The mysteriously titled journal CCM is celebrating its twentieth year of publication, which began with a gala issue last summer. If those eponymous letters don't ring a bell, they stand for Contemporary Christian Music. That's right, this is the magazine that has become the Christian Billboard—or is it the Christian Rolling Stone? Or the Christian Entertainment Weekly? Or all those rolled into one?
Whatever it is, the magazine is produced by people whose musical tastes (unlike mine) prefer rock to Bach and whose theological predilections fit more comfortably in an evangelical context than in my own, more liberal, one. Still, I love this magazine, and this is how I explain the affection.
The somewhat strange universe of Christian rock offers a near-perfect laboratory for the analysis of issues arising out of the interrelationship of religion and culture—issues of vocation, of witness, of context, of medium and message. Every copy of CCM addresses such concerns, not from the privileged position of sophisticated academia but from the trenches of working-stiff Christianity. We witness the confessions, the arguments, the breakthroughs, and the recantations of persons who are utterly immersed in enacting the priesthood of all believers in this most worldly of contexts, who are struggling to embody what publisher John Styll likes to call "24/7 Christianity" (24 hours, 7 days a week). I know of no other arena in America where the artificial barrier between "sacred" and "secular" has been more effectively transgressed. Styll likes to quote Titus 1:15, "Everything is pure to those who are pure" (NLT).
This is Harvey Cox's "secular city." This is Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "religionless Christianity." It's here. It's been here, and some of ...1
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