A look at some of the colorful figures who have transformed the Christian rock scene into a flourishing industry.
A non-Christian, but a devoted fan of music and a senior contributing writer for Spin, Beaujon, in his first book, takes an irreverent trip through a booming subculture. He begins by outlining the history of Christian rock, which consisted mostly of embarrassing, albeit somewhat successful, attempts to marry Christian doctrine with rock music. The spandex-clad ’80s group Stryper is an early example of the genre, largely due to their penchant for flinging Bibles into the throngs at their concerts, but as Beaujon begins his journey into the contemporary scene, he discovers that Stryper and their ilk are a distant memory for most. With big bucks being generated by Christian rock’s flagship labels and artists, the author reveals how the industry has sharpened its act in order to appeal to a younger demographic; indeed, the book takes its title from a popular t-shirt that references the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. Beaujon occasionally inserts into the narrative interviews with some of the main players, such as writer and long-time chronicler of the scene Doug Van Pelt and EMI Christian Music Group CEO Bill Hearn, each of which elicit some eyebrow-raising revelations. And his infectious enthusiasm for his subject and his investigation infuses his prose, although he is occasionally prone to lazy journalese, such as when he lapses into overwrought prose when discussing his own life as the son of a Episcopalian priest. Never condescending to his subjects, the author appears to hold a genuine curiosity as to what makes Christian rockers tick, and they in turn welcome his deliberately naïve inquiries, making for a refreshingly unbiased view of a subject that many jaded journalists would find easy to mock.
Beaujon’s wide-eyed interest helps make for a fun, well-balanced account of a fascinating subculture.