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Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock Paperback – May 9, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to Beaujon, contributing writer for Spin, sales of Christian music totaled 47 million albums in 2003— outselling jazz, classical music and New Age combined, with sales climbing 10% each year for the past five years. Beaujon came up with the title of his book from a T-shirt he saw at the Cornerstone Christian music festival depicting Jesus's hands with holes in them. In addition to promoting fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, such messages, Beaujon explains, delivered in either folky ballad lilts or throat-wrenching Steven Tyleresque heavy metal screams, are strongly antiabortion ("stop killing my generation"), staunchly conservative (70% of Christian rockers and their fans are Republicans) and provirginity ("dating is prostitution"). Beaujon developed the book from a series of pieces written for Spin and, consequently, the text reads like pithy, onsite, you-are-there set pieces. In "Black and White in a Gray World," he profiles a day in the life of youthful prolife Christian rockers who tout their anticontraception, antiabortion and anti–stem cell research messages through prolife rock music. Many of Beaujon's musical references may be obscure to those over 25, but his insider view of the ideologically passionate world of Christian rock is compelling. Beaujon—an agnostic—reports well but passes no judgment. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Beaujon's odyssey takes him from the Midwestern and Southern roots of Christian music to its place in and around the fringes of Seattle's independent music industry. His analysis is a blend of the eclectic history of the Christian rock culture (where else would you find out that early star Martha Stevens came out as a lesbian and got written out of the official histories?), the current music scene, and interviews with Christian rock lifers: individuals whose work has fundamentally shaped the movement and industry. His portraits of the rebels, notably David Bazan of Pedro the Lion, and Tooth and Nail's producer Brandon Ebel, are particularly engaging and compelling. Equally interesting are the insights that the author, a self-confessed agnostic, offers about evangelical Christian culture and what it represents about American life.–Sallie Barringer, Walnut Hills High School, Cincinnati, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814570
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,712,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jessica Lux on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Christian rock is such a love/hate topic. Bands either embrace the label, reject it outright, or try to toe a line. Fans, writers, and magazines try not to get branded with the Christian rock kiss of death, even if they respect the genre as a whole. As a reviewer, I think my personal beliefs are going to come into play, so here they are: I'm a huge rock fan, a religious person, and I would never touch anything on a Christian record label with a ten foot pole.

Beaujon has made an important academic contribution to the study of the genre of Christian rock. I took a lot away from his book--U2's significant religious message and sentiment, the evolution of bands like P.O.D. who successfully crossed into mainstream rock respect, the roots of evangelical and worship music as a response to the hippie movement, and more. Beaujon references dozens of other books and magazines, and I'm very interested in picking up Doug Van Pelt's Rock Stars on God interview collection after reading Beaujon's comments about it.

One featured researcher/speaker , David Dark, theorizes that if God shaped everything in the Universe, then it is probably blasphemous to think that there is such as thing as a secular molecule anywhere. That is, Christians should engage in popular culture, and analyze it for messages as needed. Personally, I found this to be the highlight of the book--here is a Christian leader with a message that everything should be evaluated at face value, and there is no need for a secluded genre. Our author, however, dismissed the speaker with a comment that he "left the room wondering whether I'd just driven 750 miles to hear Christian kids get the okay to listen to Eminem.
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i have to admit firstly that i wasn't sure i would like this book. i chose to read it for a look at a genre i was prejudiced against, hoping that it might change my mind one way or another.

it turned out to be much better than i expected. the whole book is not just about christian rock, but about the people who make it, and what effect their christianity has on their lives. beaujon has a wonderful journalistic style, not one you would expect from the pages of spin magazine, but something you would expect to find hidden in the pages of rolling stone magazine or in the editorial section of the big takeover.

amazingly, it made me want to go out and listen to some christian rock, a genre that i have tried to avoid like the plague for the last several years.

a wonderful book.
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As a Christian who has refused to disengage my brain in order to embrace religion, I am encouraged that an agnostic writer would be willing to tackle the wooly subject of Christian rock and roll. Is such music the real deal? Is it all about money? Is it even necessary?

Beaujon approaches his subject with honesty, insight, and not even a smidgen of mean-spiritedness. He admits that the secular media has some biases toward this sector of music, but he himself explores the fringes and the heart of the matter with eyes open and intellect intact. "Body Piercing Saved My Life" is an admirable job of reporting, on any level. Not only does the author take us through the history of modern Christian music, he explores the trends and theologies that infiltrate it. He pulls no punches, showing the frustrations of those within the industry--regarding lifestyles, business practices, and censorship--but he also demonstrates the rare willingness of an outsider to enjoy and even be moved by the music. Admittedly, these moments of enjoyment come infrequently for him (for understandable reasons).

I was one of those church kids, back in the eighties, who loved rock music and wanted to be "with it." With parents who were pastors, this meant I had to rummage through the garbage pile of Christian music and hope to find gold flakes (no double meaning intended) in the stream of heavenly wannnabes. Of course, as the years passed, I realized that life could not be compartmentalized into simple boxes--despite the attempts of many preachers to do so. Although I've still managed to hold onto a belief in a relationship with Jesus, I've been discouraged by the industry's attempts to cover up scandals and to placate the masses with mediocre "worship" music.
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I'll have to admit, as a disaffected fan of CCM I was more than eager to read this book. I have long been disenchanted with the music scene that Andrew Beaujon explores. In fact, I doubt that I would have been able to write such a book without a breakdown to subjectivity. Perhaps that is why Beaujon is able to write so fairly and honestly. Rather than having an axe to grind, the author writes mainly to answer his own questions. And the results make for an interesting commentary on a unique aspect of American culture.

This book is not meant to be a history of Christian rock, nor is it exhaustive in detail. That allows Beaujon to do what he does so well: focus on personalities. If you are already an insider to this scene many of these names will be familiar to you. Steve Taylor, Doug Van Pelt, and Brandon Ebel are among a few of the subjects that the author explores. Beaujon doesn't dwell on the "who did what" of the story. Instead, he digs beneath the surface in order to figure out why these people have created an alternative universe for their art. When Beaujon trudges from festival to festival it is hard not to be somewhat amused as he sadistically forces himself to listen to mediocre rock bands in order to wait for interviews that never come. Indeed, his own frustrations often come out in the book as industry insiders are protective of their closed community. Considering the circumstances, I think he has done well.

Personally I didn't care for how Beaujon interrupted the flow of his narrative by mixing transcribed interviews in with his more conventional chapters.
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