Mark Joseph’s fascinating third book in a trilogy about the difficult and oftentimes damaging relationship of Christian musicians with the worlds of mainstream secular music and Christian music.
I’m a friend and colleague of Mark Joseph, so when he asked me to read his book and give an honest review, I was a bit worried. I’m always worried in these cases because I face a potential conflict: If the book is good, no problem. If the book is bad (or worse, boring), I won’t lie and say it’s good. I owe that to God, the writer, and the public. But if that’s the case, then I worry about my relationship with my friend whose book I’ve just trashed.
So I just pray that it’s good and hope that they prefer honesty to boot-licking.
Whew. Rock Gets Religionis not only good, it’s excellent. It’s a well told tale, or rather an episodic series of entertaining tales about some of the most popular musicians in mainstream music and their struggles with integrating their Christian faith or background into their music.
We’re talking the likes of Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Lacrae, Chance the Rapper, Megadeath’s Dave Mustaine, Kendrick Lamar, Avril Lavigne, Kay Perry, Miley Cyrus and others.
That’s right, fascinating details about the spiritual journeys of some who I never realized were Christians, and others who have, shall we say, somewhat altered their beliefs after becoming famous.
But there are also many insightful stories about so-called cross-over artists who were able to bridge the gap into the mainstream with their music despite their explicit “Christian” expression: Mercy Me, Switchfoot, Stacie Orrico, Evanescence, Mumford & Sons, The Fray and others.
Full disclosure, I was raised on the original Christian Rock of the 1970s and early 80s: Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, DeGarmo and Key, Stryper, Daniel Amos, Steve Taylor. But I lost interest in that world in the 90s and have not kept up with any Christian music beyond the popular worship songs that show up at my church. I saw some of the changes going on but I just haven’t cared much about it. Not for any spiritual reason. I just changed in my musical interests.
But what I found fascinating about Rock Gets Religionwas how author Joseph chronicles the very important philosophical/religious/moral struggle that artists go through in bridging those worlds of faith and music.
Sure, he addresses the moral fall that so often accompanies the consequences of success within the mainstream world of secular entertainment. And the all-too-common loss of faith exhibited be some of those very artists listed above.
But more importantly, this book wrestles with the philosophical struggle of what it means to integrate your Christian faith into your art, without being compromising or propagandistic. Every Christian artist knows this struggle.
One quote sums up the insightful exploration of this generational struggle well: Continue reading