Evangelicals still trail Jehovah’s Witnesses in tribal Billboard No. 1 contest

For some people, Christianity is a life-shaping faith and a source of hope and meaning. For others, it’s a tribal competition in which life is all about scoring points for Team Christian.

Good news for people in the latter category, Christianity Today reports that Team Christian now has the No. 1 album in the U.S., according to Billboard magazine:

Chris Tomlin’s new album, “Burning Lights,” topped the Billboard 200 album chart yesterday with 73,000 units sold in its first week.

He is only the fourth Christian artist ever to hit No. 1; TobyMac’s “Eye on It” … was the first since 1997. Both artists have been top award winners in Christian music.

Four No. 1 albums for Team Christian is impressive — although it still leaves us well behind Team Jehovah’s Witness.

But wait … only four Christian artists have ever had a No. 1 album?

That seems low. Sœur Sourire was a No. 1 album in 1963 based on this hit:

YouTube Preview Image

But Jeanine Deckers, aka “the Singing Nun,” apparently doesn’t count as a “Christian artist.”

Sorry, sister, but Christianity Today says you’re not a Christian artist.

OK, so Dominican sisters can’t be Christian artists — how about Baptists?

Well, since Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Alice Cooper, Whitney Houston and Patti LaBelle’s No. 1 albums don’t seem to count, I guess Baptists cannot be “Christian artists” either.

Just consider that small handful of artists and try to come up with some way that phrase “Christian artist” makes sense.

I suppose we could take a moralistic approach to clarify that “Christian” really only refers to real, true Christians who don’t drink or do drugs or commit adultery or wear eyeliner or marry Bobby Brown or sing about “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi.”

But that still doesn’t explain ruling out Sister Jeanine.

It also seems kind of unfair to Alice Cooper — who, off-stage, has always been a pretty straight-laced Baptist pastor’s kid.

Plus ruling out Johnny Cash puts you at odds with Billy Graham, who loved to have Johnny sing at his evangelistic rallies. If singing for Billy Graham at revival rallies doesn’t make the grade as a “Christian artist” then what does it take?

But the truth is that Sr. Jeanine and Johnny Cash and the scores of other Christians who have recorded No. 1 albums don’t count here as “Christian artists” because they weren’t “Christian” in the tribal sense of playing for Team Jesus.

Meaning the sales of their albums did not profit Team Jesus.

That is what “Christian artist” means in this context. And that is all that “Christian artist” means in this context. It means someone who records albums for a “Christian” record label, preferably one based in Nashville.

It’s not about the faith of the artist and it’s not about the art of the faithful. It’s about who gets the money.

Tribal religion always seems to be about who gets the money. Go Team Jesus!

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:

'The Supreme Court' doesn't mean abortion -- it means Shelby County
If abortion is murder, then you shouldn't be a single-issue voter against it
Trust me, I've tried all the other religions. All of them.
'What became of the Christian intellectuals?'
  • AnonymousSam

    Well, meet me, Jesus, meet me
    Meet me in the middle of the air
    And if these wings don’t fail me
    I will meet you anywhere

    Ain’t no grave can hold my body down

  • Launcifer

    It’s mildly embarassing that my first thought on reading your post was, “Doubt they’ll accept Led Zeppelin on Team Jesus”. Bloody hell, but they cribbed from everywhere, didn’t they?

  • AnonymousSam

    Huh, never noticed that. Yeah, those lyrics have some notable similarities.

    Meet me Jesus, meet me
    Meet me in the middle of the air
    If my wings should fail me, Lord
    Please meet me with another pair

    It’s more embarrassing that the first thought I got from it was that the Undertaker used this song as his entrance theme for awhile.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Well my goodness gracious let me tell you the news
    My head’s been wet with the midnight dew
    I’ve been down on bended knee
    Talkin’ to the man from Galilee
    He spoke to me in a voice so sweet
    I thought I heard the shuffle of the angel’s feet
    He called my name and my heart stood still
    When he said, “John, go do My will!”

  • EllieMurasaki

     Same song, more pointed:

    Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
    Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
    But as sure as God made black and white
    What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light

  • We Must Dissent

     That’s a reworking of a song by Moby, another artist who doesn’t count as Christian. Still a very good sing. I go with “Redemption”:

    From his hands it came down
    From his side it came down

    From his feet it came down

    And ran to the ground

    Between heaven and hell

    A teardrop fell
    In the deep crimson dew

    The tree of life grew

    Of course finding a Johnny Cash song with overt Christianity isn’t hard.

  • SisterCoyote

    Mumford & Sons have some pretty deep, honest stuff. But I get the feeling what these folks are looking for isn’t honesty.

    But I still believe though there’s cracks you’ll see,
    When I’m on my knees I’ll still believe,
    And when I’ve hit the ground, neither lost nor found,
    If you believe in me I’ll still believe

    (Holland Road.)

    They remind me of U2, with the nature of their songs. Faith in one’s fellow man, faith in a partner broken, and faith in God, wounded – it’s a lot of pain and a lot of light and a lot of hunger.

    Oh hey but this is Number One albums, I realized, and I have no idea whether theirs have hit that point. Probably not. Sorry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fooneturing Foone Turing

    The billboard 200 says they hit #1 with Babel.

  • Fusina

    Uriah Heep has a song (Easy Livin’) that has definitely got some churchy lyrics. Didn’t notice them til recently. Damn, but apparently church folk are everywhere. Who knew?

    Err, that last was sarcasm. Also a bit of annoyedness at the church people (Assemblies of God–got a lot of wounds left from there) who condemned an entire group for one song that when I listened to it, and read the lyrics, it was the saddest song I ever heard, but not evil like I was told. (Eagles, Hotel California).

    Still wasn’t as bad as the time I was reading a book and there was a blurb on the back cover for another book, “All My Sins Remembered” by Joe Haldeman, and a lady who about had a heart attack on seeing it. Even I knew that it was a bit from a quote out of Hamlet–I might have been all of 16 at the time. Church folk can be a bit weird.

  • SisterCoyote

     There are those who see sorrow as evil. I don’t quite understand them.

  • Jenny Islander

    “Hotel California” compares the bad record contract the Eagles were stuck in at the time to being trapped in a horror movie that just won’t end.  But I suppose it’s really about Satan worship.  Just like “Life in the Fast Lane” is about the damage that cocaine addiction does to people, but it must really be about how much fun it is to sniff cocaine.

    So what did the lady think was going to happen, that there was an ad on the back of the book you were reading for another book that quoted Hamlet in the title?  Did she think the book had to be a sex’n’drugs’n’Satan manual or something?  (According to the Intertubes it’s about an idealistic pacifist in a space opera universe who joins the civil service in order to do good, but gets hijacked into doing government-sponsored assassinations under cover so deep that he doesn’t even know he’s doing it until it’s over.)

  • Fusina

     Sounded like a person trapped in a bad life wanting desperately to get out, and not knowing how. So I can see the contract comparison. But yes, I was told they were worshipping Satan and _liked_ it.

    All I remember is that she kept repeating that God doesn’t remember our sins, and that therefore the book was obviously evil, talking about remembering sins. Finally found a copy of it, but haven’t read it yet…it is in my ever growing pile of things to read, which got hijacked by the Game of Thrones series a month or so back. Two books to go.

  • Jenny Islander

    You know, looking back, I think one of my first impressions of fundamentalism was precisely this kind of unthinking reflexive fear.  I was raised American Lutheran (now Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).  We were taught to carefully read, discuss, and consider new ideas and guided away from snap decisions of any kind.  I can just imagine the two pastors of my youth reacting to this woman if she had been one of their parishioners:

    “Pastor, PASTOR, Fusina is reading a book that advertises evil things!”

    “What do you mean?  What book?”

    “It had an ad on the back for a book called All My Sins Remembered! But God doesn’t remember sin!  It’s an evil book and Fusina is being led into evil!  Oh, Pastor, I’m so worried!”

    “Is it a religious book?”

    “I don’t know!  But it talks about God remembering sin!”

    “If you don’t know whether it’s a religious book or not, how do you know it talks about God remembering sin?”

    “Because of the title!”

    “The ad on the back of the book?”

    “Yes, the title!”

    “So you think Fusina is reading an evil book because the ad on the back jacket is for a different book whose title is All My Sins Remembered?  You know, that sounds like a quote.  Let me grab my copy of Bartlett.  Yes, here it is.  It’s Shakespeare, Hamlet talking to Ophelia.  He is asking her to pray for him because he is a sinner.”

    “Oh.  But it’s still about sin.”

    “Which book, the book Fusina is reading or the book that’s been advertised?”

    ” . . . ”

    “You know, I bet the library could get a copy of either one for you.  How about you give them a read and let me know what you think?”

    After which neither you nor he would have heard another word about either book from her, because the pastor wouldn’t play the Fear Game.  Of course, the parishioner might well have left the church in search of “strong preaching,” reason and logic and doing one’s own thinking being so ungodly and all.

    Talking to fundamentalists is frustrating and exhausting because they insist on being scared, scared, scared.  And it really pisses me off that the popular image of an American Christian is just like the lady who flipped out about the ad on your book.

  • Fusina

     I grew up with this sort of thing–well, after I was 13. Before that we went to a Lutheran church (Missouri Synod) and there I learned about bullies.

    My Mum left there and went to an AG, there I learned that it isn’t what you think and ponder, it is what the leadership tells you that counts. This was also the church where I encountered the woman when I was reading that book. After those two, I dropped out of church entirely for a while. Found my way to the Episcopal church, where I found the liturgical trappings I liked from the Lutheran church, and the thinking and pondering that I did anyway. So I stayed.

    As to the growing up stuff, the AG church hates people to think and question, at least the one I got to attend until I moved out of my parents house. My Mom likes the security of having someone else tell her what to think and believe. I happen to prefer the freedom to, as someone mentioned here, “work out my salvation in fear and trembling”. I wrote a poem about it, here it is.

    Abandon

    To abandon old beliefs,
    to fall
    into a billowing pillow of grace
    and infinite love
    to leave behind the hellfire of damnation
    the way I learned,
    is hard
    and frightening: but
    I know
    that all are wholly beloved
    unless God is not as good a parent
    as I am.

  • Tricksterson

    Hadn’t known that was what “Hotel California” was about.  What I never got was people seeming to think that the narrator was supposed to have a positive view of the events in the song when, as you say, it always came across as a horror story to me.  As for “Life in the Fast Lane”  Did those people listen to the lyrics?  At all?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Still wasn’t as bad as the time I was reading a book and there was a blurb on the back cover for another book, “All My Sins Remembered” by Joe Haldeman, and a lady who about had a heart attack on seeing it. Even I knew that it was a bit from a quote out of Hamlet–I might have been all of 16 at the time. Church folk can be a bit weird.

    Agreed. When I was at uni I went to see a professional production of Les Miserables and was raving about it to my lab partner the next day. He sniffed that it was evil because there are ghosts in the final scene, and apparently that wasn’t on according to his evangelical theology. I didn’t ask why, because I was dumbstruck about the idea of having to hate everything that may include some tiny reference to any obscure doctrinal matter that you didn’t agree with.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I just saw the movie Monday, no previous experience of book or
    musical (things I wish I had been warned for, because they didn’t trigger me but they’re sure as fuck triggery: rape, violence, and lots of death, including a child and a suicide), and, uh, those didn’t look like ghosts to me. That looked like heaven. Heaven is not populated by ghosts. Ghosts are by definition souls that have not gone to heaven, or (by some definitions) to hell.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    A distinction my lab partner clearly didn’t care for.

    For future reference, epics 19th century novels focusing on society’s outcasts tend to have a lot of potentially triggery stuff. Now that I think of it, I can’t recall any novel that I love that doesn’t have potentially triggery stuff.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wonder what your lab partner would think of whichever Left Behind book features the dead people brought back with glorified bodies.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Turns out I’m not finished riffing off your comment :)

    Err, that last was sarcasm. Also a bit of annoyedness at the church people (Assemblies of God–got a lot of wounds left from there) who condemned an entire group for one song that when I listened to it, and read the lyrics, it was the saddest song I ever heard, but not evil like I was told. (Eagles, Hotel California).

    First, yeah, I don’t understand how people miss the sadness in the tone of Hotel California.

    On condemning great music–I knew a guy who was a HUGE Beatles fan. Just adored their music (and rightly so). He’d play their albums constantly but had to skip The Ballad of John and Yoko (because of the blasphemy, see), and when listening to the sublime While My Guitar Gently Weeps would sigh and say (with genuine sorrow) that it’s sad that George Harrison is in hell now. Because of the Eastern religions thing.

  • P J Evans

    it’s sad that George Harrison is in hell now

    He’s busy equipping the heavenly choirs with new instruments, I suspect.

  • Rivikah

    My guess would be this:  to count as a “Christian artist” one should be on a “Christian Record Label” and sold in “Christian Bookstores”.

  • John (not McCain)

    Sometimes being a Christian artist on a Christian Record Label  sold in a Christian Bookstore isn’t enough.  I remember seeing one old bag picking up a copy of Rez Band’s Live Bootleg record and slamming it down in disgust.  Apparently having a boot on a record cover violates Hezikiah 9:32 or something.

  • Carstonio

    To be fair, the boot looks vaguely punkish. Maybe the customer assumed that the band members were nihilists or butch lesbians. Or else the customer saw “bootleg” and didn’t get the joke.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

     

    I remember seeing one old bag picking up a copy of Rez Band’s Live Bootleg record and slamming it down in disgust.

    You know what would be nice?

    Having just one day go by without encountering misogynist slurs from people who are supposedly on my side.

    Today is clearly not that day.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    You know what would be nice?

    Having just one day go by without encountering misogynist slurs from people who are supposedly on my side.

    Wouldn’t it be grand? 

    I look forward to being an “old bag” myself. Of completely no use, of course, as I will no longer be deemed fuckable, and of course that’s what women are for. There’s going to be a certain amount of freedom to that. No — a LOT of freedom. 

  • Jenny Islander

    BING-GOOOOOOO.

    I have told the story here before–repeatedly I think–about the time I tried to expand my collection of Bach CDs by shopping at the Christian bookstore and got told (rather pityingly IIRC) that they only carried Christian artists.

    I started shopping at the Orthodox coffee-shop-cum-bookstore instead; they didn’t have any Bach either, but they did have some lovely albums of cantatas by other Baroque composers.  I admit to schadenfreude upon learning not long afterward that the “nondenominational” Christian bookstore had closed.  It’s been years since then, but Monks Rock is still in business.

  • nichevo

    anyone who rejects a legitimate chance to count johnny cash as on ‘their side’ can’t possibly be doing it more wrong.

  • Daniel

    “It also seems kind of unfair to Alice Cooper — who, off-stage, has always been a pretty straight-laced Baptist pastor’s kid.”

    I’m not sure I’d use the word “always” there. This is a man whose conversion was part of his process of going straight, alongside golf – in his words, he replaced drugs and alcohol with God and golf. On the other hand not only is he now born-again, he’s got a very strong Christian theme running through many of his post-conversion albums… (the narrative of, say, The Last Temptation, let alone more obvious examples like Welcome to Hell, is very salvific)

  • Carstonio

    I hadn’t heard about Alice Cooper converting. Perhaps Ozzy Osborne and King Diamond should be nervous.

    But the truth is that Sr. Jeanine and Johnny Cash and the scores of
    other Christians who have recorded No. 1 albums don’t count here as
    “Christian artists” because they weren’t “Christian” in the tribal sense
    of playing for Team Jesus.

    My own attempt at crafting a workable definition of “Christian artist”:  a performer whose repertoire is dominated by Christian themes or songs of praise. Johnny Cash recorded plenty of songs that addressed those themes – I can enjoy his version of “The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea” without believing in his religion. But he recorded many more secular songs, so he was an artist who was Christian instead of being a Christian artist.

    It’s highly unlikely that Billboard actually has an editorial stance that the CCM labels and Christian bookstores are right about what constitutes “Christian music”. Its charting system has the effect of an endorsement, obviously, but the magazine’s definition may simply be a matter of convenience. At one time, such magazines lumped music marketed to blacks in the “race records” category, but the syncretic genre of rock ‘n’ roll helped lead the magazines to define that category more stylistically – some of Elvis’ early hits placed simultaneously on the pop, country and R&B charts.

    I’m wondering if CCM fans tend to buy more of their music at Christian stores or Christian retailers, which may or may not be in the SoundScan system, than from WalMart or iTunes or Amazon.

  • Launcifer

    Mentioning Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath has at least one explicitly pro-Jesus song in their back catalogue (After Forever on their 3rd album), largely because they got pissed off with being called Satanists.  There’s also a lot of very Christian imagery running throughout their back catalogue, though this might be down to the band members’ deliberate attempts to play “horror movie music” and the main lyricist’s predilection for Dennis Wheatley novels.

  • Carstonio

     Reminds me how the Exorcist and Omen genres lean heavily on Catholicism. Seems that telling stories about the devil almost requires one to use other types of Christian imagery, such as in Sympathy for the Devil.

  • Amaryllis

    Holy Mother of God, it’s Soeur Sourire.

    My parents had that one. I haven’t thought of her in… it’s embarrassing how long ago it was.

  • Tricksterson

    After watching the current season of American Horror Story I can’t even think of that song without a shudder.

  • Amaryllis

     I… didn’t know about that, because I refuse to watch any more of that show.

    Is nothing sacred?

  • Lliira

    Billie Holiday?

    Money, you’ve got lots of friends
    Crowding round the door
    When you’re gone, spending ends
    They don’t come no more
    Rich relations give
    Crust of bread and such
    You can help yourself
    But don’t take too much
    Mama may have, Papa may have
    But God bless the child that’s got his own
    That’s got his own

    Nah, a black woman who sings the blues can never be Team Christian. Can the blues ever be Team Christian at all? The blues are for filling up the hungry, the poor, the down-and-out, the heartbroken, the people who mess up and know they’re gonna keep messing up. Team Christian makes marches, not lamentations.

  • Jenora Feuer

    Hunh, I never heard the original Billie Holliday version of that before.  On the other hand, I recognized the lyrics right off, from the Blood, Sweat and Tears cover of it.

    Going to Youtube search also pulls up Whitney Houston, Oleta Adams, Anita Baker (though that one rubbed me the wrong way on just the first line with some of her liberties with the tune).

  • Marc Tompkins

    I love me some Billie, but if you’re citing this as a “Christian” song, I gotta wonder whether we’re listening to the same lyrics?

    Despite the words “God bless”, this is essentially a song about looking out for Number One.  

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It’s the blues. It’s not trying to instruct anyone on how to live their lives. It’s a song about the way the world is.

    “Strange Fruit” isn’t about how awesome lynching is, either.

  • Baby_Raptor

    People around here have heard the stories of how fundie my grandparents were, so I’ll spare the reiterations. But music was my grandfather’s thing. He did NOT take anyone’s attitude over what he listened to. He actually dragged us out of a church we’d attended for a couple years because one of the leadership types there told him that the Beach Boys were demonic. 

    Yeah. The Beach Boys. 

  • Worthless Beast

    I have a lingering vague memory of watching some televangist talk-show thingy where Alice Cooper was discussed.  Maybe it was The 700 Club?  It was a long time ago… I just remember the hosts openinly questioning Cooper’s sincerity regarding his faith  *because of the freaking stage-persona.*  

    It really is all about labels and toeing a certain line.  I’m a wannabe fantasy writer.  Haven’t gotten anywhere with it yet (besides some completed manuscripts that no one seems to want to take on). While I knew from the beginning that my thoughts on life, the universe and everything were going to worm their way into my work, I decided – even when I was really into Church – that I absolutely was *not* going to be a “Christian” writer.   A publisher listing “deals with Christian work / wants stuff that reflects our values” sometimes will turn me off soliting them (and I’m pretty deserate).  I’ve known from early on that there is a difference between “an artist who happens to be Christian” and a “Christian artist.” One may color their work with their faith sometimes, but really wants to connect in a general human way that’s accessible to everyone.  The other is preaching at best, bound and gagged at worst. 

    On that happy note, I don’t know too many Jewish comedians who stick to “just Jewish comedy,” either, but like to make everyone laugh. 

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    A publisher listing “deals with Christian work / wants stuff that
    reflects our values” sometimes will turn me off soliting them (and I’m pretty desperate).

    In the long run, that could be a good thing. A significant amount of scammers fly the “Christian publisher” flag, counting on the faithful to put up with a lot of crap in the way of non-standard contracts, total failure to market the books to actual readers, and/or self-publishing services that don’t do anything for you that LuLu or Createspace couldn’t do (except take a cut of your profits) simply because “they’re on my side, they share my faith, isn’t that the important thing?” Some Christians will run the other way when they see an overt fish or cross on any business’s ads/communications for precisely that reason.

    See, for instance, Lighthouse Christian Publishing.

  • Worthless Beast

    I was complaining about my latest rejection on a blog/forum thing I go to and someone there pointed out his package-published book. I looked up the package-online-publisher/marketer and it had the “Christian, works pretaining to our values” line and thought… “If I do pull the trigger on self-online publishing, I think I’m going to do it myself if and when I think I’m good enough.”

    In particular, I was thinking of what is possibly my strongest story, and also the best one to “vanity” publish since it’s a bit on the short side for a novel. It has a lot of symbolism for faith in it and the struggle with faith – in a very fantasy way. Fairly innocuous for people who are alright with fantasy creatures and the supernatural… however, the part where a character implies that churches/The Church is an instituion long-extinct probably wouldn’t be “kosher” with anyone like that.  I had a line about “symbols of ancient exectuion devices” in my head that I just had to use.  I don’t think any amount of saying “I believe this and that, I was just playing with worldbuilding because sandboxes are fun” would save face for me.

    As for fish and crosses on businesses… well, there’s a “Christian Air/Heating Service” out there that has *beautiful* trucks – a dove, gold lettering… and they’re a supposedly old and trusted company out here, but… yeah, there’s something about God and Mammon that doesn’t smell right to me.

  • Fusina

     Speaking of Christian Music, and still not sure how he got some of his stuff past the censors, Steve Taylor had this to say about “christian businesses”

    “So you need a new car?
    Let your fingers take a walk
    Through the business guide for the “born again” flock
    You’ll be keeping all your money
    In the kingdom now
    And you’ll only drink milk from a Christian cow

    Don’t you go casting your bread
    To keep the heathen well-fed
    Line Christian pockets instead
    Avoid temptation

    Guilty by association”

    Read the whole thing here http://lyrics.wikia.com/Steve_Taylor:Guilty_By_Association

    He was one of my favorite of the “christian” musicians crowd, possibly because I _Like_ sarcasm when it is used to illuminate idiocy.

  • P J Evans

    As for fish and crosses on businesses…

    I used to live in an area where someone had a handyman business with a van.The sides of the van were painted to look like a lot of tools hanging on a wall – except one of them, on the back, was a fish. It was actually pretty neat, being not so obvious.

  • stardreamer42

     That’s what we call “fish on the business card” advertising, and it’s not just applicable to publishers. For that matter, I’m not down with pagan symbols in the advertising either (unless your business is directly related, like a religious supplier) — in both cases, it’s arguing that something other than your actual business reputation should be a selling point.

  • Worthless Beast

    I have a lingering vague memory of watching some televangist talk-show thingy where Alice Cooper was discussed.  Maybe it was The 700 Club?  It was a long time ago… I just remember the hosts openinly questioning Cooper’s sincerity regarding his faith  *because of the freaking stage-persona.*  

    It really is all about labels and toeing a certain line.  I’m a wannabe fantasy writer.  Haven’t gotten anywhere with it yet (besides some completed manuscripts that no one seems to want to take on). While I knew from the beginning that my thoughts on life, the universe and everything were going to worm their way into my work, I decided – even when I was really into Church – that I absolutely was *not* going to be a “Christian” writer.   A publisher listing “deals with Christian work / wants stuff that reflects our values” sometimes will turn me off soliting them (and I’m pretty deserate).  I’ve known from early on that there is a difference between “an artist who happens to be Christian” and a “Christian artist.” One may color their work with their faith sometimes, but really wants to connect in a general human way that’s accessible to everyone.  The other is preaching at best, bound and gagged at worst. 

    On that happy note, I don’t know too many Jewish comedians who stick to “just Jewish comedy,” either, but like to make everyone laugh. 

  • http://harmfulguy.livejournal.com/ harmfulguy

    I thought the rule of thumb was that it wasn’t REAL Christian music if it appealed to anyone who didn’t identify as Christian.

  • SisterCoyote

     I think that’s actually the root of the problem. It’s Christian music if it isolates, if it establishes boundaries and walls, if it’s too trite to draw emotion, (what was that post regarding power ballads, getting grounded for listening to Journey?), if it passes every filter of safety.

    If it breaks walls and dashes boundaries, it’s not REALLY Christian, it’s dangerous and wicked. If it makes you feel something, it’s wrong – you should only feel when your pastor wants you to.

  • Turcano

    And I thought the rule of thumb was that it wasn’t Real Christian Music if it didn’t suck.

  • The_L1985

     There are a few Demon Hunter songs I like, but for all the wrong reasons.  (Look up the lyrics to “Not I.”  Now imagine how you could say those exact same words and mean the exact opposite of what DH probably meant.)

  • Madhabmatics

    Imagine my hysterical laughter when someone came up to me and said “[Madhabmatics] have u heard Toby Mac’s song about the Illuminati?”

    Now since they SAID it I can’t be sure that they spelled “you” as “u” but whenever someone talks about conspiracy theories I just assume.

  • Jessica_R

    One man come in the name of love
    One man come and go
    One man he to justify 
    One man to overthrow 

    In the name of love
    What more in the name of love
    In the name of love 
    What more in the name of love

  • Marc Tompkins

    Love the song… but it’s about MLK, not JC.

    Early morning, April 4 
    Shot rings out in the Memphis sky 
    Free at last, they took your life 
    They could not take your pride

  • Jessica_R

    And one lyric mentions “one man betrayed with a kiss,” it’s a Christian song about Christian figures that never would be accepted as such by Team Jesus. 

  • Worthless Beast

    Aaaand, yep.  Good ol’ U2.  I’m a huge fan, been to a couple of their concerts as birthday gifts.  Taking me to a U2 concert was the excuse my fiance’ used to propose to me in fact. Long story. 

    Their songs are filled with Biblical / Christian symbolism and members of the band aren’t shy about having faith… but their music is made to appeal to lots of people, and to address serious issues… and some of their causes are so Hippie-type!  And… Bono use the F-word sometimes!  Get the smelling salts!  

  • Madhabmatics

    Also I am surprised that Five Iron Frenzy kept the “Christian Band” label as long as they did with the subject of their songs. I’m p. sure if I called up a Christian Radio and asked for “The Day We Killed” or “Old West” they’d send the posse after me.

    also the later song they did with Pat Robertson’s call to assassinate Hugo Chavez playing with the beatitudes being said all hauntingly in the background ruled

  • gpike

    Since “Christian” rock was the only thing I was allowed to listen to as a teen bands like Five Iron were a big part of my formative years… Funny how now I like their “liberal” songs a lot more than their “Jesus-y” ones nowadays.

    There were always a lot of bands I listened to (mostly on Tooth and Nail and a few “indie” christian labels) that you could never have guessed they were “christian” from listening to them – in some cases I always suspected that bands just happened to settle on those labels because the bar was low and as long as there wasn’t overt swearing or anything in their lyrics they’d get an automatic audience. XD

  • stardreamer42

    To everything, turn, turn, turn,
    There is a season, turn, turn, turn,
    And a time to every purpose under Heaven.
    A time to live, a time to die;
    A time to dance, a time to mourn;
    A time to cast away stones,
    A time to gather stones together.

     

  • The_L1985

     But remember, quoting the Bible doesn’t count because the Byrds were hippies.

    Just like the following quote from Amos doesn’t count because loud guitars and cursing:

    Out of Zion shall come forth the law
    And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem;
    Nation shall not raise sword against nation,
    And they shall not learn war any more…

    The song?  “Liberate,” by Disturbed.  (Yes, Jewish, but still.)

  • Launcifer

    Hell, pretty much the entirety of Disturbed’s second album was a kind of religious concept album.

  • Tricksterson

    Oh now, that can’t possibly have anything to do with the Bible! ;>

  • Guest

    Off-topic but I wondered what you thought of this Bad Catholic post?

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2013/01/in-defense-of-the-march-for-life.html

    It reminded me of some of your posts about how anti-abortionists were looking for a way to cast themselves as heroes.

     

  • MaryKaye

    Alice Cooper was totally awesome on the Muppet Show–best guest star ever, in my opinion.  You gotta like someone who can hang with the Muppets.

  • Tricksterson

    Awesome?  Yes.  Best guest star ever?  I’d certainly put him on the short list but Elton John, Zero Mostel and Peter Sellers would have to go up there too.

  • Jessica_R

    And of course, one of my favorite songs full stop. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6TFW1F6oY0

  • Julian Elson

    I do wish “tribal” as used in these posts was given a bit more examination and explanation, and not used as a straightforward pejorative as if it were obvious why being tribal is negative, but anyway, my view for some time has been that the definition of “Christian music” is “music that you wouldn’t listen to for any reason other than its supposed religious merits.” J. S. Bach, for instance, can be enjoyed by people from atheists to Zoroastrians, no matter that much of his work was originally conceived of as Christian. Real Christian music isn’t supposed to be like that: if you can just enjoy it without sharing the religious views of its creators as if it were just music, then it’s not Christian enough.

  • Jenny Islander

    “Tribal” is definitely a loaded term.   I think that a less loaded term would be “seagull pecking,” after an experiment in which one healthy seagull in a whole flock of them was splotched with pink paint–and promptly pecked to death by its own flockmates.  Look like us, dress like us, do your hair like us, recite our exact list of shibboleths, and hate the people we hate–or we will consider you to be our enemy even if you grew up with us and live out the principles we espouse.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You think “seagull pecking” is less loaded than “tribal”?

  • Jenny Islander

    Doesn’t assume that people who organize themselves into tribes are therefore a bunch of pig-ignorant xenophobic yahoos, but keeps in the knee-jerk irrationality of the attitude.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And adds the imagery of the group killing any one of their members who is different. Not inflammatory at all.

    Lucky our side never does that!

  • Foreigner

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CN11bI1_sZo

    (ELP : Jerusalem)

    What, too Socialist?

  • Damanoid

    Oh good point, “Christianity Today.”  It is frankly amazing that even four Christian artists have had #1 songs, here in the United States where the dominant religion has always been Goat-Worship.

    Maybe, if your occult minority faith continues to gain ground at this rate,  someday every town in America will have a Christian church in it.  It may take hundreds of years, but keep trying.  Miracles can happen, if your belief is strong enough, and if the Holy Goat wills it.

  • Tricksterson

    “Sorry Sherman but like most of America’s cultural elite I worship Pan, the goat god.”

  • Worthless Beast

    Dude… I JUST watched that!  Seriously! I’ve been watching old episodes of “The Critic” and that was one I watched tonight, and yes, it made me think of this thread. 

    Wow!

  • Amaryllis

    Now having actually read the comments, I see that no one’s mentioned Bruce Springsteen yet.

    Tonight my bag is packed

    Tomorrow I’ll walk these tracks

    That will lead me across the border

    Tomorrow my love and I

    Will sleep ‘neath auburn skies

    Somewhere across the border

    We’ll leave behind my dear

    The pain and sadness we found here

    And we’ll drink from the Bravo’s muddy water

    Where the sky grows gray and wide

    We’ll meet on the other side

    There across the border

    For you I’ll build a house

    High upon a grassy hill

    Somewhere across the border

    Where pain and memory

    Pain and memory have been stilled

    There across the border

    And sweet blossoms fill the air

    Pastures of gold and green

    Roll down into cool clear waters

    And in your arms ‘neath open skies

    I’ll kiss the sorrow from your eyes

    There across the border

    Tonight we’ll sing the songs

    I’ll dream of you my corazón

    And tomorrow my heart will be strong

    And may the saints’ blessing and grace

    Carry me safely into your arms

    There across the border

    For what are we

    Without hope in our hearts

    That someday we’ll drink from God’s blessed waters

    And eat the fruit from the vine

    I know love and fortune will be mine

    Somewhere across the border

    You can’t get much more Christian in imagery than the lyrics to “Across the Border,” which falls squarely into the tradition of all those double-meaning spirituals. And if most of his stuff isn’t quite that explicit, it’s still full of Christian themes and Christian symbols.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319652 Tim Lehnerer

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tId29Yit28g

    Tonio K. doing a song about the book of Revelation. It’s weird to hear a Hal Lindsey lecture you can slow-dance to.

  • AnonaMiss

    Alice Cooper used to host a late-night radio show on the station I most listened to in college. Our musical tastes were a little divergent but I really enjoyed his show, largely because he and engaged with the audience in a different way from most radio DJs – no sound effect trappings, a little on the earnest side, and fairly personal. It felt like he didn’t think of himself as broadcasting to a large group of people, and more like he was recording an audio letter for a friend to listen to. This was especially notable as it was obviously a syndicated show. I can definitely believe he was a pastor’s son from his air on-air.

    I rediscovered a station with the same handle when I moved out to Baltimore, which I suspect is the same station syndicated, but in the intervening time they’ve fired all their DJs and even make it a point of pride that they have no DJs in their pre-recorded “We don’t take requests, we play what we want!” bits between songs and before and after advertisements. So basically the radio execs are assholes.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

     

    …and even make it a point of pride that they have no DJs in their pre-recorded “We don’t take requests, we play what we want!” bits
    between songs and before and after advertisements.

    Wait, you’ve got Jack FM? They recently vanished from the airwaves ’round here (their number on the dial is now sports radio) and I was wondering where they went.

    (I wasn’t a loyal listener, but I appreciated some of the songs they played. The setlist was just a hair off from neighboring stations of similar genre.)

  • The_L1985

     I really wish more DJs operated like that.  It’s one of the main reasons that I hate radio morning shows–the obviously-staged quality of the patter is just so irritating!

    Meanwhile, I listen to podcasts, which have the same talk-to-music ratio, and it’s a world of difference.  Podcasters, as a general rule, only have a relatively small listenership, and tend not to make money of the podcasts–so it has that same “I’m doing this for my friends” sort of feel.

  • Chgo Liz

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
    My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
    Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
    So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV ?
    Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.
    I wait for delivery each day until three,
    So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV ?

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ?
    I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down.
    Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ?

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
    My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends,
    Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
    So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? 
    ____

    Describes the “Team Jesus” mentality to a T.  And if anyone is in (rock & roll) heaven, it’s got to be Janis.

  • Ross Thompson

    Reminds me of a little Genesis number…

    Jesus he knows me
    And he knows I’m right
    Ive been talking to Jesus all my life
    Oh yes he knows me
    And he knows I’m right
    Well he’s been telling me
    Everything’s gonna be alright, alright

  • Hilary

    No brainer why the Indego Girls aren’t RTC

    “You know, me and Jesus, we’re of the same heart
    The only thing that keeps us distant is that I keep fucking up

    She said come on down to Chicano city park and
    wash the blues away
    When the beautiful ladies walk right by you I never know what to say.”

    But  . . . he missed James Taylor?

    “Look down upon me Jesus, you gotta help me make a stand
    You just gotta see me through another day
    My body’s aching and my time is at an end
    I don’t know if I’ll make it any other way

    Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain . . . ”

    What about Garth Brooks?  He’s got some good music.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Florence + the Machine! “You’ve Got the Love” and “Bedroom Hymns” are the obvious ones.

  • Jenora Feuer

    And ‘Fire and Rain’ was also covered by Blood, Sweat, and Tears, just like ‘God Bless the Child’.  No big surprise, both of those covers came while David Clayton-Thomas was the lead singer…

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    We just got a new choir member who was telling us how glad he was to find a place with talented singers, and mentioned a church he visited once where they played a recording of Johnny Cash’s “Water into Wine” for their communion song.

  • Original Lee

    What about Debby Boone and You Light Up My Life?   That doesn’t count?????

  • lowtechcyclist

    The money may be a big part of the story, but I think control’s an even bigger part: having people in the tribe in a position to do the vetting on who is, and who isn’t, a ‘Christian’ artist.  The labels institutionalize that vetting. 

    This way, if a ‘Christian’ artist starts saying things that the Tribe doesn’t like, they’ll lose their record contract, won’t get picked up by another ‘Christian’ label, and will thereby cease to be a ‘Christian’ artist.

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    I don’t have faith in faith.
    I don’t believe in belief.
    You can call me faithless,
    and that’s faith enough for me.

    But I still cling to hope,
    and I believe in love,
    and that’s faith enough for me.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    But that still doesn’t explain ruling out Sister Jeanine.

    There’s a simple explanation for that – she’s a Papist

  • OnlyMe

    Many people came from all aroundTo hear this man preach, glorious soundHe spoke of man in harmony and love aboundHe died for the tears in your eyes-Prince(who, from what I understand has recently joined Team JW)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Personally, i’ve always been partial to that one song that’s basically just a paraphrase of Isiah 21. How does it go again? Oh yeah:

    All along the watchtower,
    The princes kept a view,
    while all the women came and went,
    Barefoot servants too.
    Outside in the cold distance,
    A wildcat did growl.
    Two riders were approaching,
    The wind began to howl.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Ani DiFranco sings a glorious “Amazing Grace”. Also there’s this, from “Served Faithfully”:

    You gotta try to understand
    the grandness of the man behind the petty crimes 
    and let him off easy sometimes

    And Laura Love:

    You got plans
    You got dreams
    You got names for everyone who doesn’t look — doesn’t act — doesn’t smell just like you do
    But our house is open to you too
    If you are able
    To put down your little stick — and to sit at our table
    Each and every one of us is happy to set another place for the likes of you

    That’s from “Welcome to Pagan Place”. If you want Christian ideals, gotta run as far away from corporate Christianity as possible.

  • http://spiritnewsdaily.com/ Donovan Moore

    Drop Kick Me Jesus thru the Field goal of life.  Now that’s a Christian song!

  • Barry_D

    I posted a comment there linking back here; it was deleted.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X