Saturday night and Sunday morning.If you're not listening to NPR right now, you should be. Emily Saliers (of the Indigo Girls) and her kind father Don (a church musician and professor of theology and worship at Emory University) are talking about their new book, which describes their desire for readers to find the sacred in all authentic and truth-revealing music, regardless of genre. Both of them are so articulate, and the biggest bonus is that they've performed several songs live--Don joins in on "All That We Let In," and Emily sings on a beautiful liturgical song written by her dad, based on Psalm 139.
Go to the Diane Rehm show homepage to stream it, or if you've missed it you can listen to the archived episode when it goes online an hour after the program airs. Which you should. Because you don't want to miss Emily Saliers singing music from Taize.
It's interesting to listen to this having watched the insipid coverage of so-called "Christian" music on 60 Minutes last night. There is simply no comparison, not only between the interviewers' styles and grasp of their subjects' work (ie, Bob Simon playing Clueless White Guy to Kanye West's "dope-ass" beats--gimme a break, man), but in the depth of the interviewees' responses. Given the work I do at Calvin, I have developed much more empathy with musicians who have a "lover's quarrel" with the established church than those who are entrenched in the contemporary Christian music industry, regardless of whether they're getting mainstream airplay.
With all the exposure "Christian music" is supposedly getting, it never fails to amaze me how narrowly it continues to be defined. People raise a huge stink when the Indigo Girls perform at Calvin (which they've done twice in the last few years), as if their hot-button sexuality negates all else that might be good about them. But no one would so much as blink were we to bring in a band like Third Day, which is musically derivative and, on occasion, theologically sketchy. If you're going to question the Indigo Girls' theology (which you should), you need to question the theology of your favorite CCM bands, too. Just because they're signed to Essential Records doesn't mean everything they say is true. And just because the Indigo Girls are lesbians doesn't mean everything they say is false.
One of my favorite Madeleine L'Engle quotes sums this up: "God chooses his artists with as calm a disregard for surface moral qualifications as he chooses his saints." Praise God that he accepts and embraces the things we nitpick.