Christian Rock Thursdays: The Christian AC/DC

In 1994, there was a buzz about a new release on the Christian record label Benson Records. By “there was a buzz” I mean of course “the Christian music magazines were talking about it”, which is perhaps not quite the same thing. Anyway, Nouveaux seemed to be Benson’s flagship rock band for the year, and all the reviews said the same thing: they were the Christian Def Leppard.

Never mind that by 1994, MTV refused to play videos even by the real Def Leppard, let alone a Christian imitation. Here was the Christian answer to the Biggest Rock Band in the World (in 1989). They sounded like this:

Alternative link

‘Christian alternatives’ were vital to the success of the Christian rock industry. A lot of the consumers of Christian rock were teenagers who weren’t allowed to listen to secular bands. There was always a gap in the market for a Jesus-infused “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Van Halen” (that particular niche was never really filled, partly because David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen are inimitable, and partly because it’s the sexual energy that makes Van Halen work, and no Christian band would replicate that). There were Christian imitations of Rush, Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, AC/DC, Ratt… If a metal band went platinum in the ’80s, the Christian labels were scrabbling around for a clone.

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“I feel like the ACE program virtually destroyed my life”

Last year on Reddit, an AMA (Ask Me Anything) about an Accelerated Christian Education school turned into a free-for-all for ex-ACE students. At the time, I explained how it had brought a ton of important ACE survivor stories into the open, and I shared one of the the best. Here’s another from that event. I’m so glad it happened. Many of the stories are tragic, but so much of this would never have come out into the open without it.

reddit-logo-01-674x501-300x222This week’s tales are from the user CANIBALFOODFITE. As I recall, the user expressed the wish not to be contacted about their experiences, but I link to the original posts so you can see the source.

 

I feel like the ACE program virtually destroyed my life.

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Christian Rock Thursdays: Legend Seven vs slutty girls

Legend Seven were never one of the biggest Christian bands (although Wikipedia tells me today’s song was reached #2 on the Christian charts in 1992), and they weren’t one of my favourites either. For some reason, though I got this song stuck in my head the other day, and gave me the idea for this blog series. So here we are.

“Angela” is off the band’s first album, when they were just called Legend. They later changed names to Legend Seven, presumably because there was already a more famous secular band called Legend. Here’s the song:

In case it gets taken off YouTube, here’s another link. And here’s a live version which actually doesn’t suck (at least, no more than the original). And, for your perusal, the lyrics.

It came out in 1991 (or 1992; there are two conflicting reports on Wikipedia, and my copy of the CD is in my old bedroom at my mum’s house) and it sounds pretty typical of the time. Or, rather, it sounds pretty typical of Christian rock at the time, which means it sounds typical of secular rock three years earlier. Now I’m allowed to listen to secular music, it reminds me a bit of Thunder, a British early-90s band who really wished they were Free or Bad Company.

During cock rock era, it was pretty common for bands to write songs about tearaway teenage girls, and in a lot of ways, this song is just another one of that genre. The difference is that if this had been a Motley Crue song, Angela would have been the object of lust. In fact, there is a Mötley Crüe song called “Angela”, and that is indeed the case. That’s what girls are in hair metal songs; they exist to embody the fantasies of the male singers. They are simultaneously worshipped (because they are the providers of sex) and despised (because they are ‘trashy’).

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Escaping Quiverfull

If you follow this blog, there’s a good chance you also follow No Longer Quivering, the blog started by Vyckie Garrison, where I’ve also posted occasionally. Vyckie escaped from quiverfull and since then has dedicated huge amounts of her time to exposing abuses of power within this patriarchal movement.

If you don’t know what quiverfull is, here’s Vyckie’s brief explanation:

Quiverfull ~ is the idea that truly godly families will “trust the Lord” with their family planning. Children are viewed as unmitigated blessings (“As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them”) and as such, the couple is willing to have as many children as the Lord chooses to bless them with. Artificial or chemical birth control such as the Pill or IUDs are equated with abortion ~ the sin of murdering your own offspring. “Natural” birth control such as Natural Family Planning is not actually “natural” because a couple must abstain at the very time of the month when the woman is naturally more desirous of physical intimacy. All methods of “conception control” is considered a lack of trust in God to provide for the “children of the righteous.”

Now Vyckie needs our help. After devoting her life to helping other women escape from Quiverfull, she deserves our help too. Last time I announced on this blog that someone needed our help, we raised almost $1,500 in under 12 hours. I realise that you all have your own financial pressures and commitments, so I’m just going to show you some examples of Vyckie’s work, and I think you’ll agree it’s worthwhile. If you can’t give, though, just check out Vyckie’s story, because it’s amazing. Here’s a video and an article, so choose whichever you prefer.

The end of my life as a “Bride of Christ” came after a visit to Bright Horizons, which is the local domestic violence shelter in my hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska. I went there for help in filing a restraining order against my husband, whose emotional and mental abuse against me and my children had escalated to the point that I was in the midst of a complete mental and physical breakdown. He had taken 6 of our 7 children to a town three hours from our home and was preventing me from having any contact with them unless I agreed to his terms for our “reconciliation.” Read more.

Vyckie is still suffering the fallout from divorcing this man. She is in danger of losing the home where she lives with the last five of her seven children. On her support page, there are various updates showing the work that Vyckie does to support other women in need, like this and this.

It’s all very well encouraging people to leave fundamentalism, but a lot of people aren’t as lucky as I was: For some of them, leaving means losing family, friends, support networks, and income. If you’re in a position to help, please read the fundraising page and consider supporting Vyckie. If you don’t want to use the credit card system on the Give Forward site, you can also donate by PayPal or cheque.

Related posts:

Christian Rock Thursdays: Abortion is Murder

I learned that abortion was wrong before I learned what abortion was. I later learned that abortion was murdering an unborn child. I learned both of these things from Christian rock songs.

A typical example was “Who Will” by DeGarmo & Key, from their 1989 album “The Pledge”, which I found for £1 in a Christian bookshop bargain bin in about 1992. I was seven at the time. I never actually liked “Who Will” very much, but I heard it a fair bit because my dad played the whole album in the car. He never talked to me about the lyrics or what the meant, but I took it that everything therein had his approval since it was Christian and he kept playing it.

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This is how ACE treats its supporters

What happens if you write a letter of complaint to Accelerated Christian Education? Obviously, if write a letter, I’m going to get ignored, because I am regarded as nothing but a tool of the devil (and I do not use that term as a figure of speech). But what about Christians—what about ACE’s customers? Will they take constructive criticism from supporters?

Or are they those stereotypical fundamentalists who are so convinced of their own rightness that they know anyone who disagrees with them is simply wrong?

Online reviews of the ACE curriculum always make interesting reading, but I was particularly struck by this one. After describing what she perceived as faults in the curriculum, the reviewer writes:

I called School of Tomorrow and discussed my concerns with them and they did not have any answers for me regarding how easy it is to “cheat” on the Pace tests and learning to think logically and critically. I even asked if the rep could make and note and say something to whoever is in charge of curriculum, but they won’t do that. The fact is ACE wants testimonies of people who did well using their curriculum but those that did did not go to med school and have to think out the box. They go to bible school, become teachers, maybe there’s an accountant or businessperson scattered in, but I want my children to have a world of opportunities open to them when they decide on a career and I absolutely DO NOT want them to struggle the way I did.

Is it true that ACE is only interested in success stories? Enter Kevin Long. Kevin has recently outed himself as a supporter of this blog, and even contributed a guest post, but it was not ever thus. When Kevin first began commenting here, he was still supportive of aspects of ACE. Before he came round to the Leaving Fundamentalism position on ACE, Kevin defended it as an option for kids who would sink in mainstream schools. He wrote a letter to ACE at that time, and has received no response. Kevin’s given me permission to share it with you. I think it’s quite revealing that ACE won’t respond even to this.

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Christian Rock Thursdays: Whitecross mock the condemned

For a while, Whitecross were my favourite band. I was a bit late to the scene (they were at their peak when I was still learning how to use a toilet), but they had actually been a lot of Christian kids’ favourite hair metal band. Their lead vocalist, Scott Wenzel, sounded almost exactly like Stephen Pearcy from Ratt. In 1987, this was a major selling point. Ratt were a platinum-selling band, but conservative Christian parents wouldn’t let their kids listen to them. Solution: Whitecross.

Whitecross Street

My love of the band meant I spent my childhood getting unreasonably excited by signs like this.

Unlike most Christian versions of secular bands, Whitecross were pretty good (by the standards of a genre which critics universally regard as the nadir of rock n’ roll). I think By Demand, a compilation of Whitecross bangers, might be a better listen than Ratt’s best-of Ratt & Roll 81-91. Whitecross axeman Rex Carroll compares pretty favourably to 80s guitar heroes like Dokken’s George Lynch. And Whitecross definitely have more good songs than Dokken (which is to say, they have some good songs).

Of course, I had no idea at the time that Whitecross sounded like Ratt and Dokken because I wasn’t allowed to listen to those agents of Satan.

Anyway, the Whitecross song I have chosen to dissect is “No Second Chances”, which isn’t necessarily one of their best. It’s here because I find it disturbing.

Alternative link (better audio but no video). Lyrics

So as you probably gathered, this song relates Jesus’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus. As hard rock lyrical fodder, this is—as Bill & Ted would say—most atypical.

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Ex-ACE students have their say

I am on holiday. So instead of a post from me, I’ll treat you to the thoughts of some of 2014’s commenters, both those who agree and who disagree with me.

evolutionists believe we evolved from a rock. a tomato a dog and a human are not the same but evolutionists believe they all came from a common ancestor. you want to believe we came from nothing. face it, you believe that you have evidence for evolution but in reality you are closed minded and hate God and thats why this lie looks like evidence to you. it is convenient to believe that you wont be judged after this life. well my friends it is not. I hope you find Jesus because he is the only one who can make it right.

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Christian Rock Thursdays: DC Talk don’t want your sex

DC Talk might be the most successful evangelical Christian group ever. Their 1995 album Jesus Freak sold two million copies in the US alone. And, if I might have a Christian rock hipster moment here, I liked them before they were famous.

Still, I was recently reminded (by an amusing list called “Top 10 Christian songs that also work as parodies of Christian songs“) of DC Talk’s all-time low point, “I Don’t Want It”.

Lyrics

Yo, s-e-x is a test when I’m pressed
So back up off with less of that zest
Impress this brotha with a life of virtue
The innocence that’s spent is gonna hurt you
Safe is the way they say to play, then again safe ain’t safe at all today
So, just wait for the mate that’s straight from God
and don’t have sex ’til you tie the knot

(This rap was so good they included it in the song twice)

Everyone [here meaning "all the people I grew up with"] knows [here meaning "was indoctrinated to believe"] that your ‘purity’ is the most precious gift you can give your spouse. Because they care so much about their fans, DC Talk wrote a song to help them stay pure: playing “I Don’t Want It” to a potential suitor is a foolproof way to ensure you don’t get laid.

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Christian Education Europe eats itself… bring popcorn!

It’s all go in the exciting world of fundamentalist education this week as former Christian Education Europe (CEE) employee Christine Gregg has started blowing the whistle again. You may remember that recently a website called Ace Education sprang up, seemingly with the primary intention of discrediting Leaving Fundamentalism. This was the blog that gave the world 10 Questions for Jonny Scaramanga. The blogger behind it was Christine. Now she has had enough.

Christine says that she was pressured into writing the blog by CEE founder Arthur Roderick, but never felt comfortable writing it. Now she wants to expose the unethical practices and bullying she says she saw at CEE.

Last week, I also had an article posted on Guardian Science blogs, in which I revealed two things: 1) Four British universities have stated that they consider the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) as entry qualification. 2) When students study science for the ICCE, they will read that it could be possible to generate electricity from snow.

Frozen Elsa

Presumably ACE thought Frozen was a documentary about the potential uses of snow power.

Taken together, these two developments are very bad news for CEE’s flagship product, the ICCE qualification.

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