Christian Idolotry

So, there is going to be a Christian version of American Idol. The latest of many Idol impersonators, the Christ Pop folks are predictably behind the curve on this one and jumping on a fad as its already outliving its usefullness. But such is the way of contemporary Christian co-opting of pop culture.

Co-opting of cultures, of course, has a long history in Chrstianity. The Catholic scholars I went to college with termed it "Putting New Wine in Old Bottles". Basically, it was a way of winning converts by shortening the trip from pagan to believer. So, it really shouldn't be a surprise that Christian's continue to immitate the work of the pagans in service of their faith.

Except, the motivation seems to have changed dramatically, and the result ain't as nice as Christmas. I mean, who is getting converted by the awful pop music that's put out by the Christ Pop industry? Come on, you've all heard the damn informercials late at night. The music sucks, plain and simple. A couple artists have found ways to incorporate faith into their music, but not the complete-lack-of-subtlety artists that are all the rage of full-blown Christ Pop. I don't know a single Christian who enjoys "Christian" music, because frankly its just plain awful.

Clearly, a lot of people do enjoy it, though. I have to suspect, however, that they do so not on the merits of the music (one hopes, anyway), but rather purely on the subject matter. They consider all non-Christian music to be sinful or whatever. They only want worshipful music. Fine, whatever. A lot of good worshipful music has been made over the years, though. Gospel, hymnsongs, spirituals, the great masses, all really fantastic and enjoyable music. Why not listen to that?

Because I suspect the real purpose of Christ Pop is retention, not conversion. They fear pop-culture's pull, but instead of presenting a fundamentally different alternative, they just want to remake pop culture in Christ's image. The think the young folks won't stick around unless they can play Pagan like all their friends. The thing is, the folks who seem to like Christ Pop are pretty much the sort of people who would loathe anything not completely Christian. So, why bother with the pseudo pagan Idolotry?

Its funny, because I actually really want to see the new movie Saved, which at first glance looked like a Christ Pop kinda movie, but a second glance is clearly a more mature look at Christian youth culture, neither cheerleading or condemning them. I'm especially encouraged to see Mandy Moore playing the stock character of the overt Christian who is more concerned with everyone knowing how Christian she is than actually being a good Christian. Moore is very committed to her faith, but its good to see that she's not a blind bible-thumper, but that she can have a sense of humor about the subject, too. I love her line-reading on the commercial quote "I am FILLED with Christ's love!" Its clearly an over-the-top portrayal, but I can't say I don't know people just like that.

But, I suspect, more thin skinned Christian's will take issue with the film, just as they take issue with all things pop-culture until they figure out how to imitate it.

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