Not really a review, but …….
I just finished reading a book that I checked out of my local library. It’s now on the list of must reads for any worship leader / pastor I know. It’s called “Body Piercing Saved My Life” and is so not where your mind just went. The dude that wrote the book used to be an editor for Spin magazine, in his own words he doesn’t have the commitment necessary to call himself agnostic, but he is a fan of Jesus. Now the book is a bit slow to start, basically he takes a look into the inner working of the Christian rock machine, but about half way through he starts getting into praise and worship, into the social activism of the church, and starts looking at the gap between the secular world the church is supposbly reaching and the Christian secluded world we have create for our selves.
Remember this is a totally secular author, he isn’t trying to point any one to a better path, a higher way, or even to discredit Christianity, he is just talking about what it means to him to be a agnostic sitting in a worship service, and how it affects, or doesn’t affect him. Trust me there are several points in the book that I felt the knife dig into my stomach as I read a voice of the world we are trying to reach and the way the CCM form of worship relates to him.
There are points in the book that it seems as if the Christian bashing is about to begin, but it is a journey, a process and even though there are aspects of the CCM scene he hates, he never hates the Christian for being there. Perhaps confused as to how the disparity of the secular culture and the Christian culture was ever created. There is a definite disdain for the fact that Christian labels allow mediocrity to be promoted and listeners subjugated to inane dribble of babbling lyrics and sappy tunes. But honestly, look at the majority of the Christian artist out there, then tell me who they are ripping off from the secular market. I’m not saying the secular market doesn’t do it too, how many Britney Spears are there right now out there? But the reality of the book is there is so much more to glean than that of the CCM industry.
Buy it, Borrow it, steal it from your buddy, READ IT.
Even if music isn’t your scene, this is a real look into just how the church interacts with the culture we are in.
You want the real knife in the gut? He spent a year doing interviews writing this book. Want to guess how many months into it he was before anyone tried to share the gospel with him? Yes he sat through concert after concert, even did the Cornerstone festivals, and I’m sure he heard some preaching from the stage, but in all of his interviews, interviews where he candidly told them from the get go that he was not a Christian, there was so little concern for what they say they are about, reaching this soul for Jesus.
His perspective on the worship services he attended while at the gospel Grammies makes the entire book worth it. You actually have a well written reaction to a secularist finding himself trapped in the middle of a contemporary worship service. Unfortunately if you aren’t a reader, you really do need to read the entire book to get the full picture of this voice.
As far as giving insight into the Christian Rock scene, he majors on some very minor artist a lot. I made it through the entire book and there wasn’t a single reference to Audio Adrenaline, Third Day, or the Apologetix, yet Pedro the Lion (a defunct band now, but was fringe at best during its prime) gets an entire chapter and then some. I understand the desire to address the controversy, and that is definitely done, but dude, Pedro the Lion was the best he could do? Due tribute is paid to Larry Norman and Bono for their influence on the CCM scene, Steven Curtis Chapman, probably the biggest name in the CCM industry is mentioned, but only in a glossing over. The struggle of Christian hip hop is addressed, but by smaller players in the game, Grits making the quarterback of that genre. Steve Taylor is given proper props, the fact that he was able to find Taylor and secure an interview makes the guy’s detective abilities alone superhuman.
He is a little industry heavy on the Christian rock perspective, but he does spend a good chunk of the book complaining about the PR nightmare that is Christian rock, and the fact that he was denied more interviews than allowed with artist. The fans of Christian rock are mostly ignored, other than the artist praising other artist and such. Which honestly in a book looking into the depths of Christian rock you would expect a few interviews with the groupies and crazies of the Christian rock scene.
And yes, you can add this to the list of books i want for my library.