A series of words caught my eye on the cover of the March/April issue of Relevant Magazine: "God. Life. Progressive Culture" (the pub's tagline).... "2006 Spring Music Guide." Mentally naming as many Christian bands as possible (Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, Sixpence None the Richer, Creed, Ok. Scratch Creed.), I left my local bookstore with an overworked brain and Relevant in my hand.

The note from Editor and Publisher Cameron Strang immediately told me that Relevant is a magazine for young, liberal, technologically savvy (there are ads informing me how to get God on my iPod) and spiritually seeking individuals. Strang opined on the stereotypical view of Christianity: "I'm tired of being clumped in with stereotypical, suburban, materialistic Christianity." Translated: I get the hebee jebees when I see Pat Robertson on TV, too. Strang named Robertson and a certain leader as examples of how one side of Christianity (conservative) becomes the template for how all Christians are portrayed.

The front of the book, called Relevant Slices, drew me in with clichéd headlines such as "Thou Shalt Watch ABC" and "Does Jesus Really Rock?," then shot to musician blurbs and useless reader polls, and ended with a serious column about how to change society's perception of Christians. Writer John Fischer said it best: be respectable human beings first, and Christians second.

There's also a column by a newly divorced man who wrote about the difficulties of going through a divorce and having a "community" of support rallying around him.

The magazine hits a snag on a story about battling through depression. The story dealt less with faith and more about dealing with the disease, and would have fit better in the pages of Prevention.

I enjoyed the interview with Anne Rice, the author who now writes about God, not vampires. Contrary to what I've read in previous articles, Rice says her spiritual metamorphosis was not brought on by her husband's death; rather, it occurred beforehand.

The cover story on what happened to Sixpence None the Richer (record label drama) did not disappoint, but the 2006 Spring Music Preview did.

I was expecting a list of upcoming albums to be released, along with an occasional blurb, but what I found was a write-up on trends to expect. Guess what? There are other European bands that sound like Coldplay that are gaining an American fan base. Canadian bands not named Nickelback or Barenaked Ladies are emerging as artists on the rise. I feel misled.

The magazine did follow up with small snippets on many up-and-coming artists, which I clearly enjoyed more than the 2006 Spring Music Preview.

The magazine concludes with a boatload of music reviews, and a convenient chart rating the albums based on lyrics, music, and spiritual content.

Overall, Relevant has fallen off its editorial path: articles didn't mesh well with one another, segues from fun to serious content were awkward, and some of the stories were poorly suited for the publication. The magazine's intentions, however, remain right on track: be good to yourself, be good to others, and most important, don't force your religious and spiritual views onto others.

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