Bags of Bran


Carbon Credits for Liturgical Innovators
September 26, 2014, 10:40 am
Filed under: Biography, Destined to get me in trouble

I am fairly certain that CCLI stands for “Carbon Credits for Liturgical Innovators,” and that the proper thing to do is to use their renewal notice as a liner for a parakeet’s cage.

No no, I understand. The good, honest folks at CCLI just want to make sure that if I wanted to make twenty-five photocopies of something out of the Oxford Hymnal that was arranged in 1930, Casting Crowns are getting fairly compensated. Therefore, they’ve offered to provide me some shelter, for an immodest fee, in case Casting Crowns were to decide to sue me for making twenty-five photocopies of a 1930 arrangement. That must be a real problem, for which I ought to be profoundly thankful that the good folks at CCLI, whom I’m absolutely certain know exactly what it’s like to be the extremely conservative pastor of a church of thirty or so conservative people. That’s why they’ve also teased me with access to “all the top CCLI songs.”

The problem is not that there isn’t plenty of Bible to condemn this racket: it’s that the lucrative subculture known as evangelicalism would rather rock out than be troubled with Bible. It’s kind of a dear, distinguishing evangelical characteristic, and kind of always has been, even long before the days of electric guitars. Certain inviolable laws of capitalism dictate that someone will come along, build a fence around, and sell tickets to something that exists at the base impulse level, such as the impulse to rock out. Keeping Evangelical Celebrities in hair styling products, stage lighting, and Les Pauls takes lots of money, and CCLI has agreed to step in and make sure that fair compensation is properly channeled from churches into the coffers of the EC’s.

Zacchaeus was truly as one born out of due time.

As you can probably picture, sitting on my desk is a renewal notice for CCLI which tells me that I’ve actually been covered the whole time I’ve been here (since June). “You mean we could have been crooning the latest bestsellers from the Sovereign Gaithers, all scrunchy-faced with our armpits exposed, for lo these three months???” Evidently. But at the moment I’m in the uncomfortable position, right here and now, of having to decide whether I ought to do this to save the church some infamy.

What if there was a song written, arranged, or published after copyright law that I wanted to introduce to my congregation? There is yet a remnant… do I save myself some hassle and buy a license for the four or five songs, maybe, per year, that I might potentially use? Otherwise I would have to get rights from the publisher to make copies of it. That would be four or five letters to write per year. Hmm… Spend $160 for my church of 30 people to have Carbon Credits for Liturgical Innovators coverage for a year, or write four or five letters?

I wonder what Martin Luther would have thought of this.

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[…] that music is one of those things upon which a church could spend a whole lot of money. I wrote elsewhere a while back about my seething wrath toward CCLI, then dialed back my indignation after learning […]

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