web site hit counter The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ’n’ Roll - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ’n’ Roll

Availability: Ready to download

When rock ’n’ roll emerged in the 1950s, ministers denounced it from their pulpits and Sunday school teachers warned of the music’s demonic origins. The big beat, said Billy Graham, was “ever working in the world for evil.” Yet by the early 2000s Christian rock had become a billion-dollar industry. The Devil’s Music tells the story of this transformation. Rock’s origins lie When rock ’n’ roll emerged in the 1950s, ministers denounced it from their pulpits and Sunday school teachers warned of the music’s demonic origins. The big beat, said Billy Graham, was “ever working in the world for evil.” Yet by the early 2000s Christian rock had become a billion-dollar industry. The Devil’s Music tells the story of this transformation. Rock’s origins lie in part with the energetic Southern Pentecostal churches where Elvis, Little Richard, James Brown, and other pioneers of the genre worshipped as children. Randall J. Stephens shows that the music, styles, and ideas of tongue-speaking churches powerfully influenced these early performers. As rock ’n’ roll’s popularity grew, white preachers tried to distance their flock from this “blasphemous jungle music,” with little success. By the 1960s, Christian leaders feared the Beatles really were more popular than Jesus, as John Lennon claimed. Stephens argues that in the early days of rock ’n’ roll, faith served as a vehicle for whites’ racial fears. A decade later, evangelical Christians were at odds with the counterculture and the antiwar movement. By associating the music of blacks and hippies with godlessness, believers used their faith to justify racism and conservative politics. But in a reversal of strategy in the early 1970s, the same evangelicals embraced Christian rock as a way to express Jesus’s message within their own religious community and project it into a secular world. In Stephens’s compelling narrative, the result was a powerful fusion of conservatism and popular culture whose effects are still felt today.


Compare

When rock ’n’ roll emerged in the 1950s, ministers denounced it from their pulpits and Sunday school teachers warned of the music’s demonic origins. The big beat, said Billy Graham, was “ever working in the world for evil.” Yet by the early 2000s Christian rock had become a billion-dollar industry. The Devil’s Music tells the story of this transformation. Rock’s origins lie When rock ’n’ roll emerged in the 1950s, ministers denounced it from their pulpits and Sunday school teachers warned of the music’s demonic origins. The big beat, said Billy Graham, was “ever working in the world for evil.” Yet by the early 2000s Christian rock had become a billion-dollar industry. The Devil’s Music tells the story of this transformation. Rock’s origins lie in part with the energetic Southern Pentecostal churches where Elvis, Little Richard, James Brown, and other pioneers of the genre worshipped as children. Randall J. Stephens shows that the music, styles, and ideas of tongue-speaking churches powerfully influenced these early performers. As rock ’n’ roll’s popularity grew, white preachers tried to distance their flock from this “blasphemous jungle music,” with little success. By the 1960s, Christian leaders feared the Beatles really were more popular than Jesus, as John Lennon claimed. Stephens argues that in the early days of rock ’n’ roll, faith served as a vehicle for whites’ racial fears. A decade later, evangelical Christians were at odds with the counterculture and the antiwar movement. By associating the music of blacks and hippies with godlessness, believers used their faith to justify racism and conservative politics. But in a reversal of strategy in the early 1970s, the same evangelicals embraced Christian rock as a way to express Jesus’s message within their own religious community and project it into a secular world. In Stephens’s compelling narrative, the result was a powerful fusion of conservatism and popular culture whose effects are still felt today.

30 review for The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ’n’ Roll

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alex Stroshine

    A personal rating of 3.5/5, but overall 4/5. Christian rock is ubiquitous with conservative Protestantism and even has fans among Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers (one of my favourite alternative Christian rock bands, Luxury, is currently comprised of three-fifths Eastern Orthodox priests). But Christians did not always embrace rock music and Randall J. Stephens' new book traces how Christians went from virulently rejecting rock to making contemporary Christian music a billion dolla A personal rating of 3.5/5, but overall 4/5. Christian rock is ubiquitous with conservative Protestantism and even has fans among Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers (one of my favourite alternative Christian rock bands, Luxury, is currently comprised of three-fifths Eastern Orthodox priests). But Christians did not always embrace rock music and Randall J. Stephens' new book traces how Christians went from virulently rejecting rock to making contemporary Christian music a billion dollar industry. There are five chapters (with meticulous endnotes at the back!). In the first chapter, Stephens explores how rock'n'roll emerged out of pentecostal roots (many of the earliest rock stars, such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, grew up in pentecostal settings). The second chapter investigates the intersection of race, religion, and rock; in a blatant display of bigotry, many conservative critics of rock accused it of being associated with the "jungle music" of Africa. Additionally, many critics were concerned that rock music was making delinquents out of its young listeners. The third chapter focuses primarily on the Beatles (they of "We're more popular than Jesus" infamy). The last two chapters then chronicle the emergence of the Christian rock industry and the softening of conservative Christians' stance towards Christian rock. Whereas before fundamentalists feverishly criticized the fusion of Christianity and rock, as the decades wore on their opposition became more tepid. I give "The Devil's Music" a 3.5/5 personal rating because I'm familiar with a lot of the content already. I know other historians also argue for rock'n'roll's religious roots but Stephens does a brilliant job in teasing this out. I love Christian pop culture and its history and so I was a bit disappointed that only about two-fifths of the book dealt with that (and even then, it reads like a cursory flyover; I would have liked more details). Stephens, following others such as Larry Eskridge, highlights the important role the Jesus People played in pioneering Christian rock and promulgating it among their fellow conservative believers (he also astutely points out that nondenominational churches also helped spread contemporary Christian music). Besides Billy Graham early in his evangelistic career, most of the critics Stephens features would be considered fundamentalists (Billy James Hargis, David A. Noebel, etc...) as opposed to the neo-evangelicals that emerged mid-century in places like Fuller Theological Seminary and on the pages of 'Christianity Today.'

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Extremely through and entertaining. I loved all the screenshot photos by the author that were included. As someone who came of age at the tail end of the great fears about rock among Christians, so much in this book explained my youth and childhood. Stephens is a historian of American Christianity but the detail about popular music is incredible.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Monica Mitri

    In "The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock and Roll," historian Randall Stephens traces the stormy relationship between American Christianity and rock’n’roll music, from its stormy beginnings to the genre of Christian rock that still remains tinged with suspicion. He argues that this shift in the relationship occurred as Christians faced an increasing alienation in American society and sought cultural relevance. The pillars of Stephens’s argument are Christianit In "The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock and Roll," historian Randall Stephens traces the stormy relationship between American Christianity and rock’n’roll music, from its stormy beginnings to the genre of Christian rock that still remains tinged with suspicion. He argues that this shift in the relationship occurred as Christians faced an increasing alienation in American society and sought cultural relevance. The pillars of Stephens’s argument are Christianity, rock music, and pop culture. His chapters sequentially trace the controversial genealogy of rock music from Pentecostal music, the various churches’ hostile reactions, the complex relationship of numerous rock artists until its gradual Christian reception and the rise of Christian rock. Studying this shift in American Christianity’s relationship with rock music, Stephens claims that it reflected Christians’ engagement and struggle with “race, gender, the limits of freedom of expression, music and decorum, and much more" (6). I read his argument as centered around the theme of boundaries: between the religious and secular, Black and White, young and old, evangelicals and fundamentalists, and words and music. Stephens’s argument examines the construction, fragility and crossover of these boundaries through rock music. In other words, he argues that rock enabled the articulation of boundaries across these divides, even as it expressed their porosity and provided the means to circumvent them. From the start, the intertwined relationship between rock and Christian music, especially gospel music which rock artists often fondly recalled, only made boundary-marking harder between the two genres. For this reason, teens’ attraction to rock only exacerbated the fears of older generations, both Black and White. Elder generations condemned rock’s explicit sexual nature, loose morals, interracial mixing, gender confusion and propensity to encourage violence. Thus, starting in the mid-twentieth century, Pentecostal, evangelical and fundamentalist churches endeavored to preserve the religious spaces and beliefs, and the racial identities that had become firmly entrenched in American life. These boundary marking attempts were complicated by the Christian youth in their churches, and also by the media and rock artists themselves who claimed continuities and direct influence between their music and rock. Racially, rock artists and audiences cross[ed] the musical color line. Elvis openly drew upon Black gospel music for inspiration and was said to sing “like a Negro” (70). Rock concerts were not racially segregated. Radios only exacerbated the problem, for now rock was inside Christian homes and there is “no way to segregate the airwaves” (98). All this increased Christians’ fear of rock as an abomination. As “wild” and “savage” music of African origin, Whites feared it would contaminate their youth and moral standards. Blacks feared it would sully the reputation of God-fearing Black churches and gospel music. At the same time, this racial boundary crossover was enthusiastically hailed by integrationists. Rock was speedily challenging American racial identities and boundaries, and this was occurring in tandem with the civil rights movement and the White Southern backlash against Brown vs. Board of Education. Thus, the ensuing “anti-rock-’n’-roll hysteria gripping the nation, and especially the South, had a distinct racist tinge” (69). At first, Christians strongly resisted this onslaught of rock music onto the American landscape and among their young people. It is important to note Stephens’s words that, “the line separating godly and worldly music had long been a thin one. Sometimes there was no line at all” (60). Rock music was the dangerous, proximate other, and Christians responded with various fierce strategies of resistance. There was missionary rhetoric of martyrdom, and of the demonic and sinful nature of rock music. Teens’ attraction to rock reflected their lax upbringing, led to juvenile delinquency, “immoral” dancing at rock-n-roll concerts, quasi-religious manias, and ultimately “frivolous nonsense … [with which they] filled youngsters’ minds” (120). More aggressive strategies included militant language, bans, and record burnings as well as defaming singers’ religious views, profane music and dandified appearance. Boundaries would become porous in some circles and remain rigid in others, as signified by rise of Christian rock among conservative evangelicals in the 1970s. Again, rock would provide the cultural means to negotiate and blur racial and secular boundaries, like fashion, music, and desegregation. This was aided by theological arguments that reinvented rock as a tool for winning souls. On the fundamentalist side, however, most would not make their peace with rock; it would remain the devil’s music. An explicit separation between the believer and the world was what marked a Christian fundamentalist, claimed the Baptist Falwell in the 1980s. As for rock artists themselves, like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee, they often crossed the boundary between religious and secular, and back again. More than either evangelicals or fundamentalists, rock artists demonstrated and embodied the tensions at the fuzzy line between religious and secular, and between Black and White. Another boundary Stephens discusses that of words and music. Is this boundary permeable? In other words, can Christian lyrics redeem rock music? With this question, Stephens contrasts the developing evangelical view with the stricter fundamentalist one, and pinpoints one point of crossover from refusal to acceptance. As conservative evangelicals began to realize that rock was here to stay, and that their youth remained enthralled by it, they adapted their own approach to it. Jesus rock began to develop and by the 1970s, Jesus people were singing of a personal Savior, the coming apocalypse and the gifts of the Spirit. On the other hand, fundamentalists remained insistent that rock could not be redeemed by Christian lyrics, nor could the words of Jesus be set to music that is inherently sinful, sexual and demonic. Ultimately, Stephens argues that rock music rocked the boundaries that shaped American life in the mid-twentieth century and contributed substantially to reshaping them. Rock was a critical element in the political, spiritual and cultural changes sweeping across the American landscape. Its trajectory also embodied Christians’ attitudes about remaining culturally relevant. As it did so, rock changed the face of American Christianity. Overall, I appreciated Stephens’s argument and the extent and sources of his data. His topic and storytelling style open the book to a wide readership beyond academia. On the other hand, the length of his chapters makes them tedious, and the extent of details, names and events can disorient the reader. Although one can read his book as structured about the theme of boundaries, he does not explicitly state it or provide an explanation of the framework by which he approaches his material. More concise chapters, with a clearer framework and more articulate arguments, would have increased the book’s appeal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Jones

    This book did a really nice job of showing some of the extreme reactions of the church to rock music. The focus on fundamentalists really shapes this narrative. That said, I didn't find that particularly revelatory. It documents what you might call a known story. However, there are plenty of snippets of research that give the 20th century some intriguing character. It's not the typical "progressive rise" narrative and shows how contested things like the popularity of Elvis or the Beatles really This book did a really nice job of showing some of the extreme reactions of the church to rock music. The focus on fundamentalists really shapes this narrative. That said, I didn't find that particularly revelatory. It documents what you might call a known story. However, there are plenty of snippets of research that give the 20th century some intriguing character. It's not the typical "progressive rise" narrative and shows how contested things like the popularity of Elvis or the Beatles really were. I would have liked to see more of the mainstream acceptance of rock even from Christians. The final section on the CCM movement is really interesting, but it seems hard to believe given the generation that preceded it. Are there any voices that could help us better understand why late 20th century CCM worked despite the harsh critical perspective of their parents? Overall, though, I liked the book and learned a great deal from it. I would use it in a US cultural history class and certainly a nice book for an American Religious history class, especially to excerpt.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is not the book I thought it was - I was expecting a book about Christian Rock (mostly because I found out about the from a separate article on the history of Christian Rock) - it's really a book about the Christian reaction to Rock. Christian Rock comprises a fraction of the book. For what it is, the book was OK. The research is impressive, and informative. It notes how rock and roll really had its roots in Southern Pentecostalism, with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, J This is not the book I thought it was - I was expecting a book about Christian Rock (mostly because I found out about the from a separate article on the history of Christian Rock) - it's really a book about the Christian reaction to Rock. Christian Rock comprises a fraction of the book. For what it is, the book was OK. The research is impressive, and informative. It notes how rock and roll really had its roots in Southern Pentecostalism, with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown all having been influenced by the church. I'd always heard about artists like Ray Charles borrowing from gospel, but seeing a list of all these artists in succession really drives home the point that the church sort of birthed rock and roll. Also very interesting was the compelling point that the church's condemnation of rock was wrapped up in concern against racial mixing. Over and over, the book presents quotes of Christian leaders warning that rock music would lead to racial integration. The repeated quotes warning against "jungle" music also make clear the racist undertones of the criticisms. For me, however, the book is both too broad and not broad enough. Rock is a massive topic that the book tries to tackle - how it came about and its effect not just on Christian culture but the culture at large. At times I felt like the immediate subject got lost because of that. And this may be partly because of my expectations, but the discussion of Christian rock itself was not particularly deep, mostly lists of groups in different genres. I also found the book somewhat repetitive - it would make the exact same points, with the exact same examples, within even the same chapter.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    Although fairly dry, a good read showing the pentecostal roots of rock, the secularization, the overall christian rejection and fear of rock (rooted in racist, classist, and elitist ways of thinking), and then the eventual surrender to rock which birthed christian rock and its plethora of subgenres. Ends with a review of current christian music record sales in an attempt to show that Christians in America are anything but persecuted. Recommended to anyone interested in music history of the past c Although fairly dry, a good read showing the pentecostal roots of rock, the secularization, the overall christian rejection and fear of rock (rooted in racist, classist, and elitist ways of thinking), and then the eventual surrender to rock which birthed christian rock and its plethora of subgenres. Ends with a review of current christian music record sales in an attempt to show that Christians in America are anything but persecuted. Recommended to anyone interested in music history of the past century, or interested in social justice and civil rights issues.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Donovan Potts

    A fascinating look at how American Christianity, in all of its many flavors, and a specific part of American culture intertwined. Well researched and written, this book keeps a clear focus on the premise but still gives a broad picture of varying denominational reactions to rock music. I would recommend it to anyone interested in studying how Christians interact and engage with popular culture, and how that interaction does, or sometimes does not, change with the passage of time.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Denise Huff

    Interesting, well-researched history of American music and its interaction with the American church. Having grown up in the 70's and 80's, I saw the shift with my own eyes, and it was eye-opening to learn the full story. I sat in many of those fundamentalist lectures referenced in the book, so it was intriguing to read about them now from the other side. Interesting, well-researched history of American music and its interaction with the American church. Having grown up in the 70's and 80's, I saw the shift with my own eyes, and it was eye-opening to learn the full story. I sat in many of those fundamentalist lectures referenced in the book, so it was intriguing to read about them now from the other side.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Martin

    Nice history of Christianity's fraught relationship with rock 'n' roll. Nice history of Christianity's fraught relationship with rock 'n' roll.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Greg Soden

    I loved this book. Deep and incredible archival research. This is some hard work for the field of music and religious history. Well done. Highly recommended. Check out my interview with the author: https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=561826... I loved this book. Deep and incredible archival research. This is some hard work for the field of music and religious history. Well done. Highly recommended. Check out my interview with the author: https://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=561826...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katie Kinney

  12. 4 out of 5

    Larry Eskridge

  13. 5 out of 5

    Trey Weller

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  15. 4 out of 5

    Damien

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris Estey

  18. 5 out of 5

    Josh Wilhelm

  19. 4 out of 5

    Teemu Taira

  20. 4 out of 5

    Austin Steelman

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charles Lyons

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Oxley

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kierkegaard's Pancakes

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eric Miller

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Jerviss

  27. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine Hutchins

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steve Ray

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Krommendyk

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.