Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Body Piercing

I just read "Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock" by Andrew Beaujon. I was turned on to this book when I noticed it's title on the sidebar of Bob Kauflin's blog. I Googled it and read an excerpt on Amazon and was hooked. Now I'm not about to spend the $12 + dollars to buy it, so I checked my library's catalog (online - don't you just love the Internet!) and sure enough they had it! So a few weeks later I checked it out and began reading.

A quick disclaimer is that the author is a self-described non-Christian. So realize that his views are a bit jaded and his language is less than "holy," but his description of the Christian rock scene is in-depth (historical at times) and very interesting. He struggled getting all the access he desired for this book, but none-the-less gives a thought-provoking outsider's look inside.

Besides detailing the behind-the-scenes of Christian Rock Festivals (Cornerstone, Lifefest, etc . . .), the author scored some great interviews with some of Christian rock's biggest stars. Mind you, if you aren't into the heavier Christian music scene, most of the names mentioned will be unfamiliar, but realize that most young kids who listen to this type of music will recognize almost all of the groups. He also spends a considerable amount of time discussing the modern "worship" movement with it's history and present day stars. When the author first starts to experience worship, he rightly so, feels left out and uninspired. I personally think this speaks to the fact that worship music isn't meant to win people to Christ. It is music written by Christ-followers for Christ-followers. Some of his critique of this genre, in particular, made me angry, because of the truth of the market's incessant drive to make money, and much impressed me. I particularly liked his interview with David Crowder and it caused me to spend some more time checking out his music.

On the other side of that, I was deeply disturbed and angry at some of the interviewees who make music in Christ's name and seem to have nothing to do with Him otherwise. It was an eye-opener to read about some of the "christian" groups out there and reaffirms my belief that you should try to get to know artists before you buy. As anyone can attest, attending a concert can make or break you on a particular artist or band. Somehow seeing them interact with the audience gives you a better glimpse into either their "ministry" or "show." This worked in the negative way when I saw Philips, Craig and Dean in concert and positively when I saw the Newsboys. I'm sure if you ever have been to a concert that you know what I am talking about.

The author made some soul-baring quotes in the book, one of which was this:

“I liked these people, enjoyed their company, and they’d made me feel completely welcome. But it bothered me that I wasn’t a Christian and would never be one. They embraced me like they hope to embrace culture, but I’m still not sure how hard either of us can hug them back.”(p. 137)

Also: "I was on the plane home before I realized that I'd been working on this project for 6 months, and it was the first time anyone had tried to evangelize me."(p.168)

And concerning a David Crowder Band concert: "There was only one star at that evening's show, and he hadn't been onstage at all."(p.245)

All in all, I am glad I read this book. It was revealing and disturbing at times, but necessary. If you are at all interested in the Christian music scene, this is worth your time to read. And if you have a teenager, this would be a great book to read along with them and discuss the author's bias and some of the artist's perspectives.


G-Knee said...

Donette, thank you for that insightful book recommendation! Seriously, I appreciate it!

Name: Karen said...

Ditto G-Knee's comment. Im interested in how your view changed after seeing those to artists PCD and Newsboys. I've seen PCD (many moons ago) never Newsboys.

My views changed after seeing MWS in concert. I often wonder if it's a show aimed at making money or if it truly is the artist desire to glorify the name of Christ? I am going to check this book out.

Do you know why an unbeliever wrote this book about "christian rock"?

Donette said...

G-knee, anytime, girl! I love to read and love to share my opinions even more!

Karen, I got the distinct impression at my one PCD concert that they thought pretty highly of themselves, Randy Phillips, especially. He was flippant and cocky and it just totally turned me off (in the general sense!)

As for the Newsboys, I was already a fan, and a bit nervous about seeing them because I didn't want my feelings about them to change! But they only changed for the better. The lead singer gave his testimony and it resonated with me (raised in legalism, walked away from God for a time) and they had fun while still being respectful. And they encouraged us to sing along with the worship songs and spent a great deal of time on the importance of accountability and small groups. I don't know if that adequately gives justice to why I like them so much, but the concert did nothing to deter my appreciation of them. And anyone who listens to Newsboys knows that they have some silly songs (like Breakfast Club), but they are serious about their ministry.

I also saw Jeremy Camp at that concert (like him a lot) and Rebecca St. James (not so much). I realize this is all my opinion, but there it is.

And to your 2nd question - the author is a journalist for Spin Magazine and writes a lot about the rock music scene and just was intrigued by the phenomenon of Christian rock (thus the subtitle) and how big it has gotten.

Oh, I've seen MWS in concert too, last year. His father-in-law had just died the day before so he was really somber and reflective, and shared his heart a lot and sang songs that they didn't plan. I think all of that added to my enjoyable experience with him. But the concert didn't necessarily make me a bigger fan, either.