Last week the most interesting “controversy” in the Christian blogosphere was the drama surrounding a track from Propaganda’s (really, really good) new album Excellent. The song, “Precious Puritans” is an unsettling meta-critique of the Puritans pretty awful tract record with slavery and race. But with one listen of the song, it is evident that his purpose isn’t to blast the puritans, stir the pot of Christian hero-worship and remind his listeners that even the best of the best are awful. And like anything of this nature, the song got tossed around the blogosphere like controversial little rag doll. The heat started when Owen Strachan, professor of Church History at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, posted a critique of Prop’s track, saying,
I wonder if Propaganda isn’t inclining us to distrust the Puritans. He states his case against them so forcefully, and without any historical nuance, that I wonder if listeners will be inclined to dislike and even hate them…He qualifies his words on Joe Thorn’s blog–pretty strongly, in fact–but what about all the people who hear his song but won’t read that specific blog?
Enter Joe Thorn’s Joe Thorn’s recent blog posts. Prop qualified his words with an interview on Thorn’s blog (as a response to some of the grumpy backlash) and reminded folks that “God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines.”. And realistically, all Prop did was reiterate what he said in the song. The meaning is clear; God uses really awful sinners, like Propaganda and the Puritans. I think Strachan didn’t give the listeners (or Propaganda) enough credit in being able to discern the meaning of the song. ‘Precious Puritans’ is meant to ruffle the feathers of Puritan readers (like me) and it’s meant to wake us up!
Evangelicalism seems to have forgotten about race. American Christians have made a mess of racial relations in the church over the last two hundred years, and instead of proactively moving towards repentance, the church simply doesn’t talk about it anymore. Propaganda doesn’t let us get away with this. I think he realizes that a lot of the dudes out there listening to Christian rap are White dudes. And maybe this is exactly what Prop wanted, because anything that is really true is going to cause a ruckus. Like much of what Propaganda says throughout the album, we should approach this track with a teachable spirit and a humble view of our corporate and personal failures. This disposition will be ripe soil for revival and the fruit of the Spirit.
Check out Joe Thorn’s post for the lyrics of Precious Puritans and to hear the track streaming free. Again, it’s dope.