In the News: How to talk about what we need to talk about?

A round-up of recent religion news. Continue Reading →

The Second To Last Twentieth Century Book Club

“The Last Twentieth Century Book Club” is an ongoing monthly column exploring religious ephemera by Don Jolly. Continue Reading →

Been Around For a Long, Long Year

A Review of  No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism, by David Stowe, The University of North Carolina Press, 291 pages

by Garrett Baer

There is a certain (dead) art to the mixtape, difficult to theorize but easy enough to hear. It’s not quite captured in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, though the fuzzy explanation offered by Hornby’s Rob Fleming gets close:

A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with “Got to Get You Off My Mind”, but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs and…oh, there are loads of rules.

Though David Stowe is a professor of English and religious studies and No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism was published by an academic press, don’t let the jacket—or Stowe’s ambitious claim to demonstrate that Christian pop music of the sixties and seventies was central in laying the very “groundwork for the reorientation of American society, politics, and religious culture”—fool you: No Sympathy is a mixtape, and it follows Hornby’s rules to a T. Continue Reading →

Queer Music

Two music stars have recently announced that they are lesbians: today Audrey Bilger at Ms. Magazine writes about Chely Wright, a country singer with a new book; last week Douglas Harrison wrote at Religion Dispatches about Jennifer Knapp, a Christian music singer who bravely appeared on Larry King Live with a Christianity Today editor. Harrison cautions us against assuming that Knapp’s coming out is representative of a trend within Christian music of acceptance of homosexuality. He anticipates that Knapp’s career is probably through as Evangelicals continue to react against broader acceptance of gays in society. Wright’s 90s heyday is long over; she no longer looks solely to the Country music world for an audience. Continue Reading →