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This thesis examines the historiographical paradigm of secularization as an analytical trope employed by historians of modern Christianity and as a discursive trope employed by evangelical participants in the contemporary Christian music (CCM) industry. The historical development of CCM from an apparently spontaneous youth revival to a thriving commercial industry has challenged underlying presuppositions that authentic religiosity requires a meaningful distinction between religious and secular music. Participants in the CCM industry have tested the malleability of this distinction by reconfiguring the boundaries between religious and secular performance to fit the shifting demands of the evangelical community and the commercial music market. By treating the distinction between religion and secular culture as a religious belief apart from academic sociocultural theories, this thesis examines its malleability in the popular discourse surrounding the genre and the business of CCM throughout its history. It focuses on evangelicals' attempts to articulate distinctions between Christian and non-Christian music wherein conflicting normative conceptions of authentic religiosity have become especially salient. Though earlier studies have portrayed these conflicts as evidence of the essential incompatibility between evangelism and commercial pop music, this thesis proposes that they have contributed to CCM's success by motivating creativity and innovation in the movement's self-conception as a redemptive enterprise in a secularized society.
Bob Larson, Heavy Metal, Anti-Rock, Larry Norman, Amy Grant, Christian Rock, Jesus Movement, Worship Music, Historiography, U2, Gospel Music, Gospel Music Association, John Styll
Date of Defense
October 29, 2007.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Religion in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
John Corrigan, Professor Directing Thesis; Amanda Porterfield, Committee Member; Amy Koehlinger, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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