Posted by Shawn David Young

From Jesus Music to Lady Gaga

It comes as no surprise that the nation’s capitol has continued down the partisan path, while offering lip service to ideological equanimity. These dichotomies appear to be, to some extent, simply part of the human experience. And when it comes to religion and politics nowhere are these dichotomies quite as salient. A poignant reminder of … Continue reading

NEWS: Pop Music and the Occult?

Problems associated with racism have often been the result of ill-conceived notions about nation and divine favor. Moreover, consumers of popular music have often associated blues and rock ‘n’ roll with evil. Although the culture wars created public debates (and fears) which focused on perceived connections between pop music and the Devil, none came close … Continue reading

NEWS: John Mellencamp and African-American Religion

The search for authenticity is everywhere. Musicians argue over what is true to the original expression, whether rap, folk, blues, or anything attached to a history of struggle. The same can be said about religious experience. But what is truly authentic? At what point does something cease being authentic? In true Americana form, singer and … Continue reading

NEWS: Anne Rice Leaves Christianity to Follow Jesus

Amid the complexity (and tumult) that is the history of American Christianity, conflict over what is essential to Christian identity dies hard. The Salem witch trials, the Scopes Monkey Trial, Roe v. Wade, and the ongoing debate over “family values” are all part of the larger evangelical legacy. While evangelicals also have a separate history … Continue reading

NEWS: Religion and Heavy Metal Music

Born Ronaldo Giovanni Padavona, heavy metal music icon Ronnie James Dio (known for his operatic voice of thunder) passed away recently. Dio has performed with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own solo project, Dio. With song titles such as “Gates of Babylon,” “Heaven & Hell,” “Holy Diver,” and “The Devil You … Continue reading

NEWS: Jazz as Religion

Historian David W. Stowe’s most recent article, “Both American and Global: Jazz and World Religions in the United States,” offers a quick overview of one of America’s most enduring styles of music, then neatly connects this uniquely American music to religious belief and experience. By the end of the piece, one is left viewing jazz … Continue reading

NEWS: The Emerging Christian Monasticism

Evangelical Christianity is always changing. This is nothing new. What is new, however, is the growing interest in contemplative spirituality and a “new monasticism” amongst some young evangelicals. Speaking of Faith’s Krista Tippett offers a look into a movement difficult to classify—one beyond the conventional right/left binary. Shane Claiborne, founding member of The Simple Way, … Continue reading

NEWS: Recognizing Difference is Good

In American society we have (understandably) a multitude of opinions about God. This goes without saying. But how we deal with difference has consequences. The result of multiculturalism and pluralism has, according to professor of religion Stephen Prothero, collapsed all of these ideas about God and religious belief into one manageable whole. In an attempt … Continue reading

NEWS: Lady Gaga and Marketing the Esoteric

Lady Gaga captivates those interested in the power of celebrity. But her persona goes beyond what is typically associated with simple pop-stardom. Given the imagery used in her public presentation, she has been suspected of being involved with the Illuminati and various expressions of the occult, causing many to consider the possibility of a secret … Continue reading

NEWS: Christian Musicians Come out of the Closet

Contemporary Christian music (CCM) is decidedly conservative and evangelical. However, like most areas of life the closet is filled with all sorts of things, to include artists who have felt the need to live secret lives due to their sexual orientation. CCM artist Jennifer Knapp recently confirmed what many suspected. Douglas Harrison, assistant professor of … Continue reading

NEWS: Rolling Stone, Tom Wolfe, and Religion

The editors of Rolling Stone have interviewed various personalities who, in their estimation, have shaped our time. Among those interviewed was author Tom Wolfe. While Wolfe has been revered as one who brought the counterculture to the mainstream via works such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, his acclaim has often been tempered with an … Continue reading

NEWS: Secular Spaces: Can Evangelicals Remain Neutral?

Greg Boyd, recognized theologian, preacher, author, and founder of the evangelical mega-church Woodland Hills, in St. Paul, Minnesota, was asked to deliver a speech at the inauguration of David M. Dooley as the 11th president of the University of Rhode Island. Boyd’s lecture was titled “Creating the Future: The Role of the University in Transforming … Continue reading

NEWS: Religion and Academic Freedom

It should be no surprise that the culture war would appear within Pentecostalism. Hot-button topics such as gay marriage and creationism frequent denominational discussions and, as expected, end in a relatively conservative consensus. But one would not expect an academic organization (even if religious in origin) to wield power in the interest of silencing academic … Continue reading

NEWS: Religion as Sinful

Sara Miles has authored a new book titled Jesus Freak: Feeding, Healing, Raising the Dead. After a profound conversion to Christianity she continues to question human attempts at religion, viewing them as socially constructed, arguing that we can find the sacred everywhere—that when we find holiness in everyday life, we become something different, perhaps whole. … Continue reading

NEWS: Angels or God?

It seems the “feel-good angelmania” of the mid-nineties is wearing off—or at least the optimism surrounding angelic hope as connected to God. The movie Legion depicts a God who “is simply sick of us and he’s going to show his displeasure not by water or the fire next time, but instead by angels—lots and lots … Continue reading