Tom BEAUDOIN, ed. Secular Music and Sacred Theology. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013. XXIV + pp. 169. ISBN 978-0-8146-8024-7. Reviewed by Francis X. KLOSE, La Salle University, 1800 W. Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19144
Theology through Artistry is the shortest section of the book, with just two essays. The first considers Karl Barth's assertion that the Gospel exists outside the realm of the self; the second considers the vantage point of the artist, living in between two worlds: that of an artist and that of a Christian, considering Yves Klein's assertion that artists are alchemists instead of photographers. Thus, musicial artists, like theologians are trying to piece together the mysteries of human life in their own unique way.
Theology through Community demonstrates the theological role popular music plays in the lives of people, unbeknownst to them. The “do-it-yourself punk” approach is highlighted, relating to a culture of independence that exists within the field of theology. The seeker, bound by institutionally-drawn lines, seeks a personal path that satisfies a sense of freedom, reflected in the non-conformist punk approach. The section also highlights contributions to justice in the civil rights movement through music, as well as the struggles of theodicy in Dave Matthews Band.
Theology through Song includes the highlight of the book, a fascinating essay by Daniel White Hodge entitled, "Baptized in Dirty Water: Locating the Gospel of Tupac Amaru Shakur in the Post Soul Context". Shakur was born into "a type of ghetto spiritual essence" and yet became and continues to be a "contextualized spiritual authority entrenched in the murky waters of the profane and sacred". Also strong is a look at Pearl Jam’s Ten in its entirety as an album portraying a life after trauma, and what hope may exist after the cycle of trauma has ended.
Secular Music and Sacred Theology evolves from Beaudoin's "Rock and Theology" blog. The essays are especially appropriate for any young seeker looking to knowable domains to make connections. The book would be a nice supplementary text for any college-level course looking to compare the sacred and the secular. Given Beaudoin’s commitment to his blog, I would expect that there are follow-up editions in the future.