By Nathan Jones
Does music have the power to move people to action? Can sadistic lyrics be tuned out of one's mind? Does music define or reflect a culture?
Lamb & Lion Ministries interviewed one of today's foremost defenders of the faith, Eric Barger, the founder and director of Take a Stand! Ministries headquartered in the Dallas area. Dr. James Kennedy once told his congregation everyone needs to read Eric Barger's insights. And, the late national radio host Marlene Maddox called Eric one of the utmost authorities on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become one of today's greatest defenders of Christianity in America.
We asked Eric to share his experiences as a musician and producer and asked what he has learned concerning the power of music.
You say that rock ‘n roll music of old is nothing compared to what we are exposed to today. What do you mean?
The music may be somewhat similar in the way it is constructed chord-wise, but that is about it. The lifestyle is the thing that got me. I was being role modeled by the rock musicians while I was going to church as a child and did all those things. But, when I started playing in bands on Friday and Saturday nights, suddenly I wasn't going to church on Sunday morning. Even if a person is not an authentic born again Christian, but yet just a church member, if the Devil can separate you from Christian fellowship then he's got you right where he wants you — isolated.
By the time I was 16 I was the only kid in my high school taking drugs, mind you this is 1966 at this point and time. I was the first kid to get kicked out my high school for having hair touching his ears, to give you an idea of what era I lived in. We lived in a much more conservative era in general back then. But, something happened in the 1960's with the summer of love and all the stuff that took place, though in actually it was the summer of hedonism, but it was called the "Summer of Love." Woodstock was in 1967.
I look back at that era and realize that the music wasn't so much as the lifestyle and the rebellion and the anarchy that was being brought into it. The most rebellious song on the radio when I was a little, little boy was probably, "It's My Party and I Will Cry if I Want To."
But, look at today. What we've got as drugs and sex are the main issue in the music today, as well as rebellion and counter culture. Rape, violence and murder — these are the things being sung about. It is telling a story about violence. It is saying, "Go and do it!" And, whether our kids are going and doing it or not, it is part of the culture we are in. But, you listen to that enough and you begin to realize that the culture is beginning to act these things out.
And, it's not just music. The film industry with all of their violence and immorality in films, they come back and say, "Oh, you think that is going to have an impact on somebody just watching a two hour movie?" Hey, people pay millions of dollars for a one minute ad which can affect behavior. Advertising works, otherwise they wouldn't be doing it. Nobody would be spending that money at the Super Bowl if people were not affected. And, even video games and the Internet, well that has a little bit of all of that involved.
When did you begin to see American culture change for the worse?
I remember when the Beatles came to the United States, and they seemed so innocent and so much fun and all that. But, I remember when they came out with that album where they are all standing around the grave of the Beatles. Well, that was really a symbolism of the fact they were changing their whole course and that they were going to go into Eastern mystical experiences and bring that into the culture. I have said for years I don't think we would have the New Age movement in the same effect that we have it today had it not been integrated into the culture through the Beatles, and the work of the Beach Boys and a couple of major actors and actresses, who really westernized those things and brought the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to America. Through them transcendental meditation became the standard to those people and to that era.
Those groups are what probably got me involved with looking into Eastern Mysticism as a religion instead of looking to my basis in Christianity, which I did have a basis in. The Beatles and Beach Boys and some of the other groups in that era affected those who are now our presidents and congressmen and senators and judges. And, that may be part of the problem we've got in the culture. The permissiveness of that time and lack of standards where the anchor for the world. Truth and right and wrong have been moved so greatly that we can't figure out what truth is anymore.
What is the message of much of the music of today?
There are no standards.
No standards make it so that you are your own God, and of course that is the heart of the New Age philosophy. The New Age movement is looking for spiritual experiences through Eastern Mystic philosophies. That is also the bottom line for humanism, which would never claim that there is a God anyway, but they become their own God by saying there is none.
How can parents help their children avoid falling for this false message?
It is so important for parents to be aware of what their kids are listening to. I don't think that most parents are really aware what they are listening to.
I have said for a long time that I think if a child or teenager lives in your home and under your roof that it is your responsibility to find out what is going on in their room. I will never forget after a meeting in Saskatchewan one night maybe 20 years ago, when a group of ladies came to the alter with a lady who was so broken she could barely walk up there herself. She was crying and I came down as we were finished with the meeting. I came down off the platform and I asked one of the ladies, "What is wrong with this lady, what is going on here?" And they said, "Her son committed suicide." And I said, "What happened?" And she said, "She hadn't been in his room for two years, and when they broke the door down they found him dead with a shotgun. They found ceremonial knives, the room was all painted black, and he had all the occult books. He had a pentagram painted on the floor. The mother had no idea he was practicing the occult and was maybe a satanist."
I think parents need to get involved with what their kids are listening to. Let's warn people to be careful and just don't take the sound of the music and think that is all you have to be concerned with. Let's look at the philosophy being taught by it, because as a musician I knew the power of music.
Now, I recorded people who went on to Grammy Awards, like Kenny G for one, and the group Queensryche. I helped do the tape that got their record deal for them. I look at those and I think of the power of their influence.
Queensryche, by the way, was the first group that I ever saw that encouraged people to follow a global government and a one world order. Originally, I had no idea. I saw a quote from their lead singer about five years after they made it, and this is a terrifically talented guy, but he said we are just here to try to encourage kids and the people that listen to us, that they should follow a one world government. They said that would be the thing that will solve all of our problems. I mean, I had no idea.