Crossbread is Australia’s best ever Christian hip-hop band – and they’re not even Christians.
No, that’s not a depressing headline from the real world of Christian music. It’s the premise of a new six-part comedy podcast series from ABC Radio. Yes, the ABC has backed a satirical show about false Christianity.
“You can’t have Christmas, without the Christ; It’s like filling your esky without any ice.”
Before you eye roll, smirk or sigh, hear this: Crossbread is a surprisingly sharp series which doesn’t exist to destroy or mock Christians. At least, that’s how I’m hearing it – as a Christian guy who likes hip hop and doesn’t like false prophets.
Instead, aside from hoping you will laugh or wince, this mockumentary account of the ascension of Crossbread (rapper Josh and his twin sister, singer Joan) seems to want us to think a bit about what we live for. That is, what we say we live for and, if we’re faking it, and what the cost is to ourselves and others.
Word of warning: Crossbread the series is chockers with bad language and an irreverence for the things Christians hold dear. And, while I always find it challenging when someone doesn’t present God, Jesus or the Bible in the way I think all three clearly cast themselves, I am still intrigued by how others depict them.
Crossbread was baked by popular singer Washington (full name: Megan Washington), and comedy writers and performers Chris Ryan and Declan Fay. I’m going to catch up next week with Chris Ryan who, like his Crossbread co-creators, grew up going to church and being in the band.
Basically, I want to ask Chris why they did it. Why choose a fake Christian hip-hop band, and the universe of Christian culture, as material for a comedy podcast? I could understand it more if Crossbread was mocking my faith or what’s at the heart of it. I’m not saying I’d like someone to do that; rather, that’s the kind of satire I expected. Kicks in the guts and hammering nails in sacred wounds. But I’m not getting that from this radio play about boofhead Josh loving the blessed limelight while sister Joan loathes her lies so much she swills communion wine.
For example, take the third episode, “Water into Wine“. With Josh (played by Ryan) and Joan (Washington) on the rise, supported by cool minister “The Rev” (Australian acting royalty John Waters), it’s time for a Christmas concert. The Crossbread troupe drops its new track – CrossMass.
Among the bogan block party rhymes of CrossMass, Josh hollers :”Because you can’t have Christmas, without the Christ; It’s like filling your esky without any ice.” And on he goes, before Joan chimes in with “It’s Christmas in Australia and Jesus Christ is coming over; Grab him a beer and a plate of pavlova.”
The ocker references to God’s beloved Son might not be your bag, but you should still get some sense of how Crossbread contains a high level of accurate or, at least, not grossly inaccurate nods to Christian truth. From the band’s name (consciously combining the symbols of Jesus as bread from heaven and the crucified saviour) to the Rev’s cool convictions, Christianity isn’t bagged or scorned. Sure, Crossbread tends to present young Christians as naive or wanton dags, but there is love for and respect of the community being used as a comedy backdrop.
“The Bible might be the greatest story ever told. But this could easily be the second or third best,” says Crossbread of itself. I say it’s not nearly as offensive as I expected, and presents an excellent opportunity to humorously consider what you live for. Do you believe it? If you don’t, maybe you should reconsider? Especially if it is something with the spiritual significance of Jesus and the salvation he offers – and you have influence over others.