For the third time this week, a blog link appeared in my inbox. It’s a scholarly review of contemporary worship music, and it’s here if you’re one of those people who likes getting the full context on discussions:
Well, because I have my own thesis gathering dust on this subject, and my friends like seeing the contents of my head, kind of like the surprise you get emptying the third drawer in the kitchen, I thought I’d oblige and write them a return blog post.
1. Blogpost or Press Release? Actually, it’s difficult to comment purely on this post, to be honest. There’s so little *said* in this article, it’s a press release about an impending academic publication. I wish someone had done a press release like this for my thesis, because when it was done, I stood there in my apartment alone thinking silent celebratory phrases. It was kind of a let down. In this author’s case however, Stanford university has hired some kind of publicist to let off party pops. Which brings to mind my second question…
2. Sacred Music just became Sexy?! … I know, right! There is an increasing trend of non-religious universities examining sacred music. This isn’t just a figment of my mind, in August I’m attending a conference at Oxford, with at least a third of the attendees being non-Christian scholars examining contemporary worship music. I’m slightly scared as to what type of person decides to propel themselves into this world?!
3. Why write about the secular properties of sacred music? Interestingly, these scholars seem to be loudly in unison decrying worship music as “commercialized”. Which is slightly weird. You can imagine a conversation at Ivy League institutions across the country “hey guys, we should totally study this whole Christian music thing because there’s nothing unique about it”. And the reply “Oh yeah totally dude! I’ll fund you to do that!!”. Look, I don’t think the commercialization of worship music is a newsflash to any Christian. You couldn’t have listened to Carmen rap his heart out in the 1980s, or accidentally yelled out DC Talk lyrics “I don’t want it, want it, I don’t want it, want your SEX FOR NOW!” in a public place in the 1990s (oh, whoops only me???!), or fist pumped the sky in 2003 at a Third Day album, and not have realized you were being sold something that wasn’t only about prayer and devotion. I dare you to do a quick run through any Christian bookshop as the WWJD wrist bands, bible commentaries, hair bands, and pink bibles leap from the wall like fluff to velcro while you attempt to lap shelves without a $200 bill appearing on your credit card…
4. Let’s be honest, to assert that people are going to church *because* or *despite* the fact it’s commercialized is kinda dumb. It would be far less difficult for us all to pop down to a shopping center, and watch ‘The Wiggles Live’. At times, it could even actually feel more fulfilling. But, Christians are not just mindless zombies driving off in their station wagons to be brainwashed into giving 10% of their income away each week. Oh Lord, if only. Because there are moments I want to stand up and yell “ALRIGHTY THEN! I guess we’re done for the day, everyone to the donut table!” Buuuut, I don’t.
This whole commercialized line has become a big thing for university scholars and so it ALSO creates an opportunity to bring up some important points that are little understood about scholarly research into worship, which I have grappled with now for many years. Which of course, will be my next blog post. So stay tuned.