The 1 and 3


Nobody doubts that music is powerful stuff. It can delight you or sadden you or (if accompanied by the right set of words) make you want to buy large amounts of laundry detergent.

Fundamentalists take this principle even one step further by proclaiming that unless used in Southern Gospel music, placing the beat anywhere but the 1st and 3rd note causes involuntary muscle movement that results in dancing, pregnancy, dyed green hair, and referring to ones father as “my old man.”

What’s more these “unnatural” rhythms cause your body’s normal function to break down causing the heart to beat at an unnatural pace. Even house plants (who at last check don’t have hearts) will shrivel up and die if exposed to these awful “rock” beats — especially if you’re too busy dancing and getting pregnant to water them.

Putting the beat on the 2 and 4 causes the body to release endorphins which are also what moths secrete when they want to have sex. No…wait, those are called pheromones. Anyway, endorphins are something chemical and most likely something more or less like heroin which accounts for why these awful beats are so popular even if they do make the listener’s heart beat in unnatural ways.

It’s a wonder anyone survives a trip to to supermarket…

31 thoughts on “The 1 and 3”

  1. You’re too funny Darrell, you definitely have a gift to point out the silliness of fundies. I never have understood this one…I mean, who really cares where the flippin (minced oath…sorry) beat is 1,2,3 ,4,5,6…obviously, I know nothing about music.

  2. Hilarious stuff! I am a fundamentalist, and remember most of the stuff you write about.

  3. I found the house plant reference especially funny since I heard that stupid story so many times growing up (usually from a traveling evangelist railing on the inherent dangers of rock and roll).

  4. Don’t forget the African drumbeats and their demonic influences on . I never figured out why the African drumbeats didn’t influence folks like Gold City, the Cathedrals, etc.

  5. I’m having a bit of back and forth about this particular piece over here.

    Thought some might find it interesting…

  6. Wow. I knew this already thanks in part to my experiences editing a newsletter at BJU, but satire is NOT among the Stuff Fundies Like. You might, by the way, do a post on the word “fleshly.”

  7. “fleshly” is a good one.

    “biblical” is another one worth thinking about.

  8. Ah, the house plants. A staple of Christian school science projects in the 70s and 80s.

    I had a friend who did this one — instant brownie points with the teacher. Well, until the hard rock plant thrived, and the Moody Radio plant died. 😉

    1. I did this as a science fair project in 8th grade!!! Nothing I did with music or reading had any effect on any of the plants, though.

  9. Yeah, good luck with your back and forth. I’ve been down that road and quite frankly, find it tiring, repetitive (on both sides of the argument) and doesn’t get anyone anywhere within spitting distance of a common understanding (notice I didn’t say agreement).

  10. One of my problems with fundamentalism is that it doesn’t allow room for irony, symbolism, satire, hyperbole, etc. Everything is to be taken literally and seriously . . . except for the Song of Solomon, of course.

    1. I am not alone in my theory that satire, sarcasm, irony and humor are lost on fundies.

      Must complete data sets faster to publish my works 1st 😆

  11. In the words of Audio Adrenaline:

    “Once I read a book, and this is what it said,
    ‘If your music has a beat, then your gonna wind up dead.
    It doesn’t really matter if its Christian or not,
    If its syncopated rhythm then your soul is gonna rot.’
    And this book was called ‘AH YOUR GONNA BURN'”

    Good song. (Oh wait, did I just reference a Christian rock song? Where’d that come from?)

    And Darrell, don’t forget the ubiquitous “worldly.” I cannot for the life of me hear that word in anything other than the fundy sense, even if I know that the person saying it is not using it in the fundy way.

  12. Mark: I would argue that fundies also allow for a symbolic reading of Revelation, along with Song of Solomon (in spite of their claims to the contrary).

  13. After reading the above posts, another word comes to mind–carnal. I must have heard that word a hundred times in the few short years I belonged to a fundy church.

  14. Amanda:

    I’ve never been in a fundy church that saw Revelation as symbolic. The seven churches were local churches in our town, the Beast and Antichrist were specific people, etc.

    Hmm. I guess that is symbolism, but what I mean is that there was never a purely spiritual interpretation. There was always a specific person or group for every event or person mentioned; Revelation could not be read metaphorically or spiritually.

  15. In the early 80’s, as I rode my 10-speed to the Gym, I would pray for protection from “Satan and his Demons” that doublessly were embedded in all that evil rock music eminating from the speakers in the weight room – all that satanic rock, from Boy George to Micheal Jackson, from Huey Lewis and the News and Men at Work (that evil saxaphone in “Who can it be Now”!) to Steve Perry and his love them to Satan in his song “Oh, Sherrie” (the name “Sherrie” was just to fool folks into thinking it was about a girl named Sherrie when it was really about the Devil – that certain guitar riff gave the satanism away!).
    Yup, and anytime I was riding in the car w/my Dad & little bros, I would have to be vigilant lest tunes such as Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night” and Journey’s “Desperate Ways” would secretly brainwash me with their demonic power.
    The crazy part is, I am not joking, I was really taught to think this way!

  16. does anybody remember the video “Hells Bells”? it featured this guy with a mullet who gave examples of satanism in “rock music” (incidentally, i’ve never once heard rock referred to as “rock music” outside of fundy circles, but that’s another rant). That video, along with “The Backward Masking Tape” introduced me to some of the greatest music. It’s reasonable to think that I would have beenn turned on to the Beatles or Led Zeppelin eventually, but without those videos and tapes, I probably would have been nunaware of them for a number of years. You can watch “Hells Bells” on You Tube. I highly recommend it.

  17. Mark said:
    One of my problems with fundamentalism is that it doesn’t allow room for irony, symbolism, satire, hyperbole, etc.

    In a word “life”
    Fundys have forgotten how to live outside their spiritual bunkers.

  18. I attended a Bible college during the school of year fall ’08 and spring ’09 and took a “Philosophy of Music” in the spring semester. A portion of the semester was about the “1 and 3”.

    Notes about the “1 and 3” during my class (I kept all my notes when I attended there):

    “What is a rock beat?
    1 (big 2) 3 (big 4) – Emphasis is on the 2nd and 4th beat (4/4 time)
    (big 1) 2 (big 3) 4 – exciting
    1 2 3 4 – boring

    If it takes away from the main beat, then it is a rock beat”

    A portion of a class hour where we talked about Jazz:

    3 Elements to Jazz Music

    Strong syncopated rhythms
    Reliance on improvisation on set themes
    Shared heritage

    Storyville – part of New Orleans
    Louie Armstrong
    JAZZ IS SATAN WORSHIP!!! <— My teacher said that (just not with the emphasis I placed)

    What questions should you ask yourself regarding music:

    What is the mood of the music?
    What are the words?
    Who are the people performing the music? What is their background and testimony?
    Does it remind you of questionable things or places?

  19. Just wanted to clarify that, although I call myself a “fundie”, I also believe that fundies just places too much significance on standards and not enough on holiness. My music class, when I took it, had soooo many debates about retarded songs. One time the teacher played the first 10 seconds the Gaither’s rendition of “The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference”. He asked (as always) if there was anything wrong with the song. And people would raise their hands and say things like, “His singing sounded sensual/breathy/like he was praising himself and not God/etc”. People need to realize that we do have Christian liberties and there is not a set standard for all Christians to abide by when it comes to things not commanded in the Bible, like music.

  20. I remember being scared as a child to listen to rock music cause I thought the different beats were going to mess with my heart and kill me.

  21. Does anyone remember “Sketch” Erickson? He used to come to our church every few years with a slideshow and play excerpts of rock music badly distorted by turning it up too high for his cheap sound system and 40 watt speakers. That just goes to show you how evil it is. Is he still around? I would tell you his first name, but I think it’s classified or something.

  22. I am just now leaving the pastorate at a fundy church. I thought I was conservative (still feel I am)but these people are nuts! SFL has given me much needed comic relief. TY

  23. As I was in the process of leaving the last fundy-style (not Hyles-like-loony, but bad enough) church I ever will attend, I met the pastor for lunch to discuss our departure. For some reason which I don’t remember, the subject of contemporary music came up and he started to go on about this vary thing – that the beat of the music somehow conveys a sense of immorality. I felt like saying, “CHECK PLEASE!”

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