Here's what I've been reading the last couple of days:
Red and Blue God, Black and Blue America, by Becky Garrison.
Body Piercing Saved My Life, by Andrew Beaujon.
Garrison is the senior contributing editor of The Wittenburg Door, and she brings her sharp wit to bear on the politicization of the church on both left and right. She's an equal-opportunity satirist. And she makes some good points about the message of the Gospel getting lost in political powerplays. But the book has a tone that started to wear on me -- kind of a sarcastic, smart-alecky turn of phrase that works well in the short form of a magazine, but maybe is less well-suited to a book. But it's still worth reading and since the chapters function well as stand-alone essays, it's easy to skip ahead.
Last night I started reading Body Piercing Saved My Life and stayed up way too late because I really enjoyed it. Beaujon is looking at Christian music as an outsider -- he's a music journalist and describes himself as non-religious and not ever likely to be. But he comes at his subject with an open mind and a willingness to accept the people he interviews as they are. (A lesson most Christians would do well to learn.) He picks up quickly on some common traits of the evangelical subculture -- individualism and an emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus, in particular -- and offers some sharp observations. He doesn't gloss over the dreck that has been Christian music over the years, but he also finds some gems to highlight. And I really enjoyed his capsule history of Christian music, as well as his interviews with industry "lifers."
While the story he tells is engaging and he's certainly part of the story, it's also well-researched and objective. This is a fascinating look at Christian music from a fresh viewpoint.