Dahl was not religious by temperament or philosophy, and this seems important. Compare his bristling, stinking, unmetaphorical characters with the watery allegories of the Harry Potter cycle—and his prose with J.K. Rowling’s—and you begin to see that a supernatural frame of reference might not always be such a wonderful thing.
so, the question remains: if god’s not there, but his name’s on the dollar bill that became fare for the cab who took you home, does that mean he exists?
So who’s buying this crap? It’s impossible to know exactly, but if my recollections from Christian summer camp are any indication, kids in cloistered religious communities are desperately eager for anything that looks and sounds like “cool” secular youth culture yet still makes it through parental approval.
Eric Grandy, “Give Up: God Hates You and Owl City is Proof,” The Stranger, March 30, 2010
Yes, OK, I like this and want to believe it, but I feel like I need to be a bit credulous toward such a suspiciously satisfying explanation.
It’s been a long time since I was immersed in Christian teen culture, but my memory is that parental approval isn’t nearly as big a deal as peer approval and self approval. Christian teens don’t need their parents to scare/bully/guilt/persuade them into buying/liking crap that sounds vaguely like slightly scarier crap — they can do it all on their own. My friends and I fell in love with Creed* because we genuinely felt the angst of “My Own Prison” and the longing of “Higher,” not because Mom and Dad read the lyric sheet and okayed it.
The last time I checked in with Christian contemporary crossover, it was all post-grunge soaring choruses and angsty vocals (Lifehouse, Switchfoot, Evanescence); Owl City at least brings the references up to the twenty-first century.
There’s something more to say about the role that “indie quirk” has traditionally played in Christian pop, but it’ll have to wait until I can marshal my resources and really dig into Daniel Amos and Steve Taylor and Mike Knott and a whole vanished sub-subculture to which Owl City isn’t so much heir as faded echo.
*That’s an exaggeration; we pretty much liked them until they were everywhere, just like any scene hipsters.
Yes, that’s exactly the complexity I was looking for. Thanks!