Monday, October 07, 2002

JPUSA, Christian Rock

Doug got an earlier flight than he thought he would on the way home. He showed up at the airport three hours early and asked if he could get on an earlier flight than the one he planned on getting into. They told him there was room, so he called me. Instead of getting him at 8:45pm, he got in at 5:20. So we had dinner and got to catch up.

The wedding was in the Uptown Baptist Church, which is on the same street but several blocks up from where Lee lives at Jesus People, USA, or JPUSA for short. If you visit the website, be sure to go to it through Internet Explorer. Netscape does not render the pages at all... they come up blank. Mark of a bad webdesigner if you ask me, but... I've made my share of bad design mistakes and I won't hold it against them.

JPUSA was started in 1972 by a Christian Rock band called The Resurrection Band. They were pretty popular for a long time, and then got totally into this community thing.

Lee and Stefie's wedding was performed by one of the former band members -- Glenn Kaiser.

In my opinion (note, that's MY opinion there... you can freely disagree if you like) JPUSA isn't a cult. They are affiliated strongly with Chicago's Evangelical Covenant Church. Some people think they are cult-like, and I often joke about it with Doug and Scott (Scott, living in Chicago and getting a Ph.D. in theological studies is very familiar with folks from JPUSA). Doug told me that unlike a cult people come and go all the time, but our buddy Lee is... well. He's been there forever. He told us 10 years ago that he was going to stay there forever and "die with the Jesus People." I'm glad he's found a place that makes him happy. More power to ya, buddy!

JPUSA is also affiliated with Cornerstone Magazine, which is a hugely popular conservative Christian publication, one which I haven't read since 1984 or so.

They also started a wildly famous music festival called Cornerstone... and I have lots of friends and acquaintances from around here who drive out to Chicago whenever it is held.

I've never gone.

I'm not a big fan of Christian Rock. It always has sort of smacked of insincerity to me... the YOU could mean a girl in a love song or God... it's all interchangable.

Don't get me wrong, in all genres there are poseurs and there are authentically talented people that I admire. Even in Rap. Believe it or not -- I can count a few rap artists in my mind that I think do a good job. Most of it sucks though.

Same with Christian music. I liked Amy Grant a lot when I was in High School, don't laugh. Long before she fell into the trappings of Country Nashville culture and left her dishy husband for... Vince Gill? What's up with that? He's so gross.

Keith Green has always been one of my favorite musicians -- his sincerity I never questioned. He died before I even discovered him. He could play a piano inside out... he was like Hendrix on the keys.

I loved Steve Taylor back in college. He played a concert at our school and I thought he was just the best. He SO 80s and sarcastic. He wore big weird suits like David Byrne and had a lot of electronica in his music before anyone else did.

Randy Stonehill music was played at my wedding reception, and it was great music to have as part of my memories of that day. Gregg J. brought a CD and played it while we were eating. It was lovely. I guess he's got a new children's album out now and a lot of people are just loving it... I should check it out for the kids.

Another great album was from The 77s... their first one "Ping Pong over the Abyss" lived in my walkman for over a year. They've released 14 albums since then and I've not heard a single one.

Real life Catholic monk-dude John Michael Talbot also known as the "Troubador for the Lord" is an amazing guitarist, songwriter, with a gorgeous tenor voice, and a sense of spirit rivalled by none. I love the work he's done musically. His album "The Painter" is one of my favorite works of music and art.

The musician that hooked me into the genre in the first place is Larry Norman. His album "Only Visiting This Planet" was on the shelf at a house where I was babysitting.

Sidebar note: The people I sat for were Christian Jews, or Jews for Jesus, which bothers me. Either you are a Jew, or you're a Christian. Christ himself made that clear, people. You can be a Christian who likes Jewish tradition and makes the OT part of the bible important in daily life, or, you can be a Jew. Once you accept Christ -- guess what. You are not a Jew any longer. But... I digress. I know a few people who call themselves Jews for Jesus, and they are sterling, golden, shining people that I love. I have had this argument with them and they insist that Jesus never stopped being a Jew. So they should also be Jews... for Jesus. Okay. Whatever. I digress.

Anyway -- like I was saying, I was sitting for some folks who had the album and I liked the cover. I popped it on the turntable, and listened and loved it -- I asked them if I could borrow it, and they let me keep it. I still have it today.

It's a great album. And for a lot of people it is THE Christian album of the century last. I have to say it is in my top 100 albums of all time... Larry is such an amazing poet. My friend Gregg goes to see him live whenever he can. I guess he's still an amazing performer.

But I've moved away from any knowledge of substance in the Christian music scene. There are a lot of popular artists who are "Christian" artists, either by record label boxing or their own admission. P.O.D., dcTalk, Jars of Clay... of those three I only like Jars of Clay. P.O.D. is trying too hard to be Korn. dcTalk I've despised since I first had them cross my ears. Ugh. They are horrid. Of course, there is U2, and the Alarm fell into a Christian categorization in the 80s. I think that killed their career, that coupled with the constant comparisons to U2.

And SixPence None the Richer are Christians but not a lot of people know that. They seem to be ashamed of the label, or at least hiding their affiliation so people won't "judge" them before hearing their music. Too bad. Their music is pretty good. They had that one big radio hit "Kiss Me," and everyone knows that one.

The Call had one big radio hit in the 80s/90s "Let the Day Begin." I thought they would be the evangelical breakthrough band of the century... at least as big as U2 or REM for alternative Christian types. When I wasn't listening to Ping Pong over the Abyss (see above) It was "Reconciled" by the Call in my tape walkman. "Everywhere I Go" and "I Still Believe" were very important songs to me as I was starting to grow into my faith. We have a local radio station that pulls "Let the Day Begin" out once in a while smile and cry. What a great anthem.

A lot of Christians are really REALLY into Creed. They're okay. But give me the Foo Fighters any day instead.

I haven't listened to any "Christian" music since leaving college. I've never even heard stuff from ResBand... Gregg and Doug both are familiar with them.

I don't know if I'm missing anything really.

Anyway -- I was talking about JPUSA and ended up all over this Christian Rock thing. What's gotten into me?

All I know is that music is very spiritual for me. Be it a hymn in church, or something played softly on guitar, or the Indigo Girls. Whatever touches me deep in my heart, Randy Stonehill or October Project -- doesn't need a label on it per se. I can feel as close to God when listening to "Solibury Hill" by Peter Gabriel as I do when I hear Enya, or old John Michael Talbot music. I don't limit my intake based on my faith. There's a lot of good Christian music out there, I'm sure.

But... I've admittedly been steering clear. Except for Veggie Tales CDs, which I get to listen to and enjoy with the shorties. I'm quite happy though with my BNL and DMB fixations right now.

I've got a load of things to take care of today, including taking Jack to the Vet for a quick checkup and frontline. He's picking up a lot of ticks, and he's limping and I don't know why. I think Kinger might have trounced him but good.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is real nice... Kept me interested...anyway about jpusa... They are or at least were worse than any cult could be... For me my mom joined... They acted nice until they got everything... Then their true colours ...bam hits you ... They told my mom that she would have to give up he children to others who God said to raise... Wow they told her she was not capable... So they give me to the leader neil taylor... Duh neil is gay and immediatly took off my clothes and departed to make me bathe with him immediatly. He is a gross penis... He was obsessed with me because i was a seven year old boy and was soooo cute... All the times he rubbed one off on my ass... Wow he could fill a barrel..... Well never did i get to tell my mom he would make me stay away from everyone and then when he was horney come get me for bathing. The weirdo...