Southern Gospel Sissies
Whenever I publish an academic essay, I always make a point to send copies to whomever I thank in the footnotes, and since the readers of this site are (genuinely) cited as a source of inspiration and provocation for the most recent academic article I’ve published, it seems only right and fair to pass along a copy here.
The article is my an honest attempt to take account of a complicated and fraught issue. Money quote (part of it may sound familiar to regular readers):
At its most affecting, then, white gospel music exceeds the limits of orthodox culture to control what it means or to put limits on the reach of the psychospiritual work it accomplishes.
Taken together … the evidence from beneath the pious surface of evangelical life—behind the gospel-music stage, from the back of the bus, beyond the reach of the footlights—tells an alternative story about southern gospel music and its cultural function that doesn’t (yet) definitively disrupt orthodox power structures or discredit orthodox accounts of the music’s purpose, but complicates them considerably in ways that call to mind Hubbs’ observation about “music’s function as a redeemer—or regulator—of twentieth-century homosexuals” (2004, p. 4). Indeed, rightly understood, the history of southern gospel might well be described as the record of misfits, outcasts, non-conformists, and strugglers searching for, hearing, finding, or longing after the right key in which the soul can sing.
If you are easily offended, angered, or otherwise upset by this snippet in particular or by discussions of Christianity and sexuality in general that stray from orthodox doctrine, I would recommend you avoid this article. Seriously. Just let it go right by. No pressure or hard-sell.
This is not some lame attempt at reverse psychology or a smart-aleck way of trying to drive traffic toward my work. I’d prefer more rather than fewer people read it, but I’d also like the conversation about the article to be as constructive as possible (not least of all: I’ll be revising and expanding this piece in the near future and would appreciate feedback that would help sharpen my thinking). For that to happen, people don’t have to agree with me, but they do have to want to read the article on its own (and not strictly their) terms.Email this Post