by School of Communications faculty member Constance Book and Elon
student Megan Livengood, "Watering Down Christianity? An Examination
of the Use of Theological Words in Christian Music," appears
the Journal of Media and Religion, Volume 3, No. 2.
a 2003 Elon graduate. She and Book collaborated on the article during
Livengood's senior year at Elon. Livengood is working for a small
business in Raleigh while preparing to attend graduate school.
Megan was a professional joy," Book said. "Facilitating
Megan's interest in Christian music and how lyrics in those songs
create a frame of reference for Chrisitianity, was a thoughtful
journey in knowledge and understanding for both of us. To also have
that work recognized by peers and placed in a permanent form that
will continue the academic debate is a validation of the important
ideas born while mentoring undergraduate research."
"Watering Down Christianity?" details the examination
of five years of successful Christian music to determine if there
had been a significant change in the amount of theological language
used in contemporary Christian songs.
The study spins
off from a 1999 Wall Street Journal article in which the Christian
music industry was accused of watering down its lyrics in an effort
to increase profits. The coding of 100 of the top songs from 1996-2002
in the Christian Hit Radio and Rock genres found no systematic or
significant decline in total theological words. However, an examination
of the type of theological words used in lyrics demonstrated that
words have become significantly less explicitly Christian.