William Brafford

William Brafford


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608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - The early church and i... · 0 replies · +1 points

Please don't run with the market analogy. I read the Boyer article, and his explanation was so much more interesting than the market analogy because he doesn't reduce it to the material benefits people expect to receive, but rather to the selection value of the religious concepts, regardless of what people expect to get from them. So much better than consumers and branding.

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - As Far As Internet Phe... · 0 replies · +1 points

Does "internet phenomena" mean something that breaks out on the internet? Or does it mean something that appears on the internet?

The internet-exclusive content-creators that have given me the most joy over the years are probably XKCD, Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine, and The Brothers Chaps.

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - Pop Christianity · 1 reply · +1 points

Looking at the article you linked to: it seems significant to me that it's the mainline denominations that are seeing the most decline, and the "generic Christians" (which probably reflects the big nondenominational megachurchs) that are basically holding steady. It's the mainline churches that have generally rejected pop-Christian culture and the nondenominational ones that have embraced it. What does this mean for your analysis?

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - Pop Christianity · 0 replies · +1 points

Green Eagle, J.R.R. Tolkien was definitely a very conservative Catholic.

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - Pop Christianity · 3 replies · +1 points

I've got this very ambivalent relationship to Christian pop music. I grew up on the stuff but I don't listen to it anymore. The stuff that succeeds on Christian radio fails by nearly all of my aesthetic standards, especially in terms of arrangement and production, to the point where I haven't deliberately listened to Christian radio in about a decade. But at the same time, I think much of it just aspires to be music you can listen to in the minivan with your kids. Christian pop is way closer to modern country music than it is to what gets played on pop and rock stations. Despite this, some of the singers and songwriters are able to embrace songcraft, though it usually gets buried in production—just like in country music.

Steven Curtis Chapman is my favorite example. Most of his albums have one or two songs with melodies that are just jaw-dropping. And I've already mentioned Rich Mullins, who, in my opinion, occupies a plateau of his own in terms of quality as a songwriter. Yes, I'd put Rich up there with most anybody.

And then there's a fringe of very honest songwriters who do try to grapple with the deeper issues of faith. They often operate way outside the entertainment-centric Nashville industry. But they're there, and I don't think they should be forgotten in this discussion. Consider Tooth & Nail in the late 90s. Consider the folk-rock scene of the same period (e.g. Waterdeep and Caedmon's Call). Vigilantes of Love had a great run in the 90s. Consider early Pedro the Lion. I really like Anathallo. mewithoutYou has a ton of fans. And, I think, best of all: Sufjan Stevens' Seven Swans album. Do these guys not count?

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - Pop Christianity · 6 replies · +2 points

Point taken about the easy and unfounded optimism evident in so many of these songs, but I can't figure out what we're comparing Christian radio to. Clear Channel rock and pop formatting is just as crappy and one-dimensional, except it gets quality points for playing hits from a time before radio was quite so bad. Does anyone listen to commercial radio in hopes of hearing great art? Isn't candy-coated feel-goodery the point of like seven-eighths of our pop culture already? Are we singling Christians out because they're more inept at lying about how great the world is than the rest of the entertainment industry?

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - Pop Christianity · 1 reply · +2 points

I checked out the review—it sounds like the kind of book I would hate, for all the reasons cited by the reviewer, and for the further reason that I'm not sanguine about the alliance between free markets and theology.

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - Pop Christianity · 0 replies · +2 points

“But gone are the days when Christian music was dominated by, I dunno, Handel's Messiah.”

Also gone are the days when secular music was dominated by Beethoven's String Quartets.

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - Pop Christianity · 0 replies · +2 points

I always meant to get around to reading Daniel Radosh's Rapture Ready, a whole book on just this topic… but I never did. Radosh, who identifies as a secular Jew, researched his book by going to way more Christian book fairs, music festivals, and megachurches than I could stand. Here's an old blog post collecting some reactions to the book. While my main reason for slowly abandoning Evangelical pop culture was a dawning perception of what I took to be its widespread aggressive mediocrity, I can testify to plenty of diamonds in the rough. Rich Mullins didn't have a great cheese detector, but he's still one of my very favorite songwriters.

608 weeks ago @ The League of Ordinary... - “But who versus? Who... · 0 replies · +1 points

I'm sure other commentors will disagree with me here, but I have to say that, although faith can be and often is used to avoid facing difficulties and contradictions in one's way of thinking, my reading of theology has me convinced that the faithful have just as often grappled deeply and subtly with the moral, philosophical, interpretive, and plainly theological weaknesses of their predecessors. Most of the theologians we remember, we remember because they resolved or redescribed an extant problem in such a way that progress was made towards its resolution. John of Damascus, Anselm, Aquinas, Newman, Barth: these men were not ideologues. You can think the revelation from which they claimed to take their bearings was utterly (even transparently) false, but the practice of reasoning from that revelation (and, I would argue, still is) a living tradition.