Throughout history, Christianity and music have been at great odds, often bitter enemies. According to legend, the great blues musician Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for talent, wealth and fame. At the height of Elvis Presley’s popularity in the ‘50s religious conservatives claimed that rock and roll was “the devil’s music”. During a press conference in 1966 John Lennon claimed that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, which caused a major backlash and resulted in public burnings of their records.

Canadian director/Atheist Justin Ludwig has created a documentary called Christcore, about a group of musicians who dare to combine Christianity and rock music. The film starts with Ludwig’s own doubt regarding this relatively new phenomena, citing his own views, but then slowly submerges us into this strange new world.

To me, the combination of punk and Christianity seems to be the worst of both worlds. Anybody who grew up listening to the Sex Pistols or the hymns of a good church choir would agree with me. However the point of Christian Hardcore is that it doesn’t seem to fit, it’s a culture of religious outcasts. Ludwig shows this rather well, as we are immersed in the lives of people with nothing to live for except God and music. They are fascinating and yet incredibly strange.

Though Ludwig has a distaste for Christianity, he doesn’t let his subjective opinion to affect what we see on screen. He allows each subject to speak their mind and he gives them plenty of space to be themselves without judgement. This is refreshing, especially since most documentary directors nowadays use their films as a platform to express their personal beliefs. Unfortunately the film doesn’t dive too deep into Christian philosophy, but despite this, the director is incredibly effective in making Christian Hardcore appealing.

Published in Volume 68, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 25, 2013)

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