Why is it so terrible, anyway? Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas has some thoughts:
It’s a marketing issue first and foremost. What makes someone a “Christian recording artist”? It’s as simple as this: they’re being marketed to the Christian subculture. To do this, their music typically must explicitly mention God and should elicit a devotional emotional response. And from Christian radio, it seems that the music should also be “uplifting” or “edifying.” Another facet of CCM is that it’s often marketed as a squeaky-clean alternative to secular music. Anyone else remember those CCM catalogs that would say, “Do you like Dr. Dre? You’ll LOVE DC Talk!” etc.
So what does that have to do with the sad state of “Christian music”? Well, the requirements for a song to qualify as “Christian” are creatively limiting. They narrow the themes an artist can address and how they can address them. As a Catholic, my faith of course should saturate my life. However, that doesn’t mean that anything I write is explicitly related to Catholic doctrine or my relationship with God. We should certainly see the world in light of our faith, but art can (and should?) be more nuanced than what can be easily marketed because it mentions Jesus a certain number of times.
So I think we need to carefully consider the problematic nature of Christian marketing and how it limits and dumbs down art. I think we need to question whether we are making Christian art or whether we are Christians making good art.
Flanner O’Connor said “When people have told me that because I am a Catholic, I cannot be an artist, I have had to reply ruefully, that because I am a Catholic, I cannot afford to be less than an artist.”