Body Piercing Saved My Life

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


If you remember “supafly, straight-edge” Matt from The Real World: New Orleans, you’ll recognize the type—the kid with the spiked hair and skateboard who says he lives for music, but doesn’t swear or drink and wears a “Crunk for Christ” T-shirt. This seemingly oxymoronic “mohawked fundamentalist” is at the heart of music journalist Andrew Beaujon’s sympathetic foray into the booming Christian rock scene. Is Christian music, he asks, with its embrace of secular aesthetics and simultaneous rejection of sex, drugs, and antiauthoritarianism, nothing but an empty shell? Or more to the point, what’s up with Jesus death metal?

Beaujon dives into this parallel universe, talking with bands that never make the Top 40 yet have hundreds of thousands of fans (the majority of Christian music is consumed in New York and L.A.). We meet a “hip and holy” mega-church pastor with sideburns, his own record label, and a penchant for singing to his miniskirted female congregants about celibacy and their subservience to men. Then there’s the reflective lead singer of, um, crossover band Pedro the Lion, whose angsty songs, filled with what Beaujon calls the “gospel of doubt,” reveal that God rock can be as full of longing, anger, and postadolescent ambivalence as its worldly twin. “Music is the public square of evangelical Christianity,” Beaujon writes, “a place where all these visions of Christ get a hearing.”

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate