Being queer at a private Christian school, I thought I’d heard homosexuality compared to just about everything. But I was caught off guard by the recent remarks of Dr. Erik Thoennes, a professor at my alma mater, Southern California’s Biola University. At a panel discussion nominally on homosexuality—a discussion that conveniently didn’t feature even one LGBTQ-affirming speaker—Dr. Thoennes likened homosexuality to racism.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about the silliness of "True Love Waits"-style campaigns, but it never really occurred to me to think about how a child who has been raped might experience these shaming "abstinence-only" discourses. That is to say, this would be particularly cruel, painful, and potentially traumatic for such a child.
Potentially even worse than teen purity rallies, I think, are the "purity balls."
Consider the opening line of this local news video: "Would you pledge your virginity to your father?"
Last week, a friend sent me a link to the blog Stuff Christian Culture Likes. Not to be confused with the evangelical site, Stuff Christians Like, Stuff Christian Culture Likes zeroes in on the strangeness of US evangelicalism with a more jaded perspective.
The blog raises an issue that I've been thinking about a lot recently—that is, that evangelicalism has its own weird language, with its smattering of words that take on a completely different meaning in evangelical culture. It even coins words and phrases of its own. In another post, I outlined some of the terms related to Christian patriarchy that I think you should know. Here, I offer another list of problematic entries (in no particular order), each paired with a corresponding Christian Contemporary Music track that you can find on YouTube.
So, Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle, songwriter and poet laureate of the existentially anguished, identifiesas a feminist and has even said that his feminist ideals conflict with his Catholic faith. When I first heard this, I was quite surprised. Why? Well, listen to one reason, a song called "Bad Priestess" (lyrics).
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
After she read my last post about sexist Christian music, my friend, Sarah Morice Brubaker of Religion Dispatches, told me I'd gotten a terrible Christian song called "How Beautiful" into her head. I'd heard it many years ago, but what I didn't realize was that it makes frequent appearances at evangelical Christian weddings. It's a truly horrific song, but it got me thinking: This business about "husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church" is more or less the foundation of Christian Right politics. Any guesses where we can learn all about it? That's right: Dippy Christian wedding songs!
I have a confession to make. I was raised in an evangelical Christian home, and when I was much much younger... I was a fan of contemporary Christian music (CCM). Oh, yes. I reailzed just how much of an affront to music it is almost half of my life ago, but lately, I've been thinking about just how entrenched it is in the ideology of the Christian Right. Consider this awful 1995 track by Twila Paris called "Rescue the Prisoner." (The "prisoner," it turns out, is a member of the LGBTQ community who is said to be "demanding rights" and "defending wrong.")
There's a script for women in commercial country music that doesn't necessarily coincide with more mainstream stereotypes and assumptions about women. If you've ever heard Carrie Underwood's ubiquitous 2007 single, "Before He Cheats" (lyrics), you'll recognize the tropes.
Of course there are exceptions, but the ideal country woman is often blond (and white), feisty, world-wise, and hot. She is deeply possessive of her man, and aims to squelch competitors for his affection. She gives the appearance of working-class roots even if she didn't grow up working class, and she's equally comfortable talking about guns (Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder and Lead"), Jesus (Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel"), and heterosexual romantic relationships (Dixie Chicks' "Cowboy Take Me Away").
One of the newer variations on these themes is the girl group Pistol Annies (Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley). Check out the first single of their August LP, Hell on Heels (lyrics):
Season six is my favorite season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I like the dark themes, and I like seeing Willow grow up and mature as a result of her grief. (I also like the musical episode.) Recently, I was talking over Buffy when my friend, Bitch contributor Emily Manuel, reminded me about the surprising musical accompaniment to that season's final moments. This is the moment when Xander Harris forgives Willow Rosenberg, and Sarah McLachlan's "Prayer of St. Francis" plays in the background (lyrics):
Americana artist Gillian Welch has always included southern Christian imagery in her work. Though not native to the South, her music is at its most comfortable when it explores the tragedy and violence of working-class survival in the region. Welch and partner David Rawlings write and record sparse songs unlike any others. In part, this has to do with Rawlings' masterful guitar work, but it also stems from Welch's unuusal singing voice.
See "The Way it Goes" from new album, The Harrow and the Harvest (lyrics here):