Andrew Beaujon,
Body Piercing Saved My Life:
Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock

(Da Capo Press, 2006)

Christian rock is such a love/hate topic. Bands either embrace the label, reject it outright or try to toe a line. Fans, writers and magazines try not to get branded with the Christian rock kiss of death, even if they respect the genre as a whole. As a reviewer, I think my personal beliefs are going to come into play, so here they are: I'm a huge rock fan, a religious person and I would never touch anything on a Christian record label with a 10-foot pole.

Andrew Beaujon has made an important academic contribution to the study of the genre of Christian rock. I took a lot away from his book -- U2's significant religious message and sentiment, the evolution of bands like P.O.D. who successfully crossed into mainstream rock respect, the roots of evangelical and worship music as a response to the hippie movement, and more. Beaujon references dozens of other books and magazines, and I'm very interested in picking up Doug Van Pelt's Rock Stars on God interview collection after reading Beaujon's comments about it.

One featured researcher/speaker, David Dark, theorizes that if God shaped everything in the universe, then it is probably blasphemous to think that there is such as thing as a secular molecule anywhere. That is, Christians should engage in popular culture and analyze it for messages as needed. Personally, I found this to be the highlight of the book -- here is a Christian leader with a message that everything should be evaluated at face value, and there is no need for a secluded genre. Our author, however, dismissed the speaker with a comment that he "left the room wondering whether I'd just driven 750 miles to hear Christian kids get the okay to listen to Eminem."

There are gems in this nearly 300-page tome, but as a body of work, this collection is aimless. Others have praised Beaujon's journalistic style, which I find to be precisely his downfall. This book reads like a collection of magazine pieces, and not even a serialized collection at that. Beaujon wanders around the country looking for material, but the book has no direction or thesis, and the chapters don't tie into one another. He prints interviews verbatim at times, rather than using the quotes to tell a story. As stand-alone magazine pieces, each of the chapters would be moderately interesting, but to sell this book as a definite source on the Christian rock phenomenon is misleading.

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
30 September 2006

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