- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 12, 2004

Singing salvation

“Contemporary Christian musicians and video makers who want to break out into the mainstream recognize that they cannot wear their religion on their sleeves. That usually means they must avoid explicit references to God and Jesus, and play down the message of salvation in favor of vague and indirect appeals to religious sentimentality and moral fortitude.

“Popular cross-over bands such as P.O.D. (Payable on Death), DC Talk, Sixpence None the Richer, and Jars of Clay have replaced the Strypers and Amy Grants of old, and their rising success is marked by their ability to reach a wider audience by ‘watering-down’ Christian elements in their songs while also appealing to young Christian consumers who are looking for competent musical alternatives to Metallica and Eminem that they won’t feel embarrassed to listen to. …

“For CCM artists and producers, watering-down the message is a marketing sacrifice, and in this sense can be frustrating. But they also rationalize it as a way to advance the gospel. …

“[W]hat some evangelicals view as excessive propaganda, others see as true ministry. Conversely, a process that evangelical purists view as mainstream Christian artists selling out, others see as reaching out to nonbelievers who otherwise would never pay attention to religiously inspired media.”

Omri Elisha, writing on “God is in the Retails,” Dec. 5 at www.therevealer.org

Campus regime

“Although conservatives complain loudly and often about liberal bias in the mass media, the truth is that one is far more likely to read a conservative perspective in the New York Times than hear it from a college professor. … At many universities, just finding a Republican anywhere on the faculty is problematic. …

“There are no Republicans in either the anthropology or sociology departments at Stanford or UC-Berkeley. At Berkeley, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 11 to 1 in the economics department and 14 to 1 in the political science department. …

“Students pay a heavy price for this state of affairs. In certain fields like political science, it is simply impossible to receive a good education unless exposed to conservative thought. Students are also not likely to receive an adequate appreciation or understanding of the conservative perspective if it is only taught by those hostile to it.”

Bruce Bartlett, writing on “Campus Bias,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

The stuff of heroes

“Lamenting the absence of heroes is endemic. It cuts across all the cultural categories. …

“The essence of real heroes in the good old days — Newton and Napoleon and Goethe — was that they were essentially unreal. They were not known as people. They were their works and deeds, their myths. They were fictional constructs, even in their own lifetimes, invented by the people who idolized them, on the basis of a few stories and images — so very few. …

“Real heroes of the past were represented with a frugality almost impossible to credit today; some texts committed to memory; some images known to everyone; places he stood, things he touched; most important of all, a store of anecdotes, circulating informally. …

“Anthropologists know the special power of such stories. They come alive with each retelling because they are subject to constant variation. … Unadulterated perfection and immediate relevance are guaranteed.”

Thomas de Zengotita, writing on “Attack of the SuperZeroes,” in the December issue of Harper’s

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