Gray Sabbath: Jesus People USA, the Evangelical Left, and the Evolution of Christian Rock

Paperback | August 11, 2015

byShawn David Young

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Formed in 1972, Jesus People USA is an evangelical Christian community that fundamentally transformed the American Christian music industry and the practice of American evangelicalism, which continues to evolve under its influence. In this fascinating ethnographic study, Shawn David Young replays not only the growth and influence of the group over the past three decades but also the left-leaning politics it developed that continue to serve as a catalyst for change.

Jesus People USA established a still-thriving Christian commune in downtown Chicago and a ground-breaking music festival that redefined the American Christian rock industry. Rather than join "establishment" evangelicalism and participate in what would become the megachurch movement, this community adopted a modified socialism and embraced forms of activism commonly associated with the New Left. Today the ideological tolerance of Jesus People USA aligns them closer to liberalism than to the religious right, and Young studies the embodiment of this liminality and its challenge to mainstream evangelical belief. He suggests the survival of this group is linked to a growing disenchantment with the separation of public and private, individual and community, and finds echoes of this postmodern faith deep within the evangelical subculture.

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From the Publisher

Formed in 1972, Jesus People USA is an evangelical Christian community that fundamentally transformed the American Christian music industry and the practice of American evangelicalism, which continues to evolve under its influence. In this fascinating ethnographic study, Shawn David Young replays not only the growth and influence of t...

Shawn David Young is director of music industry and recording technology at York College of Pennsylvania, where he also teaches courses in American studies. He has published research on the counterculture of the 1960s, communal living, music festivals, the politics of popular music, and Christian rock music in a number of journals, in...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:August 11, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231172397

ISBN - 13:9780231172394

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments1. Introduction2. The Largest American Commune3. The Blessing and Curse of Community4. Big Shoulders, Big History: Why Chicago?5. Theology, Politics, and Culture6. The Christian Woodstock: Vernacular Religion, Influence, and Conflicting Worlds7. The Future: Ex-Members, Second Generation, and Social Dynamics8. ConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

In Gray Sabbath, Shawn David Young tells a riveting story about Jesus People USA and the Cornerstone music festival, a tale of cultural currents and evangelical adjustments in the face of social changes. But this narrative is larger than that, both cautionary tale and a blueprint for a more hopeful future for evangelicalism. This is a very good and important book.