I’m kind of interested in this new conservative website Culture 11, mostly because they are paying me to write for them occasionally, but partly because they seem interested in engaging with non-like-minded folks like me.
Anyway, I just found an article on Christian music and politics that I thought was kind of interesting. It’s by a fellow named Matthew Stokes, and it read in part:
Do we want artists who oppose, say, the Iraq War with a Christian conscience? I’m not opposed to songs in that vein, actually, but find me a Christian artist who opposes the war without falling back on Moveon.org platitudes and is willing to acknowledge that terrorism in the present age is a real issue. Of course I want Christian artists willing to shine “the light of God on the darkness of racism,” but let’s make sure that it doesn’t turn in to white guilt lectures or typical academic claptrap. And by all means, speak the truth about the realities of poverty and corruption, but let’s always make sure that the facts are straight and we aren’t engaging in class warfare and we aren’t resorting to the State as the solution to these problems. And for heaven’s sake, if Spencer wants to reference Steve Earle, fine, but Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger? I admit they were great songwriters, but let’s avoid the apologists for Stalin and, in Seeger’s case, Hitler. Seriously. And while we’re at it, so what if kids hear that MLK was an adulterer – he was. Does that discount his work? Not in the least; he was a marvelous Christian leader in many, many respects. But if we’re talking about Christians and social change, Charles Wesley and William Wilberforce did a far better job of holding up both the Gospel and the issue of social reforms. And since when is “social Gospel” a slur? I always thought activist Christians had embraced the term. I’ve got a stack of books suggesting that they have and continue to do so.
Anyway, I wrote an (anonymous) response in comments which I’d reproduce here for both of my readers who look at my non-comics related posts….
I’m not a fan of your politics, but I think your general point is correct; there is no engagement without politics of some sort. On the other hand, though music may have politics, it isn’t itself politics — at times here you sound like you want position papers. The radio is not, and shouldn’t be, the Heritage Foundation.
Pete Seeger apologized for Hitler? I’d like to see the link on that, then. And he has since repudiated Stalin, I think quite sincerely.
Merle Haggard is a sometimes (though not always) thoughtful and Christian songwriter who certainly isn’t a leftist Democrat. I don’t think he’s an especial fan of the war, though his songs about it tend to be somewhat elliptical.
Still, the parts of the music industry that are most obsessed with politics at the moment are probably rap and metal. Rap’s a good place to go for discussions of race that aren’t about white guilt or academic claptrap. They tend to be about practical matters, like police harassment, poverty, educational disparities, stuff like that. There’s also black nationalism — which is not at all Democratic Party line, and which (as I think Eugene Genovese tends to point out) is in fact quite conservative in certain ways. Not least in the subordinate position often reserved for women, unfortunately.
And a lot of metal, of course, is quite pro-war — though not, perhaps, exactly in the manner that you’d wish. (There is a fair bit of Christian metal too, incidentally. Mortification is a band that’s pretty good.)