Quote of the day

From the ever eloquent CVH:

When politics, right, left or centrist, starts to permeate art of any form, it’s time to read, listen or look at something else. It’s hard enough (as numerous discussions on this blog indicate) to encourage good art in a narcissistic, culturally-entrenched, economically-challenged genre of music like southern gospel. Subverting art in such a blatant manner reveals the utter lack of understanding on the part of the writers and performers of what art is meant to be and do.

Read the whole thing. I’m not sure I’m convinced by the suggestion here that good art should or has to be apolitical. Apolitical art is like objective journalism. It’s just not possible. Subtle art (and fair reporting)? Absolutely. But all artistic expressions have a set of politics deeply embedded in them whether the artist “intends” it or not, and that’s as it should be. It’s part of what good art does, it seems to me - provoke thought and feeling (including the political, broadly considered) without predetermining conclusions.

What I do entirely agree with is CVH’s point about blatantly saturating songs with heavyhanded political declarations. It’s a sure sign of artistically impoverished vision when performers start turning their music into the sound track for a political rally. This is what always bugged me about the Steeles (though they’re the only example that springs most readily to mind and not the only offenders, by any means … the Pfiefers, often the Inspirations … there are others). You could tell they wanted to be hailed as ideological heroes for “daring” to say from the stage what a clear majority of their fans probably already thought and felt anyway. But that’s not politically courageous. It’s just self-serving buffoonery, the last resort of the artistically desperate.

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  1. Felicia wrote:

    A quote I read recently:

    “I’m beginning to see that there’s a difference between art that trusts beauty’s simple power to point people to God and overt-Christian art that’s consciously propagandistic.”

    I’m not sure who the author is, but I like what they’re saying.

  2. Trent wrote:

    “Self-serving bufoonery”? C’mon, Avery. You are doing the exact same thing all these “bufoons” are doing when you slam them for being so far on the right lyrically. Can’t you see it? You are using the stage of this website to sing (write) about how conservativism = close-mindedness and narrow focus.

  3. RF wrote:

    I always thought of Christ as the perfect liberal. You know, love your rneighboras yourself. Forgive someone oh so many times. All that.

    Of course the wrath of God is always more popular, especially if you don’t agree with the one you think should get the wrath…

  4. Jim E. Davis wrote:

    What is really being poked at here is not necessarily the Nelons or the Steeles. It’s the fans. They are the narrow-minded uneducated idiots who put these songs on the charts.

  5. JW wrote:

    “narrow-minded uneducated idiots”

    “self-serving buffoonery”

    Pots, meet the kettles.

    While I don’t care for the sometimes simplistic manipulation from the right, I’m not so sure I want to trade it in for the pseudo elitism I’ve read in the post and some comments here.

    “Of course the wrath of God is always more popular, especially if you don’t agree with the one you think should get the wrath… ”

    Sounds like it’s pretty popular on your side, too.

    Eh, I know I’m not near as eloquent as some here, but my simplistic solution is just to listen to something else if it bothers me that much.

  6. CVH wrote:

    JW’s concern about my (and other’s)apparent “pseudo elitism” is interesting for several reasons.

    First, I don’t think that caring about art or seeking to understand it is an elitist characteristic. I’m willing to be corrected, but my concern about the politicization of southern gospel music has more to do with my objection to mixing the gospel with political viewpoints (of any stripe) than it does with a condescending view toward conservatism specifically.

    JW mentions the “simplistic manipulation from the right”. When southern gospel music is politicized, it is almost always
    from a conservative view, which is understandable. Other genres of music are also subject to being politicized though usually from the left. Again, no surprise. My point, which I stand by and which I think was reasonably coherent despite having been written before my first cup of coffee that morning, is that while manipulation can come from any “side” what I object to is the shallowness of selling out one’s religious art for a temporal purpose.

    It’s one thing to write about issues from a Christian worldview and quite another to invoke the name of Christ or scriptural references out of context just to drive home a point that may be more political than spiritual.

    The gospel exists in each one of us in a given cultural context and we cannot disassociate ourselves from that in our expressions of faith. My concern is that too often a timeless message that transcends culture, gender and certainly political viewpoints, one that can bring eternal redemption to the human heart, is reduced to a cheap metaphor to accomplish a political goal. That’s not being elitist, that’s simply common sense.

  7. Leebob wrote:

    Closed-mindedness? Narrow? Isn’t it interesting how we throw these terms around and apply it only to more “conservative” people.

    Christian music for example….years ago the closed mined Christians were the ones who would not allow CCM and P&W into their church. Now, coming full circle, many of these narrow minded churches will only allow CCM and P&W into their churches and will have nothing to do with SG.

    Narrow-mindedness is a matter of perspective. I for one do not have a worry of our schools teaching about evolution. Our schools on the other hand are so narrow-minded they are fearful of having creationism taught. I guess, from my perspective, that would make the schools narrow-minded.

    For years the left has been allowed to propagandize through television, music, and theatre their philsophies to almost the near exclusion of any conservative thinking. If a writer desires to show his political colors with one song, I hardly view them as being narrow-minded. “Under God” by the Booth Brothers was even played on country stations providing some of the cross-genre that everybody so desires.

    Whatever your position on this subject is up to you, but to stoop to calling our fans “bufoons”, “close-minded”, or “narrow-focused is simply mean spirited in the worst sense. Perhaps it is the “liberal” that is close-minded in regards to the Gospel.

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