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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

(New) Pornographers

It's not whacky enough that Republicans in Delaware nominated an anti-masturbation crusader to be their candidate for the US Senate yesterday.

This is the cake-topper, if you ask me:
Regrettably, Calvin College has decided to rescind its invitation to the band, The New Pornographers, slated to perform on Friday, October 15, 2010, in the Fieldhouse Complex on campus. We believe that the decision to invite the band fit our rubric of engaging culture through a Christian lens. The band makes good, thoughtful music, and we invited them here based on their artistic merit. However, after weeks of discussion and consideration, the irony of the band's name was impossible to explain to many. The band's name, to some, is mistakenly associated with pornography. Consequently, Calvin, to some, was mistakenly associated with pornography. Neither the college nor the band endorses pornography. The Student Activities Office regrets the way this has happened. We regret the message we have sent to the band and their fans with this cancellation, and any confusion this has caused generally. We have been in contact with the band to explain this regret and the breakdown in our own processes that led us to first invite them and then withdraw that invitation. Calvin College remains committed to the difficult, yet important work at faithfully engaging popular culture.

Since i've never been a Christian, i have no inside information. But is there something about deciding to "engage culture through a Christian lens" that flips the stupid switch in your brain? It's a big, wide, wonderful world and we're only in it for a short time, too short a time to be freaking out about whether or not a band's name is appropriate, or if 14 year olds are touching themselves.



  • Well, alums freak out over ridiculous stuff across the country. A friend of mine posed for the Brown alumni magazine while she was there in 70's vintage clothes and hornrimmed glasses with an intentionally goofy expression on her face, and no less than two letters appeared the next month decrying what having such idiots representing Brown meant for the fallen state of the great university blah blah blah. One of them actually referred to her as a "floozy."

    It's at least quite obvious from the text of the quote there that the activities office clearly thinks the whole fooferaw is beyond stupid, and is embarrassed not that they invited NP, but that they're having to cancel over something so patently moronic. It's left unsaid whether it's campus evangelical groups flipping out, reactionary parents flipping out, or bored alums flipping out. (probably some combination.)

    As for this question:

    'But is there something about deciding to "engage culture through a Christian lens" that flips the stupid switch in your brain?' Well, no, but that's partially because I hear similar statements at church all the time. The modern Calvinist movements stretch across about every political spectrum imaginable, but they all generally agree that Christianity should not operate solely in cloistered walls, but should be in conversation with the world around it. (It's precisely what that means that we get in fights over.)

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 4:51 PM  

  • Michael - i think that we probably agree that there's an argument that the University acted "rationally" in canceling the concert, probably in response to threats from alumni and other donors to cut back funding. Not sure that being embarrassed by that helps or not.

    The question i raise has to do with those who would have been pressuring the University in the first place. Presumably, those people also "engage culture through a Christian lens," although from my perspective that lens appears to be more like a blindfold.

    By Blogger Barry, at 8:59 PM  

  • Oh, and i meant to add that it shouldn't need to be said that i agree you can find people like that practicing pretty much any religion.

    Mohammed cartoons, anyone?

    By Blogger Barry, at 9:02 PM  

  • I would call it "refusing to engage culture at all and sticking your head in the sand and hoping it all just goes away." The people who booked the conference were trying to engage culture, those apparently offended by it were just running from it.

    But yeah, whatever. Semantics.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 10:52 PM  

  • The really delicious part of all of this though, is that the New Pornographers chose their name because Jimmy Swaggart called rock music the "new pornography."

    By Blogger matt, at 1:25 PM  

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