Politics in “Christian” Songs IV

Like all of the bands I’ve written about in this series, Zao came out of the “Christian” music scene of the 1990s and 2000s, a scene spearheaded in many ways by Tooth and Nail Records and Solidstate (the harder branch of Tooth and Nail). However, the bands I’ve discussed have dropped that “Christian” label, pointing out the problematic nature with such a label, specifically when everyone in the band does not hold Christian beliefs. As I stated previously, this is a longer discussion for another post (or series of posts). If interested, though, I’d suggest reading Mark Salomon’s Simplicity, Andrew Beaujon’s Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock, or even Sho Baraka’s He Saw That It Was Good which talks, at points, about “Christian” hip hop within the broader context of Contemporary Christian Music. I have my own personal stories here, but again, that is not the focus. Rather, I want to look at specific bands and songs under that “Christian” label that address social or political issues, and today, I want to look at two songs by the metal band Zao.

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Politics in “Christian” Songs: Part III

Over the last couple of posts, I’ve written about politics and social commentary in “Christian” bands and songs, specifically metal, punk, and ska. I chose not to write about hip hop because that is another discussion altogether, one that I have written about before when discussing songs by Lecrae, Sho Baraka, and Propaganda. In his new book, He Saw That It Was Good, Sho Baraka writes about the ways that individuals view Jesus, and he comes to this point, even when discussing music such as CCM: “My assessment is that Black Christian expression, especially in its art, has never departed from the Jesus of justice. He is a savior who cares about pain, liberation, and provision.
This focus manifests itself in hip hop, and it does, on varying levels, in punk, metal, and ska, just not necessarily in he same manner. I grew up on these latter genres, in the white evangelical church, and that is why I have been focusing on these songs and bands.

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Politics in “Christian” Songs II

Last post, I began writing about “Christian” bands who address political and social issues in their music. They go against, in many ways, the Contemporary Christian Music which wants squeaky clean songs that don’t challenge the status-quo. Squad Five-O’s “Our State Flag” and Five Iron Frenzy’s “Zen and the Art of Xenophobia” challenge the church’s positions. Today, I want to continue this discussion by looking at two songs from Stavesacre’s How to Live With A Curse (2006), songs that over the course of the past few years, have really resonated with me during our current political moment.

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Politics in “Christian” Songs

Over the past few months, I’ve been noticing a trend in a lot of the older bands and songs that I really cut my teeth on during college during the late 1990s and early 2000s. During that period, I was really into the “Christian” punk, ska, hardcore music scene that initially revolved around Tooth and Nail. I purposefully put “Christian” in quotation marks because as the years have passed, I really do not like that label in this context, or really any context related to art or media. What started standing out to me, as songs popped up on my phone while I was shuffling through, was the ways that these bands either addressed political or social issues during their early years or as their careers progressed. I have never been surprised by these discussions in hip hop artists such as Sho Baraka, Lecrae, or Propaganda, but I should not be shocked about them appearing in the bands I discuss here. However, what kind of shocked me was how much I missed and how much these topics got sidelined through the major Christian retailers. Over the next two posts, I’m going to discuss some of these songs.

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Multicultural American Literature Syllabus 2021

Over the past two years, I have taught three multicultural American literature courses, at various levels from sophomore to graduate. This fall, I am teaching my fourth, and I am doing things a little differently because it is an upper level course. As I constructed each of the previous courses, I purposefully thought about a wide variety of texts and assignments for students. I made sure to include texts that I was unfamiliar with, specifically ones where I would be encountering themes and topics for the first time alongside my students. As well, I thought about assignments that would empower students and get them to use their myriad skills in the production of knowledge. For this fall’s course, I am adhering to those same core principles, and today I want to share with you the syllabus for the course.

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