Toby Jones, pastor and rock ‘n’ roller, strikes a profound chord with readers in The Gospel According to Rock. A Princeton-trained theologian, Jones has taught writing and poetry at top prep schools and currently writes rock reviews for national magazines. Jones blends music into a spiritual message for the reader.
The reader is invited on a journey and transported through time to important moments when music signified the climate of the times and spoke a message. One walks hand in hand with lyrics of great artists such as, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, The Beatles, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Joni Mitchell, to name a few. Jones’ passion for music is obvious; indirectly, he encourages one to look beyond the sound of the music to the heart of the story within a song.
Given that many musicians have been given a bad rap as “wild, carefree and reckless,” The Gospel According to Rock raises awareness of positive actions that rock ‘n’ rollers perform. Jones points out that many humanitarian efforts are driven by musical artists from the world of rock. Environmental achievements occur because rock musicians invest in the planet. You could say that his book engenders a newfound respect for musical artists. As indicated “on July 7, 2007, rock-n-rollers united 2 billion people from 7 continents to draw attention to the threat of global warming in their concert for the planet, ‘Live Earth.’”
Jones hopes to encourage participation of parents with teenagers in listening together to music; too many times, rock music can be misunderstood. The reader feels a strong urge to crank up the tunes and to truly listen in lyrics that portray a meaningful message. In Jones’ case, rock music served as the basis for turning to God and becoming a pastor. Music can be spiritual and present an invocation. With his experience of “[e]ntering a dialogue with rock music, appropriating its truths as my own and even encountering God in it,” Jones aims to convince readers to open up their hearts to God with music as the backdrop.
Printed on 100% recycled paper, The Gospel According to Rock has distinctive appeal for the reader. Jones weaves his personal vignettes throughout the book as he describes his spiritual walk with rock music at the forefront. The song lyrics become repetitive by book’s end, however. I hope that this author will record his own life, an interesting circle of growth and a very positive message waiting to be sung.