amy grant, righteous fox (was: is this *the* jaci velasquez?)
Peter T. Chattaway
Apr 20, 2003 16:06 PDT
On Tue, 18 Mar 2003, The Voice Of Objective Truth wrote:
| ||Anyone remember that Door magazine article on Amy Grant and the quest|
for the "righteous fox"?
Remember it? I kept all the old messages discussing it and seeing Amy
I don't remember if anyone posted the actual article (can't find it in
Found it! Brings back weird high school memories, for me. Also weird
reading it now after that whole divorce-and-marriage-to-Vince-Gill thing
of a few years ago. From pages 28-30 of the May/June 1996 issue:
- - -
Sex, Amy Grant and the Quest for the Righteous Fox
By Mark Olsen
Almost a decade ago, riding a church bus back from the obligatory summer
choir trip, a friend turned to me and I heard these words for the first
time. "Hey, check out Amy Grant."
I slid the earphones off my head and wrinkled my nose. "Yeah, I know. That
folksy singer, the sincere one."
I'd heard about her, read some gracious reviews of her first few releases,
but my curiosity had never ignited. Her image seemed kind of limpid. And
then my friend handed me a copy of a Christian mag. There lay a full-color
picture of Amy, beckoning from the page.
"No. I mean, check her out. She's all right."
So I checked out Amy's picture. All of a sudden, my interest knew no
You have to understand. Back then, in the waning years of high school, my
church friends and I were the epitome of Contemporary Christian Youth. We
were the paradigm.
We would pray for our back-slidden acquaintances and then go watch them
perform at keg parties. We would scrutinize Pat Benatar and Styx albums
for signs of latent Christianity. We would agonize over the dearth of hot
guitar licks in so-called Christian rock. Then, having gratefully
discovered Phil Keaggy, we would play him to our unsaved friends, bending
towards the speakers with satisfied grins, watching eagerly for their
silent nods of approval.
All this is relevant. It's relevant because high atop this slightly
marginal, oddly acclimated Christian teenage-male subculture, towered the
seductive myth of the Righteous Fox.
Hovering languidly at the end of our frustratingly virtuous dating
rainbow, this beautiful and unsullied babe of legend had rejected the lure
of football jocks and fast cars and saved her beauty for an earnest
Bible-studier and choir-attender (who also happened to be cool, hip, and
into rock'n'roll) -- someone, of course, remarkably like us.
The Righteous Fox would be God's reward for having survived, for having
endured He know how many youth group videos on sexual purity, and the
saccharine, fifties-laced condescension of countless off-the-cuff pastors'
talks we endured. She was our revenge on those unsaved guys who'd nearly
convinced us we'd missed the action.
Reduced to its bare Quixotic core, the Quest for the Righteous Fox
consisted of a never-ending search for that really cool, deeply spiritual
chick who'd hung out with the guys just long enough to make every last one
-- except for ourselves -- overlook her blinding-yet-unobtrusive beauty.
(Pointing out once again the Quest's most delusional side-effect: The
Fallacy of Original Attraction.)
Only one problem though: true Righteous Foxes were (and still are)
incredibly hard to find. And nearly impossible to find before another
hard-scamming Christian dude discovered her first. Yet the fantasy
persisted. It invariably followed these exacting parameters: We and The
Fox would spot each other someday, eyeing each other soulfully over the
pages of our Bible study guides, knowing, with that mutual instinct borne
of fate, that we had found The One. We would ply her with a typically
Christian courtship, spent in the festive embrace of a youth or college
church group. Then finally, mere hours after a ceremony of Contemporary
Christian music interspersed with wedding vows, she would reward our years
of grudging virginity with the pure abandon of sanctified lust. (The best
kind of sex there is -- we _just knew_ it.)
"She's out there," we'd say. "Just waiting for me."
But for a while, we weren't so sure. The girls in our youth group ...
well, we didn't think they qualified, on account of the babe criterion.
Familiarity breeds ... well, you know. We caught fleeting glimpses of The
Righteous Fox at youth rallies, desperately scanning the crowds, pining
for another glance like Richard Dreyfuss in "American Graffiti". We spoke
longingly of the babe-laden youth group in the neighboring town. But she
never seemed to find her way into our lives.
That is, until Amy.
Amy made our blood boil; she burrowed into our imaginations and oppressed
our dreams. She made us gape shamelessly, as I did when I first saw in
person Amy's big doe-eyed sincerity, cascading brown hair and crooked
smile, and was smitten with the knowledge that God had finally epitomized
the Righteous Fox in human form.
Amazing thing though: along with the knowledge came the blazingly idiotic
notion that I alone had apprehended this miraculous insight.
But the idiocy didn't last long. Midway through my first Amy concert, I
looked down from the sight of her wafting one more song for Him and over
at my best friend Ted. I realized it was all over. Our eyes met and we
both knew, fresh from the eyes of our private fantasy, that this was no
bolt-from-a-blue-sky occurrence. The affliction was well-nigh universal,
shot through the heart of every glazed-over, slack-jawed Christian male in
the concert hall that night.
Her beauty wasn't -- quite -- what you'd call striking. It was different
than striking. Amy's appeal went much deeper than mere physical
perfection. And the sincere, profound beauty Amy manifested, she seemed --
no surprise to us -- unaware of. (She might cultivate her looks, but she'd
also -- somehow -- remain completely oblivious to them.)
If you were to go out with Amy, you could count on her not to cake on the
make-up. You could just tell. And a girl like her probably wouldn't kiss
you on the first date -- although she wouldn't make you wait much longer
either. (No gratuitous prudery in Amy's life.) And she'd never complain
about the flaking paint job on your car. You'd never innocently trust in
her character, then hear the guys report with leering tones on Monday
morning that she'd been spotted sneaking beers in the Dairy Queen parking
lot. No, you'd known where Amy'd been -- on a Youth Council retreat with a
gaggle of lesser companions, plotting hayrides and witnessing strategies.
And as for the premarital thing ... don't even think about it.
Man, did Gary Chapman ever shatter that pipe dream.
First, I heard she was engaged. Through my grief and dismay, I discerned
only a slight tarnish on my luminous Amy image. But some time later, I
heard the worst.
She'd gotten married. Worse yet, by the time I'd heard, the wedding had
actually taken place weeks before, meaning that -- barring some unlikely
scenario -- the union had most certainly been consummated. That hurt. Gary
had compelled Amy (through some unfair form of coercion, no doubt), to
say, "I do," to someone other than ourselves. The simultaneous dream of a
million young men vanished in one night.
And the ever-so-subtle sexual backlash began the very next day.
Amy didn't help, of course. Not only did she fail to keep the subject of
sex a secret, but she actually started intimating that she rather ... well
... enjoyed it. Stories started circulating of unsettling, injudicious
comments made to magazines and concert audiences. (Did she actually
mention "...getting our rocks off..." to Rolling Stone?) Certainly not
something "Jesus would say.")
I noticed the backlash myself beginning with Amy's first video. Ted could
hardly contain his indignation over one salacious sequence in which Amy
shed her jacket and the camera followed the garment -- apparently not
briskly enough -- down over the inflammatory regions of her body and to
the floor. "It's almost pornographic," he said. I watched it with him, and
saw nothing remotely lewd in the move. (Just the same, our eyes never left
the screen. We never blinked.)
Soon I started to notice a pattern. The guys were grumbling. The girls
were growing catty. I noticed, within my own dreams, a growing
dissatisfaction with my cherished mental-Amy-scenarios. My short-reel
romantic visions were falling off the sprocket before I could even begin
the date that inevitably followed our accidental back-stage,
love-at-first-sight meeting. All because of the interloper husband, whose
presence had transformed those visions from highly unlikely into now empty
fantasy. And also, quite frankly, because Amy was no longer a virgin. The
script had lost its appeal. The Righteous Fox had tumbled off our rainbow.
Then it got worse. Amy mutated from the soft-focus Vermeer-lit goddess of
the _Age to Age_ album cover into the leopard-skinned temptress of the
_Unguarded_ album jacket. The guitars started coming out of the shadows.
The drummer started using drumsticks. Finally, Amy seemed to have done
what everyone had feared so long: "Gone secular." And Amy "going secular"
gave our collective discomfort a channel for expression. We turned on her
with a vengeance.
It's been years, of course, since all this took place. And in that time,
many culturally plugged-in Christians have become aware of a fairly
pervasive, surprisingly virulent anti-Amy backlash. Most intelligently
assume that it stems from the dilemma surrounding whether a Christian
performer should dilute or reduce their religiosity to broaden a potential
audience. Again, the old debate over "going secular." In light of her
recent mega-stardom, it sounds logical.
Naah. It's about sex.
It's about this: she used to be ours, and now she isn't. She used to be
Contemporary Christian subculture's fresh, untouched, pretty young secret.
Then she gave herself away. First to a man, then to the unwashed masses
over in Adult Contemporary.
And now years later, many of us still haven't forgiven her. We haven't
forgiven Amy for getting married, for daring to admit that she is a sexual
being, for bearing children (lest we forget, the most glaring result of
carnal relations). Most of all, we've never forgiven her for not choosing
Among the women, many of whom appear to be the most strident Amy critics
of later years, I detect the venting of some long-repressed frustrations.
They're the "other girls" of our youth groups. The ones who saw the best
guys hold out for a dream; causing them to attend Valentine's banquets
with their little brothers. They're the ones the Quest left behind. The
girls who, somewhere between graduation and first summer back from
college, mysteriously acquired the mystery and allure we thought they'd
They're the women we married.
They don't make love every time with the ardor of twenty pent-up years,
and they don't "submit" quite as well as Marabel Morgan would recommend.
They don't spout spiritual wisdom every time they open their mouth. But
they're the ones who took us in after the Righteous Fox fell from grace.
Meanwhile, Amy seems to opt for surprisingly mundane activities back down
on the farm. Conceiving children. Bearing children. Raising children.
Hosting Bible studies. Mending a marriage. Keeping in touch with friends.
Sound familiar? Maybe a few years off that rainbow, the archetype turned
into -- gasp -- a real-life woman after all.
- - -
--- Peter T. Chattaway --------------------------- firstname.lastname@example.org ---
Nothing tells memories from ordinary moments; only afterwards do they
claim remembrance, on account of their scars. -- Chris Marker, La Jetee