adrian is rad


an interesting article

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:20 pm

GQ, of all magazines, has an article about a giant Christian rock festival call Creation. It’s lengthy and sort of interesting.

As someone who’s never seen the appeal of “Christian rock,” even to Christians, I took some particular joy in this passage:

That’s the last thing I’ll be saying about the bands.

Or, no, wait, there’s this: The fact that I didn’t think I heard a single interesting bar of music from the forty or so acts I caught or overheard at Creation shouldn’t be read as a knock on the acts themselves, much less as contempt for the underlying notion of Christians playing rock. 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.” As such, it rewards both obviousness and maximum palatability (the artists would say clarity), which in turn means parasitism. Remember those perfume dispensers they used to have in pharmacies—”If you like Drakkar Noir, you’ll love Sexy Musk”? Well, Christian rock works like that. Every successful crappy secular group has its Christian off-brand, and that’s proper, because culturally speaking, it’s supposed to serve as a stand-in for, not an alternative to or an improvement on, those very groups. In this it succeeds wonderfully. If you think it profoundly sucks, that’s because your priorities are not its priorities; you want to hear something cool and new, it needs to play something proven to please…while praising Jesus Christ. 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.” … In most cases, bands like these make a very, very careful effort not to be seen as playing “Christian rock.”… And here, if I can drop the open-minded pretense real quick, is where the stickier problem of actually being any good comes in, because a question that must be asked is whether a hard-core Christian who turns 19 and finds he or she can write first-rate songs (someone like Damien Jurado) would ever have anything whatsoever to do with Christian rock. Talent tends to come hand in hand with a certain base level of subtlety. And believe it or not, the Christian-rock establishment sometimes expresses a kind of resigned approval of the way groups like U2 … [These bands] 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.

Then again, it likely falls into the same trap that he accuses Christian rock of falling into: preaching to the converted. (I can’t imagine the average GQ reader to like Christian rock).

Much of the article is about five (I think five) crazy friends from West Virginia that the author meets and hangs out with. There are some interesting happenings.

I like that their relationship ends like this:

Darius said God bless me, with meaning eyes. Then he said, “Hey, man, if you write about us, can I just ask one thing?”

“Of course,” I said.

“Put in there that we love God,” he said. “You can say we’re crazy, but say that we love God.”

Overall the article is a pretty good read. It falls into some of the usual traps of misinterpreting Christians and Christianity, but surprisingly, the overall effect is not slamming either.

2 Responses to “an interesting article”

  1. Alex Says:

    Perhaps this illustrates some of my inexperience with articles about Christianity, but what are some of the “usual traps” which this article (or articles in general) falls into?

  2. adrian is rad » Body Piercing Saved My Life Says:

    […] It’s a look at Christian Rock, capital C, capital R, by an outsider. Beaujon is a writer for Spin so he comes from the mainstream rock criticism side of things. I’ve never been really involved in the scene he talks about although I stood at the edge of it a couple years, so I’m a bit of an outsider to it as well. (Which reminds me of a post about an article of the same topic and perspective…) […]

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