Turns Out the Devil Didn’t Have All the Good Music

Historians, says Philip Jenkins in his latest Real Clear Religion column, are just now starting to understand with how evangelicalism remade itself in the 1970s. He argues the professors are doing a decent job “showing how Christian movements and leaders developed during these years” but they’re not seriously grappling with pop culture.

That grappling is necessary, writes Jenkins, because “those groups faced a daunting challenge in reaching out to a non-believing audience that was at first deeply unsympathetic to the moral and cultural messages they preached. To say the least, the years around 1970 were not a promising time to be preaching chastity, heterosexuality, and a drug-free lifestyle…

And into this cultural gulf, between the clean-shaven, clean living, low-church Protestants and their long-haired, chemically-enhanced, non-churched contemporaries stepped… rock music.

Jenkins argues that as the ’60s pushed into the ’70s, rock rediscovered its country roots and found God in the process. At the same time, evangelicals launched their own sort of Christian rock that would eventually become the Contemporary Christian Music genre. These two things pushed the secular closer to the religious and the religious close to the secular, and the rest is religious history.

We were actually supposed to run a different Jenkins column today as a way of relaunching his regular column, but he sent us the piece early last week. It was on Jerry Sandusky, Penn State and pedophilia. If there’s one lesson I learned working for two tours of duty with Wlady Pleszczynski, it’s that sitting on good, newsy copy is a sin against the Polish Holy Spirit.

Why I Might End Up Voting for Dad Again

The American Spectator is a run by a non-profit, which means that the publication itself is not allowed to explicitly endorse a candidate or piece of legislation. There is some wiggle room for contributors to do so in its pages, but in practice the editors have decided to ixnay endorsementsway.

In fact, I only know of one explicit endorsement the Spectator ran in the last presidential election cycle, because I wrote it. In the column in question, I told readers that over Presidents’ Day I had finally “sat down and had a good think about where the current crop of candidates fits in the long run of America’s chief executives” and found the results “depressing.”

Sure, I was unhappy that John McCain was the Republican nominee but “seriously,” I asked, “Mitt Romney would have been much better?” I speculated that, were that the case, “A year from now, we’d be fighting over Romneycare instead of [Obamacare].”

The column told readers they would “soon be warned against ‘throwing your vote away’ on some crank third party candidate in general election. Instead, we should figure out which of the two major party candidates will do the least damage, fasten that clothespin, and do our Christian duty.” It cautioned, not so fast, Christian soldiers.

Yes, a third party vote might amount to throwing one’s vote away, but so what? If these were the options the big two parties were offering us (Obama or Hillary vs. McCain or Romney), then perhaps it was best to throw those votes away. So, I endorsed my father.

“Bob Lott for President,” was the unambigious headline. In response to angry reader mail, I even worked up a pretty good cheer/taunt: “Bob Lott! Why Not?”

The piece ran because Dad was not a candidate and had no chance in hell of winning any elective office. Executive editor Wlady Pleszczynski, with his poetic Polish soul, understood that this was not so much an endorsement as an anguished love letter to America. Surely, I was hoping against hope, we can find it in us to do better than this.

And four years later, the candidates are… Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

So I might be voting for Dad again. Over the next few months, I’ll explore the ins and outs of that decision. This will not be an exercise in narcissism or posturing, or at least that is not the intent.

Obviously, the political ground has shifted some since the last presidential contest. A lot of readers had misgivings about our choices in the last go-round and might still be scratching their heads about what to do this time. Maybe in watching a fellow anguished voter puzzle it out, they can get some idea where to go from here.


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