Yesterday, Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain clashed with Piers Morgan about whether or not people are born gay. Here's the video:
The important thing to know is that Cain sets out saying that "homosexuality is a sin" because of his "Biblical beliefs," but Morgan quickly steers the conversation into "born this way" territory, outraged that Cain won't concede his point. Cain's response: "What does science show? You show me evidence other than opinion, and you might cause me to reconsider that... Where's the evidence?"
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.")
A couple of commenters have raised questions about progressiveness in country music. Today, I want to suggest that there are progressive voices, at least in Americana, roots, and alt country music, but those voices are limited. They are almost always white, and usually populist and male. There are a few women in country who arguably identify as feminists. None of these artists are evangelical Christians like some major label country musicians, but faith imagery permeates much of their songwriting. It is often used in visions of a Utopian future, or it takes on a perverse meaning.
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):