Lately I’ve seen a lot of articles and book reviews regarding Christianity and pop culture, which reminds me of something I wanted to write about…
Carmen is the Meatloaf of Contemporary Christian Music. He is huge. During my childhood, he was bigger than Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. In fact, he holds the world record for the largest Christian concert ever.
When I was a kid, I loved Carmen because his songs were less music and more storytelling.* Say what you will about Sunday School, but Bible stories are crazy and I think that’s partly why I became a writer.
One song I dug was called “Satan Bite The Dust”. The video is nothing short of fucking insane:
His song “Lazarus” (about the guy Jesus brings back from the dead – the first zombie?) was my favorite (the part at 5:20 was awesome to act out as a kid – watch the crowd go apeshit):
When I lived in Guatemala, we spent most of the time working in orphanages and passing out medicine and stuff. However, we did go out into the city one day to preach.
Our strategy to save the Guatemalans? Do an interpretive dance to Carmen’s song, “The Champion”:
I realize you don’t have time to sit through 10 minutes of this, but the gist of “The Champion” is a battle between Jesus and the Devil, with the build up of a boxing match and “Casey at Bat”.
My friend Kennis played Jesus. Jessica was a demon. I was cast as part of Jesus’ tomb, which is the Christian equivalent of getting cast as a tree in the school play.
It was pretty silly and embarrassing, but I remember that day vividly for three reasons:
1. We had to use a dubbed Spanish version of the song, which was aaawwweeesome. Imagine some dude growling, “El Diablo… El Dios… COMBATE!” Gave me the church giggles every time.
2. We performed this right outside of a bar, and there was a prostitute in the bar who kept trying to get attention by shrieking like this: “AYE-YI-YI-YI-YI!”
3. While I have mixed feelings about actual ministry-based mission work, I’m glad I did it that day. I offered to pray with some lady after we performed and she just hugged me and cried and cried and cried. By then my translator had wandered away, so I have no idea what she was telling me. I was 14 years old.
I never saw Carmen in person, but I did see the super-rockin’ Christian band Petra at Six Flags. Um, more than once.
*Today, I love him because I learned his first album is titled “Some-O-Dat.”