Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Skewer Me in My Own Pages: CCM, World, & Patrol magazines

I was stunned.

I thought the news I was reading for the (surprisingly) first time--that CCM magazine was discontinuing its print edition after its 30-year anniversary edition---was big enough.

And indeed it is huge news. CCM is an institution, the veritable Christianity Today for CCM (Contemporary Christian Music).
Reading even the perceptive headline ("Death in the Subculture,"); subtitle ("Demise of Christian music magazine signals hard times for Christian rock"); and first paragraph:
("Some cultural phenomena—rock music, for example—seem to die once a decade. Now veterans of the Christian music industry are asking whether Christian rock is dead.") in the very insightful article, cues us in to what news and shift it is.

Part of my shock was that just days earlier I had discovered Charlie Peacock's bold and prophetic article in CCM, and posted it here; half-kidding that I had better post it, as I doubt CCM will keep it posted on their site very long. I thought, "Why in the world would CCM allow this pure and subversive (to their own system, anyway) truth to be printed? They must have not read it, or deserve kudos for wanting to believe it...or maybe they are going out of business, anyway, so what have they got to lose.

That last part was meant to be a joke; it wasn't on my radar that they would fold.

But the real shock and radical news here is below.

I was at my parents house for cell group when I read the World article about CCM (That is telling, isn't it? I have to read World at my parents house..). Before I could even take in the second paragraph; I had do do a double take on the name of the magazine. "Who wrote this? This is not the usual World line (Reformed, a bit stodgy and square, though some good stuff pops up)?!"

"In Christian college campuses and in church youth groups where CCM used to circulate, copies of Paste or references to Pitchfork Media are now more common.."

Wow, I didn't know World Magazine even knew about Paste and Pitchfork. (I remember one gal from our church who told about being a new Christian, saved out of a "worldly" lifestyle, once attending a megachurch women's retreat with a bit of fear and trembling; fearing these well-meaning women were part of a system where you had to dress up and not talk honestly and authentically about all of life. Though the speaker's sessions were predictable and safe; and the women impeccably dressed up even on retreat, she overheard some women on the break talking about oral sex. She actually thought, 'These women know about that? I thought Christians didn't talk about, or know about stuff like that." She was radically relived).
How cool is that; they have actually heard of Paste, let alone Pitchfork! They must have outsourced this article.

I glanced at the byline at bottom. The World article was by a "David Sessions, editor of Patrol Magazone/"

I had never heard of the mag or editor, but I knew I needed to.

Then I read on, as Sessions perceptively chronicled the last ditches of CCM's downfall.
The phrase I double-underlined here is in bold print. I actually thought something like (it should sound familiar),"Why in the world would World allow this pure and subversive (to their own system, anyway) truth to be printed? They must have not read it, or deserve kudos for wanting to believe it...or (joking) maybe they are going out of business, anyway, so what have they got to lose."

CCM's editors broadened its focus to include "Christian worldview music"—music made by Christians but not necessarily intended for an exclusively evangelical audience. The magazine had previously covered only music with explicit religious content, a perennial annoyance to Christian artists who believed music should incorporate all aspects of life and creation without forced utterances of Jesus' name or clichéd religious imagery.

The magazine's new incarnation was a step in the right direction
but was too little too late—even "Christian worldview music" is a scope too narrow ..

Perhaps it shouldn't surprise that World admits(or allows a guest writer to express) that
becoming more honest and holistic about sacred/secular distinctions was a step in the right
direction...not if they are truly Reformed in approach to culture and "common grace." But World just feels cheesy and conservagelical sometimes.
But I couldn't wait to research Davis Sessions and Patrol Magazine.

After finding their website, within two links, I found an article
("ESCABGMWSPOMRLAH, which stands for:Enough Stupid Christian Articles Bashing Good Movies With Stupid Plays On MPAA Rating Letters As Headlines) which slammed World twice:

But our attention has been suddenly and jarringly turned to the world of film, which we also follow with interest, and to what Christians are saying about it. What one Christian is saying about it, in this instance, and let us just say right now that we should all be thoroughly embarassed. We wouldn’t even expect to see something like this in the pages of World. Which is probably why we found it on WorldNetDaily. (One of the articles which inspired our headline was from World, Andrew Coffin’s ridiculous “V for Vile.”)

Whoah, I laughed. Surely that wasn't written by David Sessions. was!

Whatsup with all that?

While you are scratching on that, try out some honest article from Patrol on Switchoot (with lines that would never be allowed in CCM or World), David Crowder, or (gasp) Radiohead.

Even a David Sessions piece that finally says aloud in a title, what I hope some of you have been saying:
"How every Christian band, musician, and gospel singer manages Linkto sound like Coldplay."

Finally, and full circle. a must-read article by Sessions on the death of CCM. Brilliantly and brutally honest; it highlights the Charlie Peacock editorial:

"In a rare act of editorial heroism, CCM allowed itself to be skewered in its own pages, as Peacock politely but stingingly delivers the most truthful assessment of Christian music industry probably ever published"

We all need, I need to need, "rare acts of editorial (blogs, sermons) heroism" and honesty which "stingingly delivers truth" to art/empire/industry...and only truth.

So help us God...and culture.

PS: Patrol Magazine's "about" statement:

Based in Washington, D.C., Patrol is an online music and media magazine devoted to searching out the truly inspired. And that, of course, means keeping pretension, repetition, and imitation off the streets. By highlighting an eclectic mix of media and applying incisive, accessible criticism, Patrol aims to sharpen critical perspectives and develop appreciation for excellently executed creative work.

Patrol began in 2006 as “The CCM Patrol,” providing a lone voice of critical analysis in the Christian music industry.



CCM makes you lie

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