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Sufjan Stevens profiled for being a Christian musician who defies the stereotype

Sufjan Stevens profiled for being a Christian musician who defies the stereotype

David Roark writes about the popularity and broad appeal of musician Sufjan Stevens, a musician who explores Christian themes in his lyrics, contrasting it with the limited reach of music which adds “Christian” to the label.

The article refers to a 2006 interview in DOA with Stevens about how his music is marketed and viewed.

From the interview:

But it suddenly seems strange to people (to the press, or to the consumer, I’m not sure which) that their faith should not prescribe their art or their merchandising. Christian music (as a genre) exists exclusively within the few insulated floors (cubicles and computers included) of some corporate construction in Nashville, Tenn. Otherwise, there’s no such thing as Christian music.

Roark contrasts music explicitly labeled ‘Christian’ versus music which is created by Christians, and comes to the conclusion that music labelled ‘Christian’ typically places quality as a secondary goal.

From the article:

This new wave of Christians making music didn’t anchor itself in artistic excellence or music that spoke to popular culture; it viewed music—and art in general—as a mere tool for evangelism, or as propaganda. Christians defaulted to writing songs that simply imitated those of the mainstream, yet with less talent and lower production values, and more than a little Jesus name-dropping thrown in the mix. It’s part of the reason why Gregory Thornbury, president of the King’s College in New York City, noted that, “Christianity is the greatest of all nouns but the lamest of all adjectives.”

Do you listen to Sufjan Stevens? What do you like about his work? Are there artists and bands that you think transcend the sub-genre label they operate under?


Posted by David Streever


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Peter Wallace

I have followed Sufjan’s work for years, and knew he had expressed Christian faith in the past but never considered him a Christian musician as that term is commonly understood. I commend his work to you!

Phil Gentry

Sufjan used to explicitly identify himself as an Episcopalian in the Anglo-Catholic tradition; does anyone know if this still holds true?

Philip Snyder

“Christianity is the greatest of all nouns but the lamest of all adjectives.” How true that statement is! “Contemporary Christian Music” is often “3 cords, 4 words, 5 verses.”

If you have to mark your music/film/art specifically as “Christian” in order to sell it, then it is generally sub-par.

Oh for the days when the world’s greatest artists were Christian artists and espoused Christian themes without trying to market it to consumerist Christians – Michaelangelo, Raphael, DaVinci, etc.

As Hank Hill said:

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