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A Nomad’s Notes: Don’t tell Jeff about Christian rock

This is my second attempt in one evening to write a column. My first one was about what’s going on in American politics and the zeitgeist of our nation: its tendency to forgive and absolve accused sexual assaulters of their crimes and then put them in positions of power.
But I couldn’t. I cried while trying to write it, and I’m crying now writing about why I can’t write about it — not yet. To ignore politics altogether is a privilege of those who believe they aren’t affected by what’s going on, and I mean in no way to ignore it. But with the realities of those accused still in positions of power, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and the potential for a hit from Tropical Storm Michael, I can only heal myself this week by resorting to humor.
And with that, ladies, gentlemen, non-binary folk, I present to you the real threat to these United States: rock music
I first learned rock music was the true enemy of Christian Americans while hanging out in Fayetteville during Hurricane Florence. Having nothing better to do, I began to research what sins I should be avoiding, and came across a 1982 Christian film called “Rock It’s Your Decision.”
When the film opens we are introduced to our main character Jeff, a vile sinner who won’t appease his godly mother by turning down his rock music. The lyrics to the song playing are truly disturbing: the lead singer repeatedly belts out “We’re gonna have a good time.” Like the people in Sodom and Gomorrah had a good time. Like the Hebrews had a good time of worshipping the golden calf when Moses took too long during his little mountain chat with God? Like the moneychangers did before Christ came and literally upturned their way of life? Truly sinful lyrics.
So Jeff is an evil rebellious teenager whose only major crime is listening to rock music. Naturally, his mother has a mini meltdown and decides to call Jeff’s pastor, Jim Owen, to talk some sense and knock some sin out of Jeff.
Jim talks with Jeff after church one day and challenges Jeff to not listen to rock music for two weeks. He also gives Jeff some totally-unbiased-don’t-worry-about-it Christian books on rock and roll to read, and says if Jeff after those two weeks decides he wants to still listen to rock music, he must provide 10 Bible verses that back up his decision.
Jeff tries to be a good kid for God, reading the books the pastor gives him and turning down a planned trip with his sort-of-girlfriend to a rock concert. “It’s my decision!” he tells her as he holds a Christian anti-rock book that his pastor told him to read with the expectation that Jeff will stop listening to rock music. Later on, Jeff is in his room with a friend, talking about how half the songs on a Lynyrd Skynyrd album are about sex, like he didn’t just listen to these albums five days before without caring about what the lyrics said.
We then get an action-packed montage of Jeff walking through record stores talking to both patrons and managers about rock music, its lyrics and the age groups of those who buy the records. There’s a particularly disturbing scene in which Jeff talks about walking past a music store and hearing the beat of a rock song. He pauses for about two seconds before continuing to walk on through the mall. He tells Jim in a voiceover that the music remained in his head until he got home to listen to a Christian-approved music tape the pastor gave him. But those were the most harrowing two seconds; it’s almost, like Jeff said, as if he was being controlled in much the same way horror movies control you by scaring you or comedy films make you laugh. Clearly the media is trying to control us and now Jeff is learning this for himself.
In the next scene of the film, Jeff and his sort-of-girlfriend go to a party at his friend’s house and Jeff loses it out when an instrumental rock song begins to play in the background. Perhaps Jeff can hear satanic voices between the notes. This scene made me proud of Jeff, that he’d become more attune to detecting subtle sin.
Jeff’s evil friends tell him if he doesn’t like the music he can leave. The right thing to do would’ve been to turn off the music so 20 partygoers can have less fun at the expense of one man. The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. Isn’t that what “Star Trek” taught us?
So Jeff goes home and gives in to Satan for five minutes by going in his room and playing a rock song about walking on water — clearly and cleverly designed to blaspheme Jesus. Jeff’s mother comes up and tells him to turn it down, reminding him of his deal with Jim. Jeff bravely calls out his mother’s own heretical sin of watching soap operas with sex in them all day, because if there’s one thing that’s almost as evil as rock music, it’s the cheesy dramas my mom used to watch when we came home from school.
Jeff drives off to a secluded area and has a heart-to-heart with Christ, who’s definitely concerned about what music Jeff listens to more than he’s concerned about what Jeff does to help his fellow man. At this point I was relieved Jeff knew Christ’s priorities were the right ones. After his one-sided heart-to-heart, Jeff goes back to the party to tell his friends he can’t be their friend anymore if they won’t accept that he’s changed.
The film ends with Jeff speaking to his youth group about the dangers of rock music. He talks about how rock music controls people, because Jeff certainly isn’t being controlled and brainwashed by his pastor and parents into thinking this way. And then Jeff takes one of his records and breaks it over his knee, much like Christ turning over the money-changers’ tables. Truly Christlike behavior. I had chills.
I only wish there was a sequel with 1990s Jeff grappling with the existence of an emerging genre of music called Christian rock.

Lindsay Kriz is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com.