Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Conversation with Relevant Magazine

Throughout this quarter I was able to take a Directed Study with Professor, Rob Johnston, about the topic and conversation of the sacred and the secular. I have been putting off the research for sometime in the last couple of weeks. I have felt stuck and didn't know where to go with my reading or my research on the topic. Today I have finally sat down and tried to gather my thoughts. It's hard some days to write a formal paper because I have become a blog writer and to write academically takes a bit of my spunk and sass away.

Throughout the years I have become a dropout of Evangelical Christianity and if I had to put a qualifier around my faith I have found the most connection with the anabaptists (non-violent, communal, peaceful, and freedom). I think about who I am and who I have become in the last years and I have found a lot of joy with my new language to my faith so attacking a conversation with the sacred and secular has been not an easy task but I have come with a new language and have found hope and a future with my analysis as well as courage to speak on an issue that is quite taboo with evangelical Christianity.

To be a part of an Evangelical subculture for some time I have come across a magazine called Relevant. There aim is for twenty something Christians to break stereotypes and encounter culture through a Christian perspective....or so I thought. I made a phone call this morning and talked with a woman at the magazine who helped answer questions regarding their magazine as well as their aims of the magazine.

I had questions regarding their music reviews. In the magazine there are three qualifiers there critique; music, lyrics, and spirituality. Many issues ago they reviewed Explosions in the Sky's "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone". It is an instrumental record that is utterly beautiful, something that builds and bursts, and has been used frequently on Friday Night Lights (movie as well as television show). the review their critique said the spirituality was N/A. Which for me begged the question what makes something spiritual? Does Jesus have to die on the cross or is the issue tug on the heart and challenge or affirm our own understanding of spiritual?

On the phone call I asked what makes something spiritual? Something bigger than ourselves was my reply. I was also given the understanding (which to be honest shocked me) that they were a 'secular' magazine that talked about God and faith. Well it's interesting to me (as well as something I talked about on the phone) that it's hard for me to believe that when they don't talk about any other faith other than Christianity as well as the advertising is specifically Christian (christian Universities and Seminaries, youth group promotions, Christian companies). It boggles the mind a little bit that it would be anything but secular and again begs a new definition.

My question is what is your qualifier for spirituality? Is their a qualifier? Is the divide even necessary anymore? In the next week this is my quest. To ask these questions, not to come to anyone conclusion, but maybe look and see the damage a division can do or how it may help others see and qualify their faith.


Jemila Kwon said...

I get a shmoozy feel from Relevant -- similar my impression of Zondervon, which is owned by a secular group, yet which promotes a distincly evangelical agenda. Relevant isn't relevant to me because it just smacks a cool cover on evangelical pre-wrapped Christianity. At least that's my impression. I would love to be wrong.

Josh said...

you're not wrong jemila. relevant bites. snooty, pretentious, faux trend christianity.

C. Wess Daniels said...

great post amy, I'd like to see you carry this out further too. I look forward your paper.

Andrew said...

Does something need words to be "spiritual?" Is "spiritual" even a useful category? I love these questions! AND I identify closely with your quandary about academic writing and blogging - except I think mine might go the other direction. I get so caught up in academic writing (which I love oh so much!) that I am often unable to write interestingly about anything at all (for example, see my most recent post on old english poetry and gender stereotypes!). It's not that I'm a great writer - it's just that I get so involved with school that it's hard to switch worlds...I need a mood teleport machine!