12.09.2004

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.

9 Comments:

At 12/09/2004 6:53 PM, Blogger Brandon said...

Amen, and amen.

 
At 12/09/2004 8:31 PM, Blogger Gustavus said...

Yay, Christian Ska, and punk rock. Only problem is that there is only one of the orginal 4 Christan Ska bands left... The O.C. Supertones. Nice blog btw... I'm eventualy (after college) contitering expatriating... But with me you never know.

 
At 12/09/2004 9:58 PM, Blogger KristentheRN said...

God bless you for this post. I love NPR, love Diane Rheme, love the Indigo Girls, love Madeleine L'Lengle. I will check the interview out. Swamp Ophelia is one of those CDs I never get tired of. Thanks again- love your blog!

 
At 12/10/2004 7:46 AM, Blogger Scott said...

Insightful comment. The Indigo Girls are consistently two of the best singer-songwriters in the US. The whole folk music, acoustic guitar, granola sound seems to have come and went, and so probably has their popularity, but they stand shoulders above others with their lyrical work. Many of their songs have lyrics that rival some of the best poetry - like "Strange Fire," which is utterly brilliant, theologically pointed and deeply layered.

Have you by chance read either of these books? This quote struck me:

"Frykholm is the quintessential “insider-outsider.” She is a feminist literary scholar who rejected the conservative evangelical subculture in which she was raised, but for whom the prophetic narratives of dispensational premillennialism remain intimately familiar. She reads Left Behind and finds it shallow, propagandistic, and boring, but she readily imagines a worldview in which apocalyptic fiction of this kind is rich and meaningful."

I think that last sentence tells a lot. Part of why I think people like yourself (and me as well) probably are not terribly moved at any level by the literary and lyrical output of the Christian music and book industry is because of how we relate to it. I don't share the worldview of evangelicalism/neo-fundamentalism, even though mine is dimensionally related to it. But it's not just cognitive worldviews - there's a social aspect to that entire culture which I, being outside, don't understand and therefore don't understand the appeal of certain products.

 
At 12/10/2004 11:13 AM, Blogger kate said...

Scott, thanks for your insightful comments. I've been sent that Revealer link a number of times and haven't been able to get to it yet, but I'll definitely check out both of those books. I will have little else to do but read over Christmas, hooray!

 
At 12/12/2004 3:06 PM, Blogger jeshua said...

geeze, kate. you write great stuff! I started a blog of my own after I read yours. it doesn't compare, but it's fun anyway. and then I got a blog for my dad which is linked to his church's website, so now all the members of his congregation can read about his left leaning tendencies. he loves it! ...anyway, here's my blog: earstohear.blogspot.com

 
At 12/14/2004 11:31 AM, Blogger kate said...

Yay, Jeshua! You have your very own expat entry now. I'm glad you stopped by!

 
At 12/14/2004 4:30 PM, Blogger rachel said...

thanks for posting this... i am listening now and i am so happy to know about it... i had no idea that her dad was a prof at emory...

 
At 1/01/2005 6:20 PM, Blogger Justin said...

“‘I would really like for Christian rock music to kind of disappear completely,’ Bazan confessed. ‘Not necessarily because it was Christian, but because a lot of it is in poor taste and appeals to the lowest common denominator. I would have similar critiques of mainstream culture.’”

David Bazan, Pedro the Lion

 

Post a Comment

<< Home