so i just finished body piercing saved my soul and i must say that it does not disappoint. throughout this engaging, episodic narrative andrew beaujon does not settle for providing an overview of the christian music industry but plunges headlong into evangelical culture by attending the annual gospel music convention and GMA awards, interviewing a number of CCM lifers such as steve taylor and even subjecting himself to modern worship cds. throughout his journey, beaujon occasionally critiques the superficiality of the industry (he makes several derogatory remarks about the supposed “jesuses per minute” expectations that are foisted upon artists and he finds it odd that the christian marketing reps go out of their way to deemphasize the size of joy williams’ breasts) and is often baffled by the more absurd expressions of evangelicalism’s “us against the world” orientation (as when he responds to a christian musician’s testimony of “persecution” by saying, “sorry, dude, a drunken idiot shouting ‘satan rules’ when you play in a bar isn’t quite the same thing as being nailed to a tree”). however, as at least one reviewer brighter than me has noted, the most compelling characteristic of the story is beaujon’s deep desire to understand evangelical culture and his overwhelming empathy concerning the intentions and aims of the wide variety of evangelicals (from jay bakker to dave bazan) that he encounters along the way. near the end of the book, i was startled by beaujon’s compassion for a culture that is not his own and challenged to be more charitable towards a culture that, like it or not, is my own.
there is also a wonderful little narrative twist near the end of the book that i am dying to tell you about, but i won’t. you’ll have to read about it.
additional highlights include: conversations with dave bazan, brandon ebel and david crowder, an intriguing profile of sufjan stevens, his quirky descriptions of the wow worship phenomenon and his unflinching observations concerning the barely subterranean tensions that still divide african-american and anglo christians in america.
minor lowlights include: his indifference towards americana music in general and bill mallonee in particular, the relatively unengaging profile on rock for life and the pro-life movement and the failure to mention – at any single point – the influence that progressive, christocentric, iconoclastic influence rich mullins levied upon contemporary christian music.
you should buy this book. so go on then…