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N.K. Carter

Jennifer Knapp

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Our friend Sundered is just engaging in some wishful thinking with Sufjan. Not that I blame him. And not that it would matter--Sufjan attends a solidly pro-gay church IIRC.

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I kind of think Sufjan is gay, but it gets a bit sketchy when we're just like, "well, so-and-so SEEMS gay." I quickly dismissed people who said the same about Knapp, though, so really, I have no idea.

Edited by Joel

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I don't think it makes much sense to speculate on anyone's orientation*, but I do think it's true that part of Sufjan's popularity stems from his expanding the range of possibilities for what masculinity can look like for young Christian dudes. He offers solutions. This is related insofar as heterosexism has its roots in sexism.

*I make an exception for Carman. :lol:

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And then there's "Size Too Small," in which I really have no idea what Stevens was trying to say and thus don't really have a rejoinder.

I'm not going to get into the "gay or not gay" debate, but thought I'd mention this: "Size Too Small" and "The Dress Looks Nice On You" are about an older girlfriend he had in high school. Someone transcribed his stories and posted them at SongMeanings: Size Too Small and Dress Looks Nice On You

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Jennifer will be the guest on Larry King Live on CNN, Friday, April 23rd, 9:00 p.m. EST, 6:00 p.m. PST.

... along with guests Clay Aiken and Ted Haggard. It's going to be quite the roundtable on sexual ethics and theology.


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Jennifer will be the guest on Larry King Live on CNN, Friday, April 23rd, 9:00 p.m. EST, 6:00 p.m. PST.

... along with guests Clay Aiken and Ted Haggard. It's going to be quite the roundtable on sexual ethics and theology.

Oh, snap! Ted Haggard? I might actually watch this.

Edited by Joel

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Gadzooks. What an odd, eclectic combination of people. If there is any one positive thing that might come out of this juxtaposition, maybe people will stop referring to "the gay lifestyle" in the singular, as though it were a consistent one-size-fits-all phenomenon.

Hmmm. I wonder if they even THOUGHT about contacting Ray Boltz. Not as tabloidworthy, I guess.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Gadzooks. What an odd, eclectic combination of people. If there is any one positive thing that might come out of this juxtaposition, maybe people will stop referring to "the gay lifestyle" in the singular, as though it were a consistent one-size-fits-all phenomenon.

Hmmm. I wonder if they even THOUGHT about contacting Ray Boltz. Not as tabloidworthy, I guess.

I just don't think many Larry King watchers have ever heard of Ray Boltz. Probably not many have heard of Knapp, either, although she spent way more time outside the CCM ghetto than Boltz ever did.

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Writing in cursive makes you a girl? 8O

Yes. All people who have ever written in cursive are girls.

No, but it's not the type of thing you would usually mention at the top of a song unless you were ensure your audience knew that your protagonist was either (a) a girl or (B) a writer. And which one Sufjan was aiming for is completely clear in my eyes ears.

Clarity can be fun.

But he said in this concert that Palisades is a story about him and his buddy at summer camp...

PS lol the wings

Edited by Sundered

I reason, Earth is short -

And Anguish - absolute -

And many hurt,

But, what of that?

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If anyone is still interested in the actual music

Exactly! It's almost like when In Rainbows came out -- the music almost didn't matter to anybody who was writing about it as a cultural event.

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That is precisely the analogy I've been thinking about, Joel. And in both cases: What a shame.

I never had much to say about the "cultural aspect" of In Rainbows...my friends and I just discussed what songs we like on it. I am waiting to get Knapps album so I can enjoy the music.


"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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Speaking of Knapp's music (which I really was not all that familiar with aside from "Undo Me"), this song is really doing it for me. (If the embedded thing doesn't work, it's on

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After watching her interview with Larry King, I'm doing a complete 180 on my former position. At the risk of sounding Vineyardesque, I think Jennifer Knapp will see a revival of her singing career that will far surpass her late 90's Kansas days.


"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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Relevant has a weird interview, humorously prefaced by a bit of mild complaining that Knapp gave the "Yep I'm Gay" scoop to CT.

Knapp's approach is more and more interesting to me--her impatience with people turning this "issue" into a debate about interpretation of scripture without attending to the human needs seems to be annoying some on both "sides," but it also seems to connect with a key element of contemporary evangelicalism--the emphasis on community and relationship-building over doctrine or theology. (This is something that my secular queer friends often don't understand--it goes a long way to explain why i've never really felt unsafe emotionally or otherwise around conservative evangelicals). Unfortunately she's also bumping up against the another evangelical tendency--the emphasis of apologetics over theology. Judging from comment threads and twitter reactions many in her audience have a basic unfamiliarity with the historical diversity of Christian belief & practice on hermeneutics, etc.

(Of course many CCM artists like many in the christian media industry have long been loathe to opine directly on matters theological--i assume this historically stems from a desire to avoid unnecessarily alienating people, both for ministry purposes and marketing purposes.)

More on the way: country singer Chely Wright is apparently coming out next week. She's working closely with Faith In America and the Interfaith Alliance. Mark your calendars, I guess.

Edited by Holy Moly!

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Holy Moly! wrote:

: Knapp's approach is more and more interesting to me--her impatience with people turning this "issue" into a debate about interpretation of scripture without attending to the human needs seems to be annoying some on both "sides," but it also seems to connect with a key element of contemporary evangelicalism--the emphasis on community and relationship-building over doctrine or theology.

Yes, she is certainly exposing one of evangelicalism's weaknesses, here.

The weakness, of course, is not that evangelicals care about "human needs", per se, but rather that perceived needs tend to override what the church teaches and has always taught about human nature.

Amy Grant already exposed one aspect of this weakness when she justified leaving her husband on the basis that "God made marriage for man, not man for marriage" -- which is, admittedly, a clever spin on what Jesus said about the Sabbath, but I'm not sure it's all that easy to put marriage and the Sabbath in the same category like that. And it certainly doesn't square with what Jesus himself said about marriage and divorce.

So now Knapp is exposing one other aspect of this weakness when she says she's going to let everyone else debate what people in her situation should do while she just does whatever she wants to do. She gives no indication at all that the discussion might inform her choices. Indeed, as far as I can recall, she doesn't even give any indication that she might be all that involved in the debate herself. It seems to be enough for her to say that other people are discussing the issue, so she doesn't have to.

I have a few more thoughts along these lines, but they'd be better suited for the other thread (which I haven't had a chance to catch up on for a few days now, sigh).


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Great article, Joel, your google quip had me laughing out loud.

I think I disagree with this though:

The sad truth is that Jennifer Knapp’s music—which has, as far as I can tell, always been beautiful, honest, and heartfelt—suddenly matters less than it used to for a lot of people, because the orbit of ideological, political, theological, and moral issues spinning around her is starting to matter to them/us more.

I don't think this is a zero-sum equation. The music can matter more precisely because the political, theological, and moral issues matter more.

People often make this zero-sum mistake when evaluating political art or politicized art criticism, imagining that art can be this pure refined entity that could possibly be understood outside of its historical/social/political/ethical context. I want to contest the tendency to see these political, theological discussions as somehow polluting our appreciation/evaluation of the art.

I recognize that some of y'all come from a CCM/post-CCM background where engagement with the artistic quality used to take a backseat to ideological considerations and some of y'all have spent years trying to elevate that discussion in various media. So on one hand I see what you're reacting against. Certainly our affinity for a political/theological/moral cause should not blind us to artistic failure (witness the mid 90s Jimmy Somerville CD of awful gay-empowerment anthems i got out of a dollar bin this weekend, ugh), and certainly we can recognize the artistic triumphs of Wagner or Eminem alongside their ethical vacuity. I'm sure we all agree on that. And certainly art is particularly capable of moving us past pro and con "positions" on "issues" to a more engaged position of "witness".

But (like a good feminist-Frankfurt school disciple) I always want more talk of ideology, politics, theology to infuse our cultural thought-work.

...on the other hand Joel, maybe i see what you're saying when i get to Peter's post:

So now Knapp is exposing one other aspect of this weakness when she says she's going to let everyone else debate what people in her situation should do while she just does whatever she wants to do. She gives no indication at all that the discussion might inform her choices. Indeed, as far as I can recall, she doesn't even give any indication that she might be all that involved in the debate herself. It seems to be enough for her to say that other people are discussing the issue, so she doesn't have to.

Well, she certainly gives every indication in the content of her actual art to have given prayerful consideration to what factors are supposed to influence her choices. But indeed, it's true that she doesn't have to; she doesn't owe anyone any treatise or doctrinal statement, nor does N.T. Wright owe anyone an album of rousing emotional folk-pop.

Edited by Holy Moly!

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I think we do agree. I'm not saying it's good that the other stuff "matters more" -- it all matters -- just that it seems to, and not just to Christians -- to anybody who is writing about this. How many descriptions of what Jennifer Knapp's music sounds like have you seen since early April?

Edited by Joel

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How many descriptions of what Jennifer Knapp's music sounds like have you seen since early April?

That could simply be because the people that are talking about her already know what she sounds like. It'd be like if Tori Amos came out with a record and said she was a lesbian. Without the Christian questions, there's nothing there to talk about. It's still a Tori Amos record.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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How many descriptions of what Jennifer Knapp's music sounds like have you seen since early April?

That could simply be because the people that are talking about her already know what she sounds like. It'd be like if Tori Amos came out with a record and said she was a lesbian. Without the Christian questions, there's nothing there to talk about. It's still a Tori Amos record.

Maybe, but the headlines -- "Christian music star Jennifer Knapp says she is a lesbian" -- and the commentaries by most anybody commentating, seem a lot more interested in a cartoony paradox than in her music -- but really you're right; music isn't news. There will probably be more said when her record comes out in a few weeks.

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