The irony is that Green Day, Nirvana, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, and Nine Inch Nails are all multi-platinum artists (that's right, even Primus--aka, the strangest band ever--had one platinum album and back to back gold albums in the 90s). Nirvana, Green Day, Metallica, and Red Hot Chili Peppers have each sold between 50-100 million albums (depending on whose count you trust). Garth Brooks, who was honored in 2008 as the highest selling country music artist of all time, has reportedly sold around 135 million albums. Just to put that into perspective, Michael Jackson is around 175 million including his Jackson 5 albums. That ranks him just behind the Beatles and Elvis on the all time album sales list.
The same sort of kids who made fun of me in the 90s are still around today. They shop at Hot Topic because JCPenney is "soooo mainstream." They probably don't realize that Hot Topic was sold to a major corporation in 2013 for $600 million while JCPenney has been losing money for years. Coincidentally, I got all of my clothes from JCPenney when I was growing up. Not because I thought it was cool, but because my dad worked there. In both cases (music and clothing), I was labeled "mainstream," when the fact of the matter was that I just didn't know any different. I wore what I had and listened to what my parents did. Life was simple, and it was good. That is, until I got labeled. From that point on, I was determined to be different. Even if my parents wouldn't let me buy albums with "explicit lyrics," I made sure to go by the music store and memorize the track listing on the back of the album. I would not get caught off guard again. You see, if you were able to correctly answer the first question (what kind of music do you listen to) then you had to answer another one to prove that you weren't a "poser." For example, if you said that you liked Nirvana, the follow up question would be, "What are your favorite songs by them?" If you said, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or "Come As You Are" (anything that was on the radio), then you were obviously not a true fan. So, when I went to the music store, I made sure to memorize the most obscure song titles that I could. I eventually began listening to bands that were truly underground and wearing clothes that no one thought were cool. No one was going to accuse me of being "mainstream." Can you say insecurity?
At this point, there are no doubt a few people wondering: "Am I on the wrong website? What on earth does this have to do with defending the Christian faith?" Well, there is actually an important lesson that I think needs to be learned by people who are involved in apologetics, philosophy, and theology. The term "mainstream" is slippery and unnecessarily divisive. Young people in particular who get interested in apologetics/theology/philosophy (or any group that fancies itself to be hipper than thou) are likely to view the broader Christian community as "sooo mainstream." And they may have valid reasons. But the solution isn't to write people off by labeling them. The fact of the matter is that the majority of people in the "mainstream" Christian community just don't know any different. The goal shouldn't be to abolish the old "mainstream" way and replace it with our new "non-mainstream" way. What would that really accomplish? It would just ultimately make our way of doing things mainstream. If I have learned anything in 30 years, it is that my way is not always the best way. What is more, I think that attitude is a major reason there is such a divide between the apologetics/theology/philosophy community and the broader Christian community. Sure, we might be able to "pick off" a few insecure stragglers that don't want to be labeled "mainstream," but the result will be a culture of division, not transformation. The goal should not be to start our own groups and shake our heads as the "mainstream" groups flounder; rather, it should be to serve the Church universal with the things we are passionate about. Our desire should be for stronger, better equipped mainstream, not a weaker, dying one to feed own sense of elitism. If you are a mature belie