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“Keep on Rockin’ in the Christian World?”

A review of
Sects, Love and Rock & Roll

by Joel Heng Hartse.

Reviewed by Adam Newton.

Sects, Love and Rock & Roll
Joel Heng Hartse.

Paperback: Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Sects, Love and RocknRoll - Joel Heng HartseI worked in a Christian bookstore for six years, and for most of it, I did so quite happily. Like the vast majority of people who’ve chosen to work in such an environment, I did it because it brought me close to the things I loved – a combination of God, the Bible, books, and music (it helped that I received a decent discount that encouraged me to re-invest into the store). Those six years were spent providing customers with any and all available information on the newest Study Bible, the newest best-selling books (whether fiction or assorted “Christian Living” topics), and the hot new records (courtesy of whatever hit songs were being played on Houston, TX’s award-winning Christian radio station). I liked it, since I loved talking to people about the aforementioned God, Bible, and books, but my real claim to fame was the reputation I earned amongst the mallrat punk rock Christian kids as being “the guy” that could help them find the Christian alternative to the secular music their evangelical parents didn’t approve of.

So, I found myself laughing, groaning, and shaking my head knowingly with every turn of the page throughout Sects, Love, and Rock & Roll by Joel Heng Hartse, a regular contributor to publications like Paste, Geez, Christianity Today and Image (amongst others).  It would be easy to describe the book as Body Piercing Saved My Life written by a Christian, but this book is a definitely more personal and intimate in nature. It comes across as an open, honest memoir that chronicles one guy’s journey through the waters of both Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and “secular” music, and how he’s still trying to make sense of that (often false) dichotomy.

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