Inhabitatio Dei directed me to an interesting blogpost pinpointing quite precisely the shapeshift that has only just started in American Christianity. Funnily enough despite not being American, there were very few references I did not get – more disturbing was that it was almost as if I had written the piece so closely my tastes mirrored the shopping list of the classical Christian hipster bar with the interest in the Pope.
Ironically he doesn’t mention Sufjan Stevens at all in the article (bar the tags) but he features as an icon watching happily over the article like the patron saint of Christian (or should that be Christ-following?) hipsters.
Talking of Sufjan, my obsession with Illinois (aka Come on Feel the Illinoise) is getting out of hand – I don’t think I have listened to any album as much as this one in my life. Maybe Achtung Baby still has a few odd extra listens on it but that was back in 1990 where I had so little money I probably only had a dozen CDs at best. Illinois on the other hand is an oddity – oblique but universal, catchy but very avantgarde in parts, but fundamentally for me, it grapples with the spirituality of the world like few other albums ever have. From the Seer’s tower, the figure of Christ looks out across with the land – the living dead return to life and the alien spaceship becomes a metaphor for the incarnation of God. Parralels to Dylan’s output would be approrpriate if Dylan’s born-again albums weren’t so rum (though they were a heckofalot better than his 80s output!) – note my words: Sufjan will be the enblematic artist of the next decade.
Here’s a beautiful performance of one of the pivotal tracks on his first US state album – Michigan and a great introduction to his theology-meets-humanity approach to songwriting.