Who is Fit for the Secular Kingdom?
A Review of
How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom
Hardback: HMH Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Matthew J. Kaul
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. I listened to a lot of Christian rock. One of my favorite bands was Audio Adrenaline. Audio A’s second album, and the one that introduced me to them, was called Don’t Censor Me. Listening to it now is a bewildering experience.
The album’s theme — remember, this is rock music — is a defense of what many would call “traditional values.” It’s full of rock-n-roll protest songs that call for a defense of the Christian family-values establishment. And no small amount of the Christian rock that I listened to (which is to say, the most popular Christian rock) took this form: in addition to several tracks on Don’t Censor Me, songs by the Newsboys and dc talk expressed similar sentiments.
What concepts help us understand such strange juxtapositions as rock and conservative politics? What’s the best way to understand what it means to headbang to lyrics like “You can take God out of my school / you can make me listen to you. / You can take God out of the pledge / but you can’t take God out of my head”? Who was I, as I was doing so?
In Jacques Berlinerblau’s terms, I would be a good little “revivalist.” What’s a revivalist? It’s tough to say, because he never defines the category. He’s not using it in the tradition sense of someone who works for or participates in a revival meeting. For Berlinerblau, the “Revival” (both terms are always capitalized, because they’re really scary) is simply the fact that religion hasn’t died off yet: