The Fragile Absolute, or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? by Slavoj Zizek

The rumor swept through my circle of friends like wildfire: Bob Dylan had been converted to Christianity (by Larry Norman, no less) and was going to release a religious album! This was many years before Christian rock became mainstream, with mega-hit bands like Creed. In the '70s, contemporary Christian music occupied a small ghetto in the entertainment world, stigmatized by its association with the inherent rebelliousness of rock-and-roll. Musicians like Norman, Keith Green and Phil Keaggy, however, helped many young evangelicals reconcile their cultural isolation from pop culture. My friends and I were desperate to have rock music affirm our faith, in part, I am sure, so that we could listen to it with a clean conscience. We even entertained reckless dreams that Dylan would ignite a renaissance of religious music as powerful as any pagan revelry.

Dylan's faith has come and gone, but pop music is in the church to stay. It is not clear, however, whether the church has baptized rock-and-roll in order to save others or to save itself. Is the church merely updating its musical liturgy, or has it fallen victim to the nearly omnipotent power of popular culture? Who has converted whom?

I was reminded of such questions--and my own youthful enthusiasms--when I read The Fragile Absolute. Slavoj Zizek, who is from Slovenia, is known for blending psychoanalysis and Marxism, with plenty of references to pop culture thrown into the mix. This has given him a virtual cult following overseas, and his reputation is growing in America. Ironically, he is the perfect thinker for global capitalism. He incorporates everything into his philosophy, from Oprah Winfrey to Stephen King. Like a multinational corporation, he will not be satisfied until he penetrates every market.