Dan Stringer

navigating the convergence of faith, culture and the common good

Growing up evangelical: A sacred-secular chronology

June 19, 2012

Raise your hand if you grew up evangelical. Does anyone remember those CCM store displays attempting to lure customers with comparisons like, “If you like Sting, you might like Steven Curtis Chapman” or “If you like Jewel, you might like Rebecca St. James”?

Among the peculiar realities of growing up evangelical was navigating the strange dichotomy of “Christian vs. secular” spheres of product consumption, exemplified most vividly in the realms of commercial music and book distribution. In high school, for example, I can remember listening to both the Beastie Boys and the Newsboys on my precious Sony Discman, enjoying the percussive grooves and cheesy lyrics of each group in their own special way. Around that same time, I also read novels by both John Grisham and Frank Peretti—a page-turner is a page-turner right?

If you’re anything like me, you daydream about the past when you should be living in the moment. Or you get fixated on what’s current when some historical perspective might be more appropriate. Rather than attempt any profound reflections on the various writers, artists and entertainers I’ve been “into” over the course of my life from childhood to the present, I thought it might be trippy to compose a list (yes, another list) chronicling some of my favorites fluctuating from year to year. You’ll notice I’ve tried to include samples from both “worlds” in keeping with the contrived sacred/secular paradigm of my upbringing. Funny how quickly one’s interests can change.

  • 2012: Rachel Held Evans / Flight of the Conchords
  • 2011: Tim Keller / Lauryn Hill
  • 2010: Bethel Music / Sigur Rós
  • 2009: Scot McKnight / Pat the Bunny (Vincent’s favorite)
  • 2008: Richard Mouw / Barbara Kingsolver
  • 2007: Derek Webb / Matisyahu
  • 2006: Shane Claiborne / Ben Harper
  • 2005: Brian McLaren / Jon Stewart
  • 2004: Jim Wallis / Franz Ferdinand
  • 2003: Any book promising a lifetime of marital bliss / Coldplay
  • 2002: John Piper / The Strokes
  • 2001: U2 and Bob Dylan (oh no, my categories!)
  • 2000: Delirious / Goo Goo Dolls
  • 1999: Burlap to Cashmere / Counting Crows
  • 1998: Matt Redman / The Chemical Brothers
  • 1997: Audio Adrenaline / Beastie Boys
  • 1996: Jars of Clay / Michael Learns to Rock
  • 1995: Sports Spectrum (magazine) / Sports Illustrated
  • 1994: Newsboys / The Eagles
  • 1993: Petra / Queen
  • 1992: DC Talk / MC Hammer
  • 1991: Adventures in Odyssey / Will Clark
  • 1990: McGee and Me! / Joe Montana
  • 1989: G.T. and the Halo Express / Magic Johnson
  • 1988: Superbook / Wayne Gretzky (we lived in Canada)
  • 1987: Clubhouse (magazine) / Highlights
  • 1986: Psalty the Singing Songbook / ThunderCats
  • 1985: Flannelgraphs / The Transformers
  • 1984: Sesame Street
  • 1983: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
  • 1982: Lowly Worm
  • 1980-1981: Anything that smelled like milk