Book Reviews: Gods and Guitars

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Gods and Guitars: Seeking the Sacred in Post-1960s Popular Music by Michael J. Gilmour (Baylor University Press)

Reflecting on popular mainstream music since the 1960s, it’s interesting—and even surprising—how spiritual and biblical language, imagery and allusions are contained in so many lyrics of “non-church” music. And all of this occurring in a Western society that is clearly moving away from traditional forms of Christianity and religion.

Musical artists understand the transcendent qualities of music and often wed the music to lyrics that also reach for higher places. Some artists use this spiritual imagery to speak of deeply personal theological discoveries and experiences, while others use the language as symbols for lighter and less meaningful reasons. Others (especially harder rock acts) use scriptural words and pictures to reject religion and turn it on its head out of rebellion or dissatisfaction with “organized” religion and politics.

These and other themes on spirituality in popular music are explored by music-lover and academic Michael Gilmour as he studies examples from the eclectic likes of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, U2, Ozzy Osbourne, Madonna and Cat Stevens, to name a few.

Greg Bowman, minister to students

First Baptist Church



Think Like an Octopus: The Key to Becoming a Good Thinker by Wallace Roark (Wasteland Press)

Wallace Roark is professor of philosophy, emeritus, at Howard Payne University. Don’t allow that to put this book beyond reach and beyond reading. It is a timely book for our age of emotional rhetoric, when few listen and few dialogues are more than monologues.

Think Like an Octopus is a simple, concise, understandable encouragement to think. Additionally, to aid our thinking, Roark offers us a set of tools—the Dialectic. Simply, the Dialectic is all about perspective and possibilities—two things often lacking in the local church and in the culture. When perspective and possibilities are lacking, conversation slowly shuts down, only to be replaced by visceral speech designed to silence, bully and coerce.

Think Like an Octopus is for all ages and for all who want to better utilize the mind God has given. It’s for folks who want to reason, to think through or understand a situation, an opportunity, a dilemma, a challenge or a puzzle. For parents who need to stay one step ahead of their strong-willed child, for couples who want to move through conflict to resolution, for citizens who want to cut through the political screaming and tidal waves of fear and innuendo polluting civic discourse, the Dialectic offers understandable and adaptable principles of thinking wisely.

Small book, small price, big rewards.

Michael R. Chancellor




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