Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Christian Music

I'm working on reading this GQ article, which is well-written and entertaining, but long, about the writer's trip to the Creation Festival. I am hesitant to post about something I haven't finished, but the truth is I'll be taking it in stages, and I don't want to forget about this part. Anyway, I stopped paying much attention to the "CCM Establishment" around when I went to college, as far as I can tell. I still have some affection for bands and singers that might be classified CCM, but I'm largely ignorant and I like it that way.

This guy, though, hits the nail on the head why people like me get disillusioned by CCM, and expresses it beautifully:

These were not Christian bands, you see; these were Christian-rock bands. The key to digging this scene lies in that one-syllable distinction. Christian rock is a genre that exists to edify and make money off of evangelical Christians. It's message music for listeners who know the message cold, and, what's more, it operates under a perceived responsibility—one the artists embrace—to "reach people." ... That's Christian rock. A Christian band, on the other hand, is just a band that has more than one Christian in it. U2 is the exemplar, held aloft by believers and nonbelievers alike, but there have been others through the years, bands about which people would say, "Did you know those guys were Christians? I know—it's freaky. They're still fuckin' good, though." The Call was like that; Lone Justice was like that. These days you hear it about indie acts like Pedro the Lion and Damien Jurado (or P.O.D. and Evanescence—de gustibus). In most cases, bands like these make a very, very careful effort not to be seen as playing "Christian rock." ...And believe it or not, the Christian-rock establishment sometimes expresses a kind of resigned approval of the way groups like U2 or Switchfoot... take quiet pains to distance themselves from any unambiguous Jesus-loving, recognizing that this is the surest way to connect with the world (you know that's how they refer to us, right? We're "of the world"). So it's possible—and indeed seems likely—that Christian rock is a musical genre, the only one I can think of, that has excellence-proofed itself. (emphasis mine)

Yeah! He's got it totally figured out - Christian music isn't about music at all. It's about selling a message. It's about packaging, and advertising, and making Jesus "appealing". So of course Christian Music Makeover is going to happen. Becuase packaging is what it's all about. And offering a sanatized, spiritualized version of whatever is popular in mass culture.

I'm reminded of Don Miller being suspicious of Christians who are acting like they're trying to sell you Jesus, instead of just be your friend. But of course, it's more complicated than that. Because I think Mr Sullivan experienced real kindness and friendliness from people at Creationfest too. Of course, he hits the implicit ivory-towerness pretty clearly. It's a tension I suppose. But I'm suspicious of this whole christian marketing industry in general. Seems to be going about things the wrong way.

1 comment:

Terry Finley said...
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