General Introduction
– Hey, there are three of us
– A suggestion from Josh Altmanshofer
– The bizarro-world podcast

Starting with the Personal
– Nathan Gilmour, bodyguard to the “stars”
– How Christian college kills your interest in Christian rock
– David’s family traditions
– The sins of Bill Gothard
– Boxing up the secular music
– Michial digs a little deeper
– Chrindie rock and Christian alternative

A Quick Background Sketch of the Early Days
– The counterculture of the 1970s
– Why Larry Norman is so important
– Why should the devil have all the good music?
– Pro-life activism and Christian rock
– David’s Forrest Gump moment
– It’s a different world (than where you come from)
A New Kind of Jesus Rock Record

A New Song?
– How revolutionary was early Christian rock?
– Nathan breaks the dichotomy…again
– The importance of the record store as a cultural institution

Let’s Attack Christian Rock!
– The ad hominem circumstantial argument
– Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll
– Co-opting Platonism
– How David changed his mind
– Is someone having sex to monastic chants?
– The “carbon-copy” argument
– Christian music’s distinct identity
– Nathan Gilmour kicks it old school
– Is Christian music objectively worse?
– Does Christian rock even want to be good rock?
– How iTunes changed the game

What is Christian Rock For?
– Is it a ministry or an artistic expression?
– Punting the witnessing question
– Making specific music for specific people
– Afflicting the comfortable with Steve Taylor
– Playing Nine Inch Nails in church
– Self-affliction: What rock ‘n’ roll does best

Lightning Round: Fix CCM in 60 Seconds
– Rock harder
– Reconsider what the genre does best
– Get with the times
– Make Christian rock and call it Christian rock
– Focus on quality

4 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist, Episode #35: Christian Rock”
  1. Fun discussion. Two statements in particular I enjoyed):

    “Dr Dre’s misguided children ruined rap.”

    -i never feel older than when i talk about how rap used to be good and now it sucks, but I’m right…and so is Nathan

    “90% of pop is also objectively bad”

    -I like the insight that most pop AND Christian music is pragmatic, behaviorist, commodity rather than art (construed primarily for its utility in dancing and church services respectively). I found that my blanket rejection of music by Christians was as misguided as my uncritical acceptance of it. My local pop station is every bit as intolerable as KLOVE…because neither of them are interested in art. But wrt artist that skillfully interact with themes that engage me aesthetically (life, love, death, loss, God, Jesus, boredom, work, parenthood, aging, powerlessnes, beauty…) I kind of like metaphysical diversity in the artists I turn to. And I find that I like to mix my Pandora playlists accordingly (e.g. Tool/Thrice).

    I also liked the idea that Christians could have a broader thematic pallet than their non-Christian counterparts. In some ways, market driven thematic pigeon holing is another similarity between Christian and pop music. They both focus disproportionally on the experience of infatuation (again, a behaviorist profit strategy): either with God or a new human romantic interest.

  2. This episode made the drive from Athens to Tifton seem an hour shorter and for that I greatly thank you. I’ve especially enjoyed your sessions on Christian music. Having fairly eclectic musical tastes, I sometimes struggle with what is the “best” music to integrate into a worship service. This is compounded by being a member of our PCUSA contemporary worship praise team (I’m not a musician rather a percussionist, which is defined as a musician’s best friend). Your observations on CCM and CR led to soul searching–is it a feeling in and of itself or a true component of worship? I believe CCM in a worship service is (for me) similar to a prayer of invocation; reminding me to open my heart to the message to be received during the sermon. Thanks for the gentle (Michial’s middle name?) reminder of what the point of worship is supposed to be about.

    Back to the CR — indeed, as you note, the take home is the quality of the music! That’s probably why I don’t listen to it…. Then again, outside of church, I don’t listen much to CCM either. Of course I can’t really label myself as a musical genre expert. In my youth, I used to suspect that Kerry Livgren and Kansas were injecting subliminal religious concepts into their songs, thus subverting the true theme of drugs, sex, and rock & roll (“carry on” indeed!).

    Well, back to grading exams for me. Michial–please stop in at Central the next time you reach Athens. Wayne and I need your support!

    Oh, one final note from a R&R has-been: the song “Free Ride” isn’t a Doobie Brothers (perhaps they covered it at a later point in time?) but is rather an Edgar Winter Group (of “Frankenstein” fame) hit from 1973. The pain of knowing this old school trivia from high school days forced me to share…

    Take care,


    1. You suspected correctly, Doug–Kerry Livgren is a Christian and has made overtly religious records since the days of Kansas. John Elefante, who sang for Kansas for awhile, was for a time a major CCM producer.

      I don’t remember saying that “Free Ride” was the Doobie Brothers, but if we did, I’m sure we were confusing it with “Jesus Is Just Alright With Me,” which was covered by DC Talk around the same period.

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