The son of Vineyard Church UK founders John and Eleanor Mumford started a band. Hipster Evangelicals rejoiced. Finally, here was a band accepted by mainstream culture and these Christians had an excuse to wink-wink-nudge-nudge. Secretly, Marcus Mumford was “one of them” and “in the club.” Did Marcus Mumford present his band as a Christian band? No. But their cryptic lyrics could be read within a Christian context. Songs like “I Will Wait” and “Awake My Soul” were just “spiritual” enough for Evangelical Christians to place Mumford and Sons on their shoulders and claim them as their own.
But the question still remains (if it even matters), are Mumford and Sons Christian? If they aren’t “Christian” what does that mean? Can Christians still listen to them?
Marcus Mumford shed a little light on the subject in a recent Rolling Stone interview:
“I don’t really like that word [Christian], it comes with so much baggage. So, no, I wouldn’t call myself a Christian. I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don’t really like. I have my personal views about the person of Jesus and who he was. Like, you ask a Muslim and they’ll say, ‘Jesus was awesome’ – they’re not Christians, but they still love Jesus. I’ve kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity.”
A collective groan rose up from a million Evangelical Hipsters. What does this mean? Confusion seemed to grip this particular subculture, as evident in a recent Relevant Magazine article:
“He also says that his spiritual journey is a “work in progress,” but he doesn’t doubt God’s existence. You know, to clear things up …”
As I started typing this little article, I went back to the Relevant webpage. The wording seems to have been edited and the author deleted the statement that he was clearly confused. But why should all this matter?
Mainstream Evangelical Christian culture seems to do this all the time with any celebrity claiming some sort of faith. In the 80’s it was U2, I even found most their albums in Christian Book Stores back then. In the 1990’s Christian Bands found themselves in the forefront of culture for their 15 minutes of fame. Bands like DC Talk, Newsboys and Audio Adrenaline found their way into endcaps at the local Target store. In the 2000s P.O.D. became a sensation blurring the line between “Christian” and “Secular” music even more. But that all faded pretty quickly. It’s been played out. P.O.D.s recent album made headlines because they used the word “fuck” in their song I Am off their newest album Murdered Love (the album is mostly shit, with the exception of I Am and in every copy I heard the word was edited out).
For some reasons, Evangelicals need validation that their faith is legitimate by placing their own theology on some sort of celebrity. If an actor or musician thanks “God” for their award, Evangelicals flock to that celebrity for a season. That is, until that celebrity lets them down by not being “Christian” enough.
Personally, I long for the days where we get rid of “labels” all together. An artist uses their art to challenge ideas, inspire, enrich and even offend. Whatever you take away from that piece of art should be yours. Not labeled and packaged up all neatly before you decide you’ll enjoy it.
What do you think? Do you only listen to “Christian” music? If so, why? Do you care that Mumford and Sons are officially not “Christian?” Does it even matter?