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 →

Give Us This Day Our Daily Links

Stephen Prothero measures the distance Franklin has fallen from the Graham tree.  It’s old news by now that Sojourners and other progressive Christian organizations have a gay problem.  Hussein Rashid asks Muslims how they will treat LGBT people.  What do some Russian women see in Vladimir Putin?  Paul the Apostle, reports the Telegraph (via  With a cue from Rob Bell, Chris Armstrong constructs a Handbook to Hell.  The When I Return Project: What will you do when you return to a liberated Palestine?  Anthea Butler on Glenn Beck’s plans to host a Restoring Courage rally in Jerusalem on August 20 this year.  An excerpt from Frank Schaeffer’s new book, about how “The Right” is waging a war on “all things public.” David Bahati, the author of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays Bill” may soon be that country’s Minister of Ethics.  Terry Mattingly begs for a definition of fundamentalist. Continue Reading →

Frey Takes Jesus to the Highs and Lows of New York

The Final Testament of The Holy Bible, by James Frey (Gagosian Gallery, 2011)

by Mara Einstein

With only a handful of shows left, Oprah has selected James Frey—yes, the same James Frey she publicly humiliated for “lying” in his memoir A Million Little Pieces (after making it a bestseller)—to be among the chosen few to get one of the most coveted slots in broadcasting. It turns out Oprah apologized to Mr. Frey in 2009, three years after publicly castigating him. (Am I the only one who missed it?) Seemingly, the two former feuders have been looking for a time to present the reconciliation more publicly, and with full Oprah Show fanfare it will happen before her last show airs on May 25th.

What makes this appearance particularly surprising is that the show will not only review what has occurred in Mr. Frey’s life over the last few years — he’s written some not-so-great books, co-authored a young adult book series, and tragically lost his 11-day-old son to a genetic neuromuscular disorder — the appearance will also, more importantly, promote his latest work, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, perhaps the last book ever to be promoted by the woman who put publishing back in the black. From the title alone, this would seem like a slam dunk for Oprah, a woman who readily mentions Jesus and God on her daytime talk show (and has inspired endless commentary on her faith). However, what’s inside Frey’s book isn’t what one would expect from the outside. Continue Reading →