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Body Piercing Saved My LifeReview - Body Piercing Saved My Life
Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock
by Andrew Beaujon
Da Capo, 2006
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Jul 10th 2007 (Volume 11, Issue 28)

Andrew Beaujon's book is not about unusual body piercings but rather about the growth of the Christian Rock movement; the body piercing referred to in the title of the book is of course the crucifixion of Jesus.  Beaujon is not a Christian himself, and indeed he reveals that his father was a Christian minister who was disgraced and ejected from the Church, so his relationship to Christianity is possibly ambivalent.  However, he seems open-minded and he finds that he likes many of the people he meets in his investigations.  Since much of Christian Rock is allied with the politics of the Christian Right, Beaujon encounters people with whom he disagrees profoundly in politics, but he is never patronizing or hostile. 

Music fans who don't know much about the recent developments in Christian rock may associate it with the heavy metal band Stryper or other unappealing versions of the real thing.  In his research, Beaujon, who has been a senior contributing writer for Spin, finds that still much of the Christian rock scene is pretty bad, but that there is some excellent music being made within the insular scene, and it has complexities that are rarely recognized.  For instance, one of the most popular Christian bands is Pedro the Lion, yet the main person behind the group, David Bazan, denies that he is even a Christian any more.  There's little discussion of bands that are sometimes thought of as Christian, but which never associated themselves formally as part of Christian Rock, such as Creed, Iron and Wine, and Sunny Day Real Estate.  Readers should not expect exhaustive discussions of every band that's ever been discussed in the context of Christian Rock.

The book does well in setting out the background and history of Christian rock, and since it is from an outsider's point of view, it does not buy into all the claims made by supporters of the music, but instead assesses them reasonably.  He finds the movement to be insular, and this makes it difficult for him to get access to some of the people in the movement.  Beaujon also is unable to get an interview with Sufjan Stevens, who is one of the best known recent acts known for their association with Christianity.  So much of the book is a tale of his only partial success in getting inside the movement, and his mixed feelings about the people and ideas he encounters when he is able to find out more.  Thus the book is more a memoir of his time doing the research, with some sociology of the movement, rather than a fan's view, or indeed an account from the inside.  Nevertheless the writing style is informal and enjoyable, and the book is interesting. 


© 2007 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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