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Body piercing saved my life.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Journalist Andrew Beaujon has published an excellent, detailed exploration of the underbelly of Christian music and evangelical subculture. We’d recommend this book anyway, because it is a meticulous, generous, and often funny treatment of a subject that usually garners a lot of pointing and laughing but not much in the way of substantive research. But we also recommend it because it devotes an entire chapter to Beaujon’s experience at 2005’s Festival of Faith and Music. Student Activities guru Ken Heffner is quoted extensively, and the chapter’s conclusion is poignant and challenging. Check out passages like this one:

It was too easy, I decided, to look down on Christians struggling with whether to engage the world outside. If you were raised, as David Bazan was for example, in a Christian culture where you had to twist yourself into intellectual knots trying to figure out a way to enjoy non-church-sanctioned music that nonetheless spoke to you, it’s a radical idea to allow yourself to look for God in the work of, say, Lil’ Flip. ...

Surely there must be limits to this approach. Is the divine revealed in John Waters films? Okay, bad joke. But what about in porn? In music explicitly hostile to religion? And are kids who’ve grown up experiencing every innovation in music, every film, every television show through the filter of evangelical Christianity, with its insistence on absolute truth, really going to have the tools to be as discerning as Ken Heffner wants them to become?

That, of course, is exactly why we’re doing the stuff we’re trying to do at Calvin, and I’m thankful that Beaujon got a glimpse into a different side of the Christian subculture.

This post already contains far too many fawning adjectives, so go ahead and pick up Beaujon’s ably-written study. You can also check out his blog, Body Piercing Saved My Life, which is already packed with interviews and reviews. (I recommend his personal blog for regular reading and sharp music criticism as well.)