Idol Chatter

Anybody who follows Christian music has probably heard the old saw from Christian bands: “if we cross over, we’re going to carry the cross over.” Really, though, when was the last time you heard a Christian pop band sing about the cross on, say, MTV? In fact, when the dust of 2007 cleared, there was an album called –“Cross” when you’re speaking–nestled snugly into album-of-the-year and single-of-the-year lists everywhere, but it wasn’t by a CCM artist. The band was a French dance-rock DJ act called Justice.

Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay perform as Justice in front of a giant wall of Marshall stack amplifiers emblazoned with a huge cross, list their genre on their MySpace page as “Christian/Club,” and named their album freakin’ †, all of which raises the dilemma of what the heck we’re supposed to do with a totally not-Christian band that wholeheartedly appropriates Christian symbols.
One thing’s for sure, the record really is infectious, fun, and celebratory. From “Genesis” and “Let There be Light,” to the unshakably compelling single-and-video-of-the-year “D.A.N.C.E.” to the super-distorted, super-danceable “Waters of Nazareth.” What’s with all the Christian language on an otherwise hedonistic party record? Well, here are four possible ways of looking at † (and I don’t mean theories of the atonement).
Pop satire: It’s patently absurd the way we put rock stars on pedestals, and Justice knows it. By setting themselves up as objects worthy of worship–totally not true if you’ve seen how scruffy and hung-over they always look, the duo pulls the rug out from under us before we can blab to our friends about the next saviors (eh?) of music. They’re just a couple of French dudes who made a good album. Get over it.
Christian pop satire: After 30+ years of Christian rock, we’re still not sure who we’re cheering for when the band takes the stage: is this about Jesus or awesome hooks? And is it possible that making it about Jesus and awesome hooks is just a little, I dunno, irreverent? †, with its absurd baptism of coked-out dance grooves, forces us to consider whether disposable–but catchy as hell–pop should be a vehicle for worship.
Music as religion: Probably the closest to the truth: raves, concerts and dance parties have functioned like a religion for years. Blogger Jack Oatmon described a Justice show this way:

“An altar on a raised platform, a luminous cross, a spacious hall with a grand ceiling, shuddering with the ominous wailing of classical organ and hundreds of devout worshipers, hollering in tongues as they consume cleansing wines and rejoice…”

Ambiguous: Yes, there’s a giant picture of a cross on the record, and some of the song titles come from the Bible–as is true of most of the best music–but it’s up to us what to make of † . To some people, it’s sure to be blasphemous, to others, a record like this may come close to expressing the kind of unadulterated joy we believe, ultimately, comes from God.
If you don’t like trashy Eurodance music using Christian symbols, stay away; in fact, as a “thinking Christian’s record,” † falls utterly flat. So if you’re into that, don’t burn the CD – but you’d have to be downright soulless not to download “D.A.N.C.E.” and do what it says.
–written by Joel Hartse

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