Monday, August 22, 2011


Every time I write a review for Christianity Today Magazine, I receive one or more strident comments from readers who wonder why CT is publishing such unedifying trash.

It's okay. It's kind of my specialty, I suppose. This is because I usually review "non-Christian" music -- genuine, non-religious, non-denominational, non-praise anthems (or not) from people of unknown or indifferent theological persuasions. Personally, I find a lot of this stuff edifying. Merriam-Webster tells me that means "to instruct and improve, especially in moral and religious knowledge," and that works for me, even with Jeff Bridges and The Hold Steady who, to my knowledge, wouldn't be caught dead in a catechism class. My latest review is an album by Jeff Bridges, a dude known for playing The Dude in the movies, and not previously known for any musical abilities. And sure enough, there were two comments left on the website that noted the lack of edification in the review. I presume that they were suitably warned off from the music by the lack of Christian content, although I did my best to note why I liked the album, and thought it worth hearing.

What is a little disheartening about this process is that those were the only two comments on the review. Based on an admittedly ridiculously limited sample, the Christian community is batting 1.000 against the Dude and non-edification. This is an album where Bridges sings a song called "Nothing Yet," which isn't about Jesus, and doesn't contain the words "loss," "cross," "grace" or "face," but which does contain a rather startling reflection on a life mostly spent, and regret, and sorrow, and a determined resolve to live the part that remains better than what has passed.

If only he had called it "Deathbed Repentance" it would have been so much more edifying. But he's a non-Christian, as far as I know, and probably a sinner of the first magnitude. We shouldn't be supporting this kind of stuff in a Christian publication.


notesandbeats said...

This may be your best post yet. And the Amy Winehouse one.

Joel said...

I try not to let comments like that get to me. But they do.

Well said, Andy.

Connie said...

Andy, I love you. And this is one of the many reasons why.

Gotta love how...if we just slap some Christian-ese on it, it's automatically better, more "edifying" as you say--and EVERYthing else is not. The latter was part of the mindset I grew up in. SO glad I now know better.

Keep up the good work, man.

cooldog01 said...


As usual, you've nailed it.

I wonder what the "edification" writers would think of Tom Waits' "Chocolate Jesus."

"Man of sorrow, acquainted with grief..."

I wonder how that fits in with this whole feel-good Christianity mindset.

travellinghaj said...

thanks for your post!

Pilgrim said...

Hugh Laurie?