Rock & Roll Books
Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock
by Andrew Beaujon
Da Capo, 291 pp., $16.95
People seeking religious freedom, we learned in history class, founded America. Puritan principles and morals still drive the ideology of our culture, and there's no better evidence of that than in pop culture. Almost everyone of a certain age has had a brief flirtation with Christian rock, and U2 doesn't count. Former Spin contributor Andrew Beaujon understands this phenomenon and sets out to understand and explain why this genre is emblematic of America itself. Beaujon pulls no punches in his examination of the contemporary Christian music industry and how it makes a palimpsest of those in the fold who perpetrate the unforgivable sins of adultery (Michael English) and homosexuality (Marsha Stevens). He also reveals the blinding whiteness of Christian music, which obviously mirrors the demographic makeup of the Religious Right. While he's always respectful, Beaujon subtly points out Christian culture's tendency to insulate itself from the secular world and then turns his critical gaze on those who choose to operate outside of that space, particularly David Bazan of Pedro the Lion. Bazan is the exemplary artist of faith, acknowledging his devotion to Jesus while questioning the establishment that purports to promote His values and teachings. In the end, Beaujon argues, it's this testing of limits that makes Christian rock uniquely American, for better or worse.