To the Christian music fans in Kansas City, Denver, and Jefferson City, Indiana, who are still waiting to watch the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards show: your wait is not almost over. You have at least two more weeks before the syndicated broadcast of the ceremonies, held two weeks ago in Nashville, makes it onto your local schedule.
Now here’s the good news for the faithful. The reason the Pony Express could get you the Dove Awards faster than modern technology is that the Christian music industry is becoming less relevant every day. That is, when Carrie Underwood is cleaning up mainstream awards for her tearjerking “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and Alan Jackson’s gospel collection, “Precious Memories” climbs to the fourth spot on the all-genres Billboard 200 chart (today it’s down to #10), it’s a sign of the end of Christian music and the beginning of music that happens to be written and played by Christians. Isn’t that what Christian musicians and their fans have wanted all along?
It seems that fatherhood has brought out a devotion in Brad Pitt that transcends just sharing the same faux-hawk haircut with his adopted son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt.
Hello! Magazine reports that the Hollywood hunk has gotten a Buddhist blessing tattooed on his lower back to honor Maddox. Written in Sanskrit, “the body art, a prayer of protection for the little boy, matches five black columns that [Maddox’s mother, Angelina Jolie] has etched on her shoulders,” the magazine reports.
Introduced to Buddhism while filming “Seven Years in Tibet,” Pitt was described as “not particularly spiritual” in a 1997 Time magazine cover story about the film and “America’s fascination with Buddhism.” In that same piece, he said that he’s “always paid attention to religion because I grew up in a religious background, but I’ve never felt a part of any of them.”
Perhaps this box-office superstar is just like many parents who turn, or return, to spirituality and faith when the kids arrive.
Several news outlets reported this weekend that Episcopal churches are piping in U2 music as part of their services–even their liturgy–in an effort to preach the message of ending global poverty.
“As the electric guitar in the U2 anthem ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’ faded from four speakers, the Rev. Robert Brooks welcomed worshippers to Grace Episcopal Church with an unusual suggestion,” said an AP story. “He warned them to protect their hearing. ‘If the sound’s an issue, we do have earplugs available,’ he said.”
The story went on to highlight how U2’s tunes are woven into the liturgy and how something called “guerilla marketing” was utilized weeks in advance to ensure high attendance. Members and visitors are able to take communion while listening to popular U2 anthems.
For churches to include the music of secular musicians is not a new thing; the Vineyard movement, seeker churches, and the growing number Emergent Church communities have long been among those that feature house bands playing popular and classic songs. But piping in music from one of the biggest bands in the world is a signal of what may become a new trend, as pastors and other church leaders realize they can leverage the music of name-brand musicians and bands to communicate their message to the faithful army of church-goers, making it easier for ministers, pastors, rectors, and priests to get it across themselves.
And for bands–or their business managers or labels–this may signal a new realization that churches can be an effective venue for reaching new listeners.
The huge success of the indie hit “Napoleon Dynamite”–the oddball story of a geeky Idaho teen and his friend Pedro–has brought actor Jon Heder, currently starring in the movie Benchwarmers, a slew of new comedic movie roles, along with a great deal of attention to his Mormon faith. I think it’s safe to say that no Mormon has gotten this sort of attention in Hollywood since perky blonde Julie Stoffer from “The Real World: New Orleans.” Heder was the focus of a recent USA Today article as well as a feature in this month’s issue of Premiere, and in both interviews, he discusses how his Mormon beliefs affect what roles he picks as well as how he speaks.
According to the Premiere article, Heder won’t take any film roles that involve swearing, violence, or excessive sexuality. Heck, that’s not exactly news, since even when he was totally punk’d by Ashton Kutcher and thought he was accidentally sent to a business meeting at a brothel, he didn’t use a flippin’ cuss word once. Still, the magazine interview makes a big deal out of Heder initially turning down his role in the upcoming flick “School for Scoundrels” because of the amount of profane language it had. (Supposedly, producer Harvey Weinstein had an affinty for the use of the “MF” word in the script.) Eventually, the script was re-written and his co-star, Billy Bob Thornton, supported Heder’s stance by commenting , “I think it’s kind of refreshing to see somebody who has values in the movie business.”
Despite such endorsements, Heder sounds like he is not completely comfortable with all of the attention on his religious beliefs and is a little concerned his squeaky-clean image will have Hollywood believing he is a long-lost Osmond brother. “It’s tough now, because am I like an ambassador (for Mormonism) now? I was representing the church on my mission (Mormons are required to go into the mission field for two years), and now I’m representing the church again in some ways,” Heder said in the USA Today profile.
You’re flippin right, you are, Jon. Gosh. But you’re also speaking up for some of the rest of your fans who don’t think all comedy needs to be raunchy and R-rated. S-a-a-w-e-e-t.