Anyway, I was fascinated by your report of the booksellers' convention, and not just for the Tammy Faye dish. I was struck by the look-alike, sound-alike titles, and it made me wonder: What good is an alternative pop culture if it doesn't have any ideas of its own?
The growth of this parallel culture has been widely reported and commented on, but I don't think I've ever heard a Christian bookseller, music marketer or anyone else address the question of originality. Don't like profane hip-hop? Try Christian hip-hop. Nihilist heavy metal leave you cold? We've got uplifting heavy metal, right here. The ya-ya sisterhood begets the yada-yada prayer group. Serial crime thrillers beget "Left Behind." And so on.
Considering that the source material for Christianity is the foundation for much of western civilization, you'd think it would be more compelling as the inspiration for art, even pop/commercial product-art, but all the parallel culture offers is watered-down, G-rated versions of the spicy stuff.
I think that Christians are on the defensive now and our faith is weak. The great works of Christendom came when everyone was Christian - not enough good writers and artists are Christian now to get the "synergy" going to create good art.Kids grow up in nominally Christian homes, so they learn to like hip-hop & nihilistic music before their conversions. And they still like the music, post-conversion, if not the lyrics. Asking kids (or anyone) not to be conformists is asking a lot. If serious Christianity became mainstream, we'd have more risk-takers, with better art as a byproduct.
Jeremy Lott's Reason piece on the 2002 CBA
Mark Galli's dispatch on this year's CBA for Christianity Today, with lots more detail on fun items (and more links to past dispatches at the bottom of the article)- I never had time to really peruse the arcana, being in the presence of a two-year old in a stroller who just wants to "go!"