Tuesday, May 6, 2008

In God We Trust (Our Profits)

Last year, I posted about the topic of my distaste for Christian rock music because of its general standing as a weak imitation of the regular product. At the time I said:

Perhaps the problem is that so many churches deem all other rock music to be evil, and consequently these young bands haven't heard enough good music from which to build. Or maybe the bands just can't shake the guilty thoughts that their own music might be riding the line, and they may be playing their way to hell.
Today, Slate featured a book summary of Daniel Radosh's Rapture Ready. The book is about the parallel universe that evangelicals have set up to mirror the real world. The article is very interesting, but on the subject of music there is a particularly fascinating point about Christian music. Not only is the music crappy, but it could lead to a crisis of faith for its consumers.

For faith, the results can be dangerous. A young Christian can get the idea that her religion is a tinny, desperate thing that can't compete with the secular culture. A Christian friend who'd grown up totally sheltered once wrote to me that the first time he heard a Top 40 station he was horrified, and not because of the racy lyrics: "Suddenly, my lifelong suspicions became crystal clear," he wrote. "Christian subculture was nothing but a commercialized rip-off of the mainstream, done with wretched quality and an apocryphal insistence on the sanitization of reality."
My first reaction to that is the horrific thought that it was a Top 40 station that created this revelation. That is a pretty serious indictment of Christian music in itself. But I also think the point is important. It's sort of the equivalent of corporations trying to do counter-culture or 50 year olds trying to talk slang with teenagers. It always ends up seeming empty.

The more important point may be that this really is just an extension of the marketization of everything. Do it for Jesus, or at least a few Franklins.

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