October 22, 2011

Book Review: God's Not Dead (And Neither Are We)

God's Not Dead (And Neither Are We) is one of those books that deserves a far wider readership than it will ever attain. There are important lessons on these pages for young musicians, lessons learned the hard way and told directly by the people who learned them. To his great credit, Jerry Wilson stays very much in the background and lets the musicians speak for themselves, telling their stories in their own way, with their own words. At times the prose rises almost to the level of poetry, at other times it is dark, gritty, and as in your face as a heavy metal power chord riff a dozen bars long. Some of these stories are heartbreaking, some of them are encouraging, all of them carry a profound lesson in faith that far too many modern Christians have been spared. Faith is not faith if it has not been challenged and the faith of every artist in these pages has been hit hard, with most of the attacks coming not from the audiences, but from the people the artists trusted to guide their careers and get them their royalty checks on time.

I don't like the music produced by most of the artists Jerry Wilson interviews. I don't like it at all. That does not matter one bit. These stories are not apologetic essays in defense of a genre. These stories are battlefield tales of passionate individuals who sought to bring their message to a fallen world only to have their path blocked not by Satanic minions, but by their own Christian allies. These are real stories of real people with a real desire to be heard above the racket of modern life. Their victories are rich, powerful, and memorable. Their defeats hard lessons in the perils of life on the cutting edge.

Christians of all stripes, non-Christian musicians looking for inside stories of their industry, curious adolescents wondering what it takes to be a rock star, and historians trying to capture the essence of the cultural warfare that swept America in the seventies and eighties, can all benefit from reading this book. There are important life lessons here for anyone willing to learn them.