better than albums produced on a normal budget.    

Yes, you want a good budget to make your record, but if it exceeds the debt of a third world country, that budget/advance is too high. 

I don't think some singers realize that there are award winning films that were made for less money than their albums.

Some artists use exorbitant album advances as a way to show off by saying, "Well my album cost 10 million to make." But what if it doesn't sound like it cost millions to make the album. Money well spent? I think not.  


September 27, 2003

Religious Deception

There is a lot of religious deception in the world. People attribute things to God that He had no part in and disapproves of according to what is written in the Bible. Some claim we do not know what God says, but that is incorrect. The Bible is our guideline and history has proven it to be very accurate via archaeology, science and historical events it has predicted that have happened. 

People sometimes use the phrase "all roads lead to God," but that is incorrect as well and a serious deception, as the Bible says of Jesus "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) except through me" (John 14:6). That certainly does not say "all roads lead to God." That was the Bible's way of saying you cannot get to heaven when you die without putting your faith in Christ, it's not an option. God is not all inclusive, the Bible makes that very clear in several verses, it is based on faith in God and Jesus, not just faith alone in God.   

- It is wrong for people to commit suicide bombings as the Bible says, "Thou Shall Not Kill" (Exodus 20:13). Anti-Semitism is a sin and that is what suicide bombing is based on. To hate Jewish people, or anyone for that matter, is wrong.

I read about a man who bombed an abortion clinic because he wanted to prevent doctors from aborting babies. This man was misled. You cannot take someone's life to protect another, even if it is an unborn child. God never told people to do that. Once again, the Bible says "Thou Shall Not Kill" (Exodus 20:13).

Some animal rights activists sometimes threaten and sometimes kill people to protect animals. That is wrong. How can you value an animal who the Bible says has no soul, above a human being, who the Bible says has a soul. Once again, the Bible says "Thou Shall Not Kill" (Exodus 20:13).

I do not advocate cruelty to animals (but yea, I use bug spray). Seriously, I don't advocate cruelty to animals. However, the Bible says it's okay for people to eat meat or to abstain from eating meat if that is their preference (Romans 14:2-3, Genesis 9:1-3, Luke 24:42-43, 1 Tim 4:1-4 and Isaiah 11:6-9. There's an article on www.bible.com that you can read for more info on this topic, please click here). Nobody should be getting killed over that and it's just a few extremist who take things too far. 

However, God can forgive each of these people, but it also requires that the person change their ways. 

I read an article about a man who torched a car dealership because their vehicles are harmful to the environment. Yes, their vehicles are gas guzzlers, but he did not have the authority to destroy their property.

Is it just me or wouldn't torching a dealership mean creating more pollutants and carcinogens that help to destroy the environment, which is what he was against in the first place. Another example of being misled. If you want to help the environment plant a tree, don't torch people's stuff.

- People who believe in and practice voodoo are misled by a false sense of security. They believe it gives them power and it does not. It is actually offensive to God, because its roots lie with the devil and it produces no good. It is apart of the occult and the Bible does not condone it (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:2-5; Deuteronomy 18:9, 2 Kings 21:3, 5; Zephaniah 1:5; Job 31:26-28; Jeremiah 8:1-2  to read article please click here).

There's a true story of a man who had a dispute with another man. One was a Christian and the other was not and believed in voodoo as a means of avenging himself of perceived wrongs. He dabbled in the occult on a regular basis and attempted to send out a curse in the form of a demonic spirit to kill this man who really hadn't done anything to him. He even bragged to people that he had invoked this curse against the man. However the curse did not work…and the man who tried to curse the other man ended up dying of respiratory failure shortly after and nothing happened to the man he tried to curse (I'm not saying people who have respiratory problems did something like that, I'm only telling you what mysteriously happened in that case).

There are lessons you can learn from that story, namely don't play with the occult. God can forgive you if you have, but you need to stop participating in the occult. Those things do exist though most can't see it, because there are spirits behind the occult.

The Christian man went on to become a missionary. In hindsight, it is obvious that God had a plan for that man's life (as He did for the man who was absorbed in the occult, but he chose not to believe in God or doing what was right). He's been helping people and doing good works in his community. Had the other man had his way and arrogantly superseded what God wanted to accomplish through that man's life, he would have died and all the good he ended up doing in the community would not have happened.

Recently, I read a tragic BBC news story about the body of a child being found in London. His body had been dismembered and used in a voodoo ceremony. Authorities believe they drank the child's blood with the misguided belief that it gives them strength. Once again, the Bible says "Thou Shall Not Kill" (Exodus 20:13). It is also a sin to sacrifice children (Leviticus 18:21) and to drink blood (Leviticus 3:17). 

Stories like that are very upsetting. They had no right to do that, yet there are people who claim they are civilized, but they are dabbling in voodoo, witchcraft, ju-ju and Santeria to get back at their enemies and casting spells in an attempt to manipulate and control people. That is the kind of evil they are playing with - the kind of evil that dismembers children for sacrifices. Anything that is associated with such cruelty and depravity is not innocent or harmless, but demonic, so stop playing with it in any form.    

When you go around trying to curse people through voodoo or any form of the occult it is like throwing out a boomerang - you send it out and it will come back around to the person who sent it. Why? Because God's law is not superseded by the occult and He says, "You reap what you sow." Not only is it morally wrong, it opens a door way to things you do not fully understand.

It's also unwise to consult psychics, astrologers, tarots, tea leaf readers and mediums and to use Ouija boards; it is an offense to God (Deuteronomy 18: 10-12). It's like asking the devil for advice. You will be told what will lead you astray, not what is best for you. They can't see the future and their predictions are not to be taken seriously. They bring fear and oppression into people's lives. They make things up that appeal to your weaknesses and your ego to reel you into spending your money.

For example, I'm going to make something up to show you how these people operate:

No one understands you. You've never felt like you belonged.

People admire you. Avoid people who are jealous of you.

Okay, you tell anyone that and they would believe it about themselves, as it appeals to their ego, but it doesn't mean it's true or that the so called psychic has any insight or can see the future. Psychics can't give you an edge; they only play mind games with you that will lead you astray and ruin your life.  

I remember a psychic approached me on the street once and offered to tell me my future. I declined. If she really could see the future she would know that I would say no to her offer because tarots/psychics/the occult because I'm a Christian and the Bible does not condone it.

However, I will concede that there are people out there who can truly see the future, but those people aren't psychics or tarots or involved in the occult, nor do they charge people to tell them what will happen. People who have such gifts are individuals God uses to pray for people because they are in some kind of precarious situation or to speak to people and encourage them to avoid certain mistakes they know will happen to the person if a certain situation doesn't change. God would not give that gift to someone who would charge people a fee for those services, thereby misusing what He has shown them, but to someone who has good intentions. 

The Bible states that the litmus test for those people who can genuinely see the future is that their conduct will be according to what the Bible says is right and what they say/prophesize happens with accuracy. That means without them trying to make it happen or it being muddled.  There are Bible examples of such people; men like the prophet Daniel. But such people don't advertise their gifts or open a psychic hot line. 

Séances is another deception. The Bible warns people not to not communicate with the dead. People who do that are not communicating with the dead, they are communicating with demons mimicking the dead. Not only will it leave you deceived, it will bring demonic spirits into your life and home that will end up agitating and depressing you and your family. It is also not a good idea to speak to the dead either. I know sometimes people speak to their love ones who have passed, but the Bible says it is a sin.

However, God can forgive people who participate in the occult or run occult businesses, but they have to change their ways in addition to asking for forgiveness. 

There's also no such thing as luck, good or bad. The Bible debunks that theory. Things happen for a reason and those reasons vary. 

Sometimes things happen because it is God's plan, but you can make bad choices that lead you astray from where God wants you to be and His purpose for your life, decisions that aren't always easily repaired. There are some choices you can make that will dramatically alter the direction of your life and put you in situations that you never intended. People don't mean for those things to happen to them, but sometimes they do through their bad choices or someone else doing something unethical to them.

Good things happen because of God's blessings (well some people's definition of good is questionable). While bad things do happen, it is usually due to other people's unethical actions (which does return to them - what goes around comes around) because of a person's bad decisions or because of the devil.

DOUBLE MESSAGES

Another form of religious deception is entertainers sending double messages to their audience. This is dangerous, as it has the appearance of being good when it is not.

My little sister sent me a link to a web site she got off of a message board. The site is about recording artists sending double messages through their music and their lifestyle. Professing faith in God, but living otherwise. The author dissects their music, to read it please click here.

You can't be a child of God, but live like the devil. If you do you are deceived and need to change your ways and ask God for forgiveness.

Singers do not have to use explicit lyrics and or and suggestive clothing to sell records. There are artists who are clothed and do not use explicit lyrics and still sell more records than the people who do. It is not out of necessity and so many people are being negatively affected and misled by it.

As much as God loves you, He does not approve of that. It's spreading negative messages that He never intended. People may put whatever spin on it they choose, but they are accountable to God for the people they affect negatively or contrarily to what He said is right. 

I've seen entertainers make excuses for this and none of those excuses are valid. Trying to blur lines in order to justify one's behavior is not a good idea; neither is putting a spin on the Bible. The Bible is not something to play with as it is sacred and has an amazing way of preserving its integrity.

You ever watch films where they tell you something is cursed (I'm not saying those artists are). A lot of those story lines borrow from the Bible. However, playing with the word of God or religious items is not a good idea. The Bible is not some archaic, accidental book (Archaeology and prophecy that has happened has proven it to be very accurate). 

The Bible is referred to as The Living Word of God and for a reason. There is a verse in the Bible that poignantly sums it up "…I am watching to see that My word is fulfilled. (Jeremiah 1:12)" There's a reason people reap what they sow, there's a reason historical events have been predicted and confirmed by the Bible.

God watches everyone and everything and will not allow his Words to be profaned. Therefore, for your own sake, stop misleading people.

People sometimes take God's mercy for granted. His silence is not approval or Him overlooking it. That is what is known as grace. God loves you, cares about you and is granting you a chance to change your ways. However, that time is not guaranteed and to miss that grace is inexplicably terrible. 

A few years ago, Mason Betha was a rapper on Bad boy records. He signed a record deal and became famous off of selling music with explicit and derogatory lyrics. He explained how God showed him that he was setting a bad example. When people say that, it means God speaking to you in your heart and through the Bible.

Here's an excerpt from Mason's web site:

Then, one day God spoke to him saying, “You’re walking millions of My people to hell and every time you enter into another city and open your mouth, more people join-in, unaware" (Excerpt from http://www.sanechurch.org/ ).

I've thought that about certain singers for years. They go out there and set a bad example. Some don't know better, but some do. Some are told of the negative effect their actions have on their audience, but they still refuse to change.

Mason went on to say that God encouraged him to go back to the places that he went to spreading that negative message and preach a positive one in its place.

Mason's story is admirable. He walked away from the fame at the height of his success. I applaud him for leaving while his career was doing well. That took character. Some wait until they fall to turn to God for help and to change their ways, which I'm not questioning, as I'm happy for anyone who changes their life for the better regardless of their situation, but it's commendable that he walked away from it when he was doing well. Mason chose to leave the industry, but you can still set a good example in the business - a person doesn’t have to leave it, but rather clean up their act.

Some people like Mase accept that grace God offers and change their ways, while others put it off saying they'll change later (not knowing how much time they have) or do some act of charity in an effort to atone or in their mind compensate for the damage their work does, when the bad example outweighs the good. Charity is good, but your actions must be right as well.

God is  loving, kind and merciful, but he addresses sin. He does chastise people for their sins. It's in the Bible. It's all over the Bible and was put there as a warning to people. You can accept that chastisement as correction, the way a parent disciplines a child who errs and change your ways or you can refuse to change and the grace of God will run out.

Don't get me wrong, bad things happen to good people and it doesn't necessarily mean that God is punishing them. 

It's not about money or being famous, it's about morality and God values that more than anyone living their dream of being famous at the price of other people's moral well being. 

So many times impressionable kids and adults pattern their lives after entertainers. They see in them what they perceive as success, but what God deems a moral failure. They look at entertainers and think they know what they are doing when many of them don't and have sold out moral values cheaply in favor of money and seeing their face plastered everywhere. Sadly, they don't have to do that to be successful, but they believe otherwise. 

Some put on a mask and don't tell you the misery they face because of the things they've done, but behind the scenes their actions have caused them great suffering and turmoil. This is not something you want to emulate. You see the glamorous side, but you don't see the misery some of these artists face due to their questionable decisions.

I implore you not to follow certain entertainer's bad examples. It looks like fun at first, but when the consequences surface it isn't fun anymore.

I remember when the album "The Chronic" was released in the 90's and kids started wearing the shirts with the marijuana leaf on it, throwing up gang signs and smoking weed. A music trend influenced many people in a bad way. I remember seeing other kids at school wearing the shirts and carrying around marijuana sticks. They thought it looked so cool. They were destroying their brain cells. I'm not condemning any of the artists that were associated with it because God can forgive them if they ask.

Some artists tell you how great getting high is, but don't tell you about the after effects. They tell you how much fun it is to drink and how cool they look with a bottle of liquor in their hand, but they don't tell you about things like sclerosis of the liver. Why? It doesn't sound cool in a song or video, but it is a very real side effect.

I've seen commercials by the company Phillip Morris imploring people not to smoke and informing them of the steps they've taken to create awareness of the dangers associated with cigarettes. For years what was promoted as cool, suddenly became cancerous.

Yet, there are still a few teenage entertainers who started smoking after the campaign. Why?

That is by no means setting a good example. Some of them are tired of their kiddy image and want to shed it…and sadly their clothes as well. They aren't thinking about your welfare. They are thinking about themselves, what will make people take them seriously, what will work for their career so they can continue to see their face plastered all over your TV screen. 

Another example of religious deception by entertainers is Madonna incorporating the Kaballah into the children's book she released. In her vain attempt to become an author, she is teaching children what Judaic scholars have condemned as a sect filled with mind games. Reviews by librarians, teachers and critics indicate that the book is not good. I know it may seems as though authoring a children's book is simple and a quick way to gain credibility, but it is not as easy as it looks. As I wrote on this page on May 5th, 2003, be careful what you teach people, especially children, as God will hold you accountable for it if it is contrary to what He says is appropriate. The Kabala is full of mind games and should not be taught to children in any form.   

Madonna has not changed and is still the same self-centered, attention seeking individual she was before. If she cared so much about the kids, she would not have went on the MTV awards at the respectable hour of 8PM and kissed two young female singers on stage who are young enough to be her daughters. Not to mention her perverse performance was ushered in by her own impressionable child. There were articles which reported kids who watched the show were "grossed out" at the whole spectacle and parents who were furious that it was shown without a parental advisory warning. 

She is not someone that should be trying, with emphasis on trying as she is not an author, to write children's books especially about morality, as she has consistently proven she greatly lacks it. The book only sold 8,000 copies in England (in contrast to Beckham's autobiography which came in at number one selling roughly 200,000 copies for the week) and sold an average 57,000 copies in America. Hopefully those copies were purchased by her adult fans and not given to children, though it's not good for them either. As with all of her work, the book is a love letter to and about herself, ridden with false humility and self-pity. 

In closing, some artists only want you to buy their products, but for audiences it's never that simple. They are looking at entertainers as friends, people they can relate to and learn from when sadly it is not always a good idea. There are some wonderful entertainers out there that truly give back and set a good example, but there are many who don't.

Many entertainers have clearly shown that their priority is to sell records regardless of what it does to society. They aren't concerned about your moral welfare, because if they were they would not put out such questionable material.

Stick to what God says is right. Anyone who knows better and clearly goes against what God says is right is not someone you should look to for inspiration or instruction for your own life. Stop using entertainers as your role models, lest they lead you astray and cost you your soul when you die because you kept following them in an example that was wrong instead of trying to change your ways.   

Even if you don't believe in God (you have bad taste) logic would tell you that it's not good for anyone to constantly be bombarded with lyrics and music videos that degrade women or lyrics about drinking, smoking, being materialistic and irrational. And that's what a lot of those lyrics contain. That stuff will start to rub off. How is it a good thing for adults, let alone children, to be bombarded with such material on a daily basis? And that is what is happening. It's not a matter of being prudish or pious, it's the understanding that such exposure ends up being conditioning and will have negative effects.

How is that good for anyone...other than the artists who are making money off it. Making money that way comes at a price. It is by no means a respectable way to earn a living. 

   

 

 


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