Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Pop Culture "Vita"

How should Christians respond to culture? Go with the flow? Barricade themselves? Or engage it?

The challenge, I think, is to be "in" the world, but not "of" the world (1 John 2:15-17 and John 17:15). When it comes to pop rock culture, I enjoyed several years "mixing it up" with the world when I was manager of a record store in Ohio. Being "salt and light" in that environment was challenging, but fun. Moments of faithfulness and failure. Here are my pop culture highlights:

Ending up in a Lou Reed video, "Busload of Faith."
One day a friend came into my store and said, "I just saw you on MTV." What? Later, he brought in a video he recorded off the television. There I was in a Lou Reed video. Apparently, when I saw him in concert in Columbus, Ohio, they were filming. My appearance is at :59. The camera pans the crowd and then zooms in and out very quickly. In the middle of the crowd, zoomed in, is me. Ironic that me, a Christian believer, appears in an anti-god song.

Hosting an in-store autograph session with the Ramones.
In 1986, the Ramones spent an hour in our store signing autographs and promoting their newest LP at the time, Too Tough to Die. When they played on the campus of Ohio University that night, Joey the lead singer said between songs, "This one goes out to Schoolkids records for having us today in their store."

Talking on the phone to Kate Bush.
When Kate signed on with Columbia Records, I was invited to participate in a conference call in 1989. I asked her, "Tell us about your spiritual influences." She didn't mention Jesus.

One among thousands at the tragic Who concert in Cincinnati, 1979.
My friend and I arrived late and we went through doors on the other side of the coliseum. We didn't know what happened until we got to our car. My family was very worried that night. 11 people died in a crush of humanity because coliseum doors never opened until late before show time.

Meeting David Byrne backstage after a show.

A music icon. Met him after a show in Cleveland in 1990, when he toured for Rei Momo.

Meeting Adrian Belew backstage after a show.
I mention this because I'm a King Crimson fan. Belew is truly a good guy. Met him at Bogarts in Cincinnati after a Bears show.

Crossing paths with Charlie Peacock at significant moments.
Charlie is the conscious of Christian music. A great spokesman, thoughtful critic, and darn good musician. Met him at his first appearance at Cornerstone Music Festival, where he dedicated a song to my friend. Years later, I saw in concert in Columbus, Ohio when one of his singers, Vince Ebo, made his first profession of faith in Jesus.

Striking up a friendship with Mike Stand of the Altar Boys.
AB came to Athens in 1987 for an outdoor concert, during the "Against the Grain" era. I introduced Mike to Midnight Oil and he really dug them. Back in the 80's, AB earned a hearing of the Gospel because they played authentic rock-n-roll and did it well.

Bringing Mike Roe of the 77s to Little River, KS for a concert.
My favorite "Christian" band for years has been the 77s. Honest lyrics about faith and struggle. In 2004, Mike came to our little town to play at our high school baccalaureate service, followed by an acoustic concert. Afterwards, we went to McDonald's for Mike's favorite, a hot fudge sundae.

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