Toss out the name Pat Boone as a question and you are likely to get any number of answers.
Certainly the most likely response is a reference to his decades in the music business, television and film, providing audiences with a traditional wholesome image while recording some of the most popular songs of his generation.
Another answer could be as a conservative evangelical, unyielding in his loyalty to the Bible.
The third, and newest answer, would be entrepreneur, launching a business venture at age 76 when even those who have spent a lifetime in show business would be content to stay out of the spotlight.
And in any of those cases, you would be correct.
When Boone launched his music career in the 1950s – complete with strings of hits in that decade and into the early 1960s – the main medium for listening to the latest tunes was the record player or whatever local radio stations played. It’s nearly impossible to make substantive comparisons between that era and today where MP3s and hand-picking what content you want from your favorite artists has become the new template.
In a telephone interview with Everyday Christian, Boone acknowledged the changes in form and, especially, substance.
As case in point, Boone pointed to the recent halftime show at Super Bowl XLV featuring the Black Eyed Peas, Usher and Guns ’n Roses guitarist Slash.
“It was a great spectacle at the halftime of the Super Bowl. The Black Eyed Peas and others who appeared are talented performers, but I found there was a nightmarish quality,” Boone said. “The young people of today are being absolutely brainwashed by the lyrics that promote immorality and are filled with profanity and lustful images. That takes you to movies and television.”
On the small screen, Boone lamented the success of the sitcom Two and a Half Men featuring the swinging single ways of Charlie Sheen’s character played out in front of his young nephew, particularly in light of Sheen’s well-publicized real world problems of cavorting with prostitutes and drug abuse. Boone also expressed discomfort with increased acceptance of openly gay and lesbian characters on network TV.
“Jesus said in the days of Noah of every man’s thought was evil continually,” Boone said. “I know I sound like a doomsday guy, but actually I’m very optimistic. A showdown is coming. It’s a harbinger of wonderful things to come with great change and salvation for those who are looking for the coming of the Lord, but it is an ominous sign for those who are rejecting and ignoring the Lord.”
Boone referred to Chapter 1 of Romans where Paul tells the earliest Christians that God will let humanity suffer in its on sin before passing judgment.
This literal biblical interpretation prompts Boone to reject suggestions that the Bible is merely filled with parables meant to be a guide to positive living and
“I’ve been asked a number of times by skeptical secular writers, ‘What do you want on your tombstone’ and I don’t expect to have one. I don’t give that any thought at all. I think I’m living in a time a great many of us, millions of us hopefully, are going to be lifted out of here in a wink of an eyelid before a most terrible tribulation falls on the Earth.”
As much controversy as Boone admits his remarks can engender – including among fellow Christians – he sees a bright spot from an entertainment standpoint in artists and the forefront of contemporary Christian music. He has a long background of creating albums of hymns and other Gospel music and appreciates the efforts of those carrying the torch today.
“I’m grateful for those using the language of the young people in modern musical techniques and melodies to communicate messages that are thoroughly biblical and Christian and moral,” Boone said. “When you look at the work of people like Stephen Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant and bands like DC Talk and the Newsboys, it’s absolutely laudable.
“So many kids today don’t go to church even if their parents claim to be Christians, and if they do go, they don’t relate to the traditional hymns. What is really smart is to have songs which sound like the songs they’d hear on the radio but are legitimately with Christian lyrics and contain moral messages.”
And while Boone may not be stepping into a recording studio at the moment, his professional ventures have taken a turn toward the start-up business route with the launch of Pat Boone All-American Meats. Working in tandem with Colorado businessman J.W. Roth, the mail-order meat company features a variety of cuts of steaks. But, most importantly to Boone, it has a component of giving 5 percent of sales to relief organizations. Most prominent among those is Mercy Corps, a well-established non-profit with global reach with roots from Boone and his wife Shirley.
“When we started this, we clicked because we had the idea that by offering good food to people who can then in turn can help others we were fulfilling an important need for ministry,” Boone said.