NQC 10: A Few previously self-censored words about the Piety Police
The other day James Fallows noted that “Usually you regret the harsh things you say more than the harsh things you decide not to say. At least, that’s how it usually turns out for me.” And that’s true for me too.
But, also like Fallows, it’s my experience that sometimes there are times when you regret not having said things that you initially talk yourself out of for fear of being or seeming too harsh. Which brings me to the topic at hand.
I have no way of knowing if this commenter is accurate suggesting there is widespread discussion already at NQC about the fauxasco being whipped up about the Dony and Reba Rambo McGuire appearance at the 100 Years of SG showcase later this week (if you’re just joining us, you can catch up on things here).
But let me just say that if there is actually any serious conversation going on at any level about the propriety of the McGuires’ appearing on the showcase, I call bullshit. I don’t find the debate about the McGuires’ brand of Christianity to be terribly enlightening, insightful, or original, but it’s fair game. The notion, however, that self-appointed keepers of the one true version of southern gospel religion (good luck figuring out what that is) get to hold some kind of referendum on whether or not the McGuires should be excluded from NQC for their comparatively inclusive view of Christianity and sexuality is risible.
And no, this is not (just) about the gay thing. Just to take one of the more extreme examples from the other direction: I hated every nano-second that John Hagee and his musically maladroit family spent on the NQC mainstage and minced no words about saying so, or rejoicing when they stopped coming, not just because they couldn’t sing but because of his odious ideology masquerading as religion. But NQC has every right to invite him (and is justified in it, speaking purely from a bidness perspective, because we can rest assured that’s why he was there and that’s why he stopped being there) as they are for inviting the McGuires. And I’ll defend the NQC’s right to book Hagee just as strongly as I disapprove of him and his musical mediocrity.
My point is not that the McGuires are on par with Hagee (from what I can gather they’re “guilty” of nothing more than being insufficiently intolerant). Rather, it’s the willful hypocrisy involved in lavishing praise on a musical hack like Hagee because he has the “right” politics and theology, and then turning around and saying there’s no room at NQC for someone with impeccable southern gospel bonafides (whatever you think of her singing, which is in my experience neither as good as or as bad as most people say but is a far sight superior to the Hagees) because she dares to transgress the absolute prohibition against homosexuality in the fundamentalist world of sg.
Not everyone who appears on the NQC mainstage is a racist, an adulterer, a cheat, a flim-flam (wo)man, or otherwise personally and morally comprised, but enough have been and always will be to fill a generously proportioned rogue’s gallery out back of Freedom Hall in the horse stables, should someone choose to assemble such a group.
Personally, I go for the music, not the case studies in morality and right living. But you’d think that the Piety Police and others who expect sg artists to receive the Mickey Mouse Club seal of moral hygiene before letting them take the stage would focus on rooting out the kind of bad behavior that pretty much everyone can agree on before moving onto the far more controversial stuff like “is being nice to gay people such a bad thing that you should be disinvited from a NQC showcase?”
I don’t know the McGuires or much about their church, don’t know much about what transpired between Reba and her mother, and/but I assume that like the rest of us, they have their fair share of fallibility. But as far as I can tell, Reba Rambo McGuire’s only real sin in all this was to make a life for herself outside of gospel music and openly refuse to perpetuate the notion that she (and by extension, the Rambo name) is a bastion of orthodox fundamentalist piety. Put another way: when was the last time you saw or heard of someone non-marginal in the industry being publicly ostracized, cut off, or otherwise punished for either being gay or, as in this case, being insufficiently anti-gay?
That’s what I thought. Now, what does that tell you about the commitment to eradicating sodomy and the scourge of homushsexshulz in southern gospel?
To my mind, everybody would enjoy the music a lot more if we worried more about artists’ ability to sing their notes and play their instruments (or for that matter, play any instrument at all!) and a lot less about their sex lives, but if moral McCarthyism matters that much to you, casting the first stone starts at home. Meantime, please be quiet. The rest of us are trying to enjoy the show.Email this Post