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Wars and Bridges
Josh McDowell, Michael Anderson, and those pesky statues
This issue is the largest issue they had up to this point; 158 pages (I definitely did not scan in the whole thing)! There is the cover story with Mark Lowry, lots of smaller artist interviews, an article with Josh McDowell, and a whole section devoted to talking about fame and celebrity.
This month in history
In May 1996, the Howard Stern Radio Show premiered, the movie Twister came out, Excel Communications, Inc. became the youngest company ever to join the New York Stock Exchange (my dad was a salesmen for them for awhile), You're Makin' Me High" single was released by Toni Braxton which would go on to with the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, The Trappist Martyrs of Atlas were executed (the story eventually being told in the movie Of Gods and Men), and Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos got married.
From the Editor
“It’s easy to forget in the midst of modern American lifestyles, that life, especially life as a Christian, is war. Apathy reigns supreme as the comforts of this world lull us into a lukewarm faith. We either absorb the tastes of our culture and succumb to them or we withdraw entirely, abandoning the call to be salt and light.”
I’m curious how exactly you measure apathy - to me it seems like a convenient trope to trot out when you want to fire people up, and artists complain a lot about apathetic people in their interviews. But, as Chuck Klosterman describes it in his fun book on the 90s, it was a time of “self-constructed, self-aware apathy.”
But the idea of war - the constant double-speak about denying that they are involved in a culture war is so frustrating. “Is the Bible true and relevant,” as an example of an internal spiritual war is *also* obviously an external war against the culture and politics. This can be seen in the Josh McDowell article:
Right from Wrong and Why Wait are not internal battles!
In nice timing, Mark Lowry on Bonnie Raitt:
This artist interview is with singer and songwriter Michael Anderson. He was, and is, a fairly successful artist, becoming a staff writer for EMI and BMG Music Publishing. His professional biography describes him as “a hit songwriter, artist, producer, and author,” his songs have been featured on American Idol and The Voice, and in 1996 he won a Dove Award for the song “Promise Man” by Holy Soldier.
In the interview he says:
“To me, Christianity and real Bible faith is bloody. It’s hard, and it’s work, and it’s warfare with the world.”
Which obviously contradicts the idea that the war is just some internal thing. The artists seem to be much more upfront about the work that their music is doing, especially when it comes to the culture wars.
But what I find *especially* interesting about this article, is a mention at the bottom of the first paragraph, and the inset on the second page.
Robert E. Lee! Heroic Confederate soldiers!! How do sympathies like these influence the songs one writes and how do they influence the artists themselves?
Beliefs like this - an admiration for Robert E. Lee and Confederate soldiers - is not disqualifying in this industry. And no one distances themselves from people who hold explicitly racist views, even though they do distance themselves from abortion clinic bombers. (This is also an excellent reason for taking down all of these statues, holy cow.) When we think about why on earth the CCM industry is so white - with attitudes like this, by people who are embedded in it……gee whiz, it’s so hard to figure out. The fact that the magazine didn’t mind printing this either……editorial decisions were definitely made.
At the end of every issue is a column by John Fischer - sometimes the discrepancy between the middle and the ends of the magazine are just really something. Josh McDowell and Michael Anderson help explain why it is that “Christians appear to be at war with society.”
a look at the top charts...
An ending video…
Michael Anderson also wrote “Go and Sin No More” for Rebecca St. James, which also came out in 1996.
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