Posts Tagged ‘yes our profs got down to this’

A Playlist of Evangelism

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Yes, perhaps I’ve got classic rock on the brain–(all the time, 24-7)– but our readings this week definitely brought to mind some famous songs…and I’m not talkin’ Y.M.C.A. These songs, while perhaps seemingly frivolous at first glance, actually represent how closely religious and secular views of society resembled each other and– dare I say it?– influenced each other.

First of all, we have the Evangelist’s side of things: Don’t Stop Believin’. This rock anthem, brought to you by Journey, seems religiously based at the outset: “Don’t Stop Believin’/Hold onto that feeling,” namely, faith. (This also ties to Journey’s equally-amazing song, Faithfully…but I digress.)

Evangelists of all ages and both sexes urge the Chicagoans to hold fast to their faith in the increasingly secular city in which they live, as the Red Light District expands and venereal disease creeps into the homes of dutiful middle-class Christians. Evangelists are especially quick to criticize prostitutes and those who run from domestic, middle class lives, such as our victim/protagonist? in this Bon Jovi tune, Runaway. Indeed, it seems that this era is full of stereotypes of the woman who runs rampant with promiscuity, poisoning Chicago’s streets with her sexual availability and rebuttal of societal rules. However, equally potent is the girl evangelist (who, admittedly, hits the scene a little later) from “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” who seems (and seeks) to embody a little messenger Angel in the urban slums. In the end though, it always seems to come back to Girls, Girls, Girls!

However, these so-called “religious” messengers are often young and impressionable themselves, and if we take a look at the lyrics of the Journey songs especially– and both of these are lyric vids, just so that you can indeed look at the lyrics if you’re unfamiliar with them, you’re welcome– we can see a sense of loss and displacement on the part of the youth, and something that deviates quite starkly from matters of churchliness:

“A singer in a smoky room/ the smell of wine and cheap perfume/ for a smile, they can share the night/ it goes on and on and on and on/ Strangers waiting, walking down the boulevard, their shadows searching in the night/ Streetlight people livin’ just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the niiiiiiiiight!”

Now, to me this indicates a certain youthful helplessness, which Joiner hits on in Chapter four, saying how the Christian men of Chicago’s younger generation struggle due to “not measuring up” to their father’s “masculinity,” and yet trying to avoid their mother’s “feminized Christianity” simultaneously. Seems like they’re caught in quite the bind, which may lead them further into vice…and lead them to singers in smoky rooms, wine and cheap perfume.

I really do think that the evangelicals of this time fully believed in what they were doing (and preaching)– but that didn’t keep them from suffering from the Stranglehold in which Chicago’s corrupt capitalist society bound them. At the end of the day, all they could do was keep Takin’ it to the Streets and, most importantly, Livin’ on a Prayer.

 

 

 

 

For real, though…

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

I’m sorry to be that complaining student, but it is a grey, grey Tuesday, and it is time to be blunt: does anyone feel like this book could DEFINITELY be more interesting?

I just feel like walloping Ms. Joiner upside the head and hollering, “Hey! You’re talking about class warfare and politics when you could be focusing more on the plights of individual prostitutes/converts! What about minstrelsy? What about carnivale-esque clashes? I need some ACTION!”

I thought things started getting pretty interesting with the gospel wagons, but they were only a brief snippet of what could have (in my opinion) made a really intriguing chapter or two regarding the convergence of religious and secular society. Sigh…

Cruise Control? Not so much.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Okay, so feel free to disagree with me, but a lot of this text seems to focus around miscommunications and confusion of goals at the YMCA. And a lot of these have to do with false assumptions. These include but are not limited to:

1.    Christians are wholesome.

False: Christians TRY to be wholesome. But hey, Christians are people, and people are whole, not wholesome (which, if you think about it, is an oxymoronic word in itself).

2.    Providing sex education will make young men MORE restrained and less likely to engage in sexual acts with other men.

False: Maybe this would have been true if the Y had been less demanding of the men who held positions within the organization, particularly the secretaries. Maybe if they’d gotten to spend more time with their wives, too, they wouldn’t feel such strong homoerotic bonds.

3.    However, in contrast to that previous observation, another assumption the Y held was that homosociality was just as “dangerous” to society as homosexuality…

False: From a 21st-century standpoint, neither is particularly “dangerous. But going along with that…

4.    Similarly, there was the assumption that the “scare” of rampant homoeroticism and homosexual desires being acted upon in the early 20th century were equivalent to homosocial bonds.

False: It is simply that the centuries had different ways of defining what was considered to be “erotic” and what was “good clean fun” in terms of men being around each other/craving each other’s company/expressing longing for being in close proximity to other men’s bodies…

…Sorry this is so scattered; there’s just a lot to say about this piece. Anybody else get a kick out of that one chauvinist who claimed that men were at the Y to get “real work” done, whereas at the YWCA, women do domestic things, such as “make food”? Or for the studies of gay pornography that trace their roots back to these early fitness manuals? That was extremely interesting to me, and I will tell you all why tomorrow…

I do think Gustav-Wrathall could have woven more of a religious context into this, but considering his background as an ex-Mormon may not have proven especially applicable to this scholarship, I do not count the absence of his religious input as a devastating drawback in terms of the work overall.

Cruise Control? Not So Much.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Okay, so feel free to disagree with me, but a lot of this text seems to focus around miscommunications and confusion of goals at the YMCA. And a lot of these have to do with false assumptions. These include but are not limited to:

1. Christians are wholesome.

False: Christians TRY to be wholesome. But hey, Christians are people, and people are whole, not wholesome (which, if you think about it, is an oxymoronic word in itself).

2. Providing sex education will make young men MORE restrained and less likely to engage in sexual acts with other men.

False: Maybe this would have been true if the Y had been less demanding of the men who held positions within the organization, particularly the secretaries. Maybe if they’d gotten to spend more time with their wives, too, they wouldn’t feel such strong homoerotic bonds.

3. However, in contrast to that previous observation, another assumption the Y held was that homosociality was just as “dangerous” to society as homosexuality…

False: From a 21st-century standpoint, neither is particularly “dangerous. But going along with that…

4. Similarly, there was the assumption that the “scare” of rampant homoeroticism and homosexual desires being acted upon in the early 20th century were equivalent to homosocial bonds.

False: It is simply that the centuries had different ways of defining what was considered to be “erotic” and what was “good clean fun” in terms of men being around each other/craving each other’s company/expressing longing for being in close proximity to other men’s bodies…

…Sorry this is so scattered; there’s just a lot to say about this piece. Anybody else get a kick out of that one chauvinist who claimed that men were at the Y to get “real work” done, whereas at the YWCA, women do domestic things, such as “make food”? Or for the studies of gay pornography that trace their roots back to these early fitness manuals? That was extremely interesting to me, and I will tell you all why tomorrow…

I do think Gustav-Wrathall could have woven more of a religious context into this, but considering his background as an ex-Mormon may not have proven especially applicable to this scholarship, I do not count the absence of his religious input as a devastating drawback in terms of the work overall.