It's a well-known piece of advice: If you don't want to argue, then don't bring up the topics of politics and religion. Steer the conversation into more neutral ground by sticking to less inflammatory subjects. Like family. Or pets. Or movies. Or music.
Unless, of course, the music you listen to is already tightly entwined with politics and religion, as is the case within much of contemporary Christian music—an industry rife with an uncomfortable tension that comes from blending art, faith, and commerce. It's a tension forged from fiery opinions and impassioned worldviews, and it's made church music something that divides just as much as it unifies.
It is this tension that lies at the heart of Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?, a compelling new documentary from filmmakers Heather Whinna and Vickie Hunter. Filmed mostly at the 2003 Cornerstone Christian music festival, this film—made by a couple of "unsaved outsiders"—is little more than a mishmash of interviews with Christian musicians, concertgoers, and rock critics, with some brief moments of live footage thrown in for flavor, but, by taking many differing viewpoints and tossing them into the blender of objectivity, Whinna and Hunter have created a fascinating, profound exploration of the purpose of art and the nature of the Christian subculture.
In an age in which documentary films are frequently criticized for their lack of impartiality, it's refreshing to see a movie that succeeds so well in not picking sides. This isn't a 90-minute commercial for the Christian music industry, nor is it a hateful attempt to tear the industry to shreds. The directors simply keep the tape rolling as their various interview subjects discuss what's wrong and what's ...1