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March 4, 2009

Nathaniel Marshall: Do you care if he loves Jesus?

If you think I’ve been making up all this stuff about God vs. Gay, read this blog entry from Brian Mansfield of USA Today

Nathaniel’s pre-American Idol digital footprint presents him as a emo-loving atheist. Yet onIdol, he sings Lonestar songs and leads his Group Night partners in prayer.

Nathaniel first grabbed my attention during Hollywood week when he sang his a cappellaversion of a song called The Anchor Holds by Ray Boltz.

You don’t go an American Idol and choose a 15-year-old song by a relatively little-known Christian singer song by default. You make a conscious decision to go off-list and get special clearance so you can perform a song that very few people will know. But those who do know it likely will interpret it as a very strong statement.

For those who don’t know, Boltz is a Christian singer most popular during the ’80s and ’90s. He retired from performing several years ago, around the time he told his family about his homosexuality. He came out publicly last September in an interview with The Washington Blade and currently performs in Metropolitan Community Churches.

So if you go on national television and announce that you’re singing a Ray Boltz song, you’re sending a clear message.

It’s a risky move to introduce yourself to a national, mainstream, television-watching audience by saying, ‘I’m a Christian’ and then hope for their acceptance. It’s similarly risky for the first thing you say to that audience to be, ‘I’m gay’ (which according to some of the personal profiles that existed before Idol, Nathaniel is). But it’s a matter of an exponentially different magnitude to combine those two things and say, ‘I’m gay, and I’m a Christian,’ even obliquely. That takes some guts.

After Nathaniel sang The Anchor Holds, I emailed Boltz, and we talked by phone a few days later.

Boltz told me he thought Nathaniel did a great job with his song, which he wrote with a friend named Lawrence Chewning. “It’s not a song that has a lot of vocal gymnastics to show how great your voice is, but it’s a song that I’ve received literally thousands of letters from people who have said it helped them get through some tough times,” Boltz says. “It’s obvious to me that he has some kind of connection with the song and the message. That’s what touched my heart, and I think that’s what got him through.”

The songs lyrics are, in part:

The anchor holds though the ship is battered
The anchor holds though the sails are torn
I’ve fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas
But the anchor holds in spite of the storm.

“I think it still means the same thing it did when I helped write it in the mid-’90s, that I’m looking beyond myself for strength and the ability to make it,” Boltz says. “We need something to hang onto, something to believe in. That’s definitely helped me in the last few years!

Boltz says he’s not convinced that Nathaniel is quite the high-strung, hyper-emotional person the show has portrayed him to be.

“They definitely showed him when he was emotional,” Boltz says, “but everybody knows Group Night and Hollywood Week every year bring out major emotions. It seemed like he would be emotional a lot, and that can send a message that he’s that way all the time. I don’t believe that. I think they just put things on there that are going to make an impact. Sometimes it can be true, sometimes it can give the wrong idea.

“I’m not going to judge him and says, ‘He’s very emotional.’ I believe he’s passionate about what he’s doing and he takes very seriously his opportunity to be there.”

Even so, I’m not sure any person who wears his emotions on his sleeve the way Nathaniel does can withstand the rigors of a full American Idol season. And though he’s had some impressive performances –- he was far and away the highlight of his Group Night group –- they haven’t compensated for the waterworks.

While I’m not sure I want to watch him for 12 more weeks, I can’t wait to see which Nathaniel Marshall shows up tonight. I’d love nothing more than to see him do so well that he makes his haters sweat.

Ok. So for all intensive purposes, Nathaniel Marshall is gay. And he sang a little-known song by a Christian singer named Ray Boltz, who has since come out as a gay man. So this MUST mean Marshall is Christian, right?

Hmmm…perhaps he just liked the song? Perhaps Marshall is one of the smartest 19-year-olds ever to make the semi-finals of this shit show?

His pre-Idol social networking profiles have him claiming he’s an atheist, yet he leads his rag-tag Hollywood Week group in a prayer — of course, he prefaced it with the fact he’s not really “good friends with God.”

By all indications, Marshall probably doesn’t really go to church or think much about religion. On, and he’s gay. Although no photos of him sensually kissing another male have yet to surface, Marshall is gay. And if you’re gay and on American Idol, the only hope you might have is to go with God. (We’ll see how well Adam Lambert does, although he could be just fine. After all, there are still Claymates who swear up and down their messiah is totally straight.)

And why not make a statement by singing a song from an out-and-proud Christian singer? As well as accessorize with a oversized cross and take advantage of a good camera opp involving a prayer circle. 

Personally, I just think Marshall knows what the public wants, and this year, it seems to be a Praise & Worship Idol

So is Nathaniel Marshall a card-carrying Jesus Lover? Probably not. But I really don’t care. Nor does it matter to me if he’s gay.

Although this season, I am all about bringing on the gay. And the gay Jew. And the possibly gay Puerto Rican. As well as the token black dude who took a cortisone shot in the ass. And the Hindu dude. Hell, even the tattooed Mormon chick is welcome alternative to a Top 12 filled with praise & worship leaders whose megachurch preachers are pimping for them via blogs and Twitter. Right now, the Top 12 is actually in need of affirmative action. 

But it is rather fascinating one of the biggest things the media has discussed about this season’s contestants are their religious affiliations [and / or sexuality]. And it almost seems as if these contestants’ evangelical churches are using Idol as a brand-new pulpit to increase their congregation size and collection bucket. 

The new format has made it quite evident as to who makes up Idol’s fanbase, i.e., lily white Frauen, but does it also prove the power of the fundie vote? Hell, we’ve already discovered freaks are praying about these kids’ musical selections. Right now, out of the six contestants who made it through, 4 are men, 3 of which are praise & worship leaders at their local megachurch. Obvious Wild Card contestants Matt Giraud and Ricky Braddy have already been touted by Christian bloggers for their beliefs. And if DialIdol indeed proves to be correct, Scott MacIntyre has also been voted in.

When it comes down to it, I just find this all very amusing. Although, I do think about the fact we are forced to hear some pretty bad music when watching this shit show. Does this mean a season heavy on indulgent “inspirational” ballads?

If Michael W. Smith or Amy Grant even show up as a mentor, I am so done.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. cmp permalink
    July 12, 2009 12:29 am

    Sorry to hear that ray Boltz-a very talented man, gave up talent to glorify Jesus, for sodomy and self.
    I judge him not; I am praying for you Ray-return to your first love-Jesus Christ.
    We are eternal souls. If you want to know if He loves you, just ask Jesus into your heart and repent
    from being that sinner that He loved enough to die for.
    In His Constraint

  2. March 5, 2009 12:24 am

    hey man thanks for the bump (even if it is only satirical)…we are proud to highlight the contestants of faith in this years AI. Our site focuses on music of faith from places that most people don’t look, so a cut-throat, low substance show like AI is right up our ally. Danny will survive for sure due to his background…worship leaders at churches know the pressures of learning , practicing, arranging, practicing they will not bend to the pressure in the same way the others will…
    God Bless
    Ian from the One21 Music

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