This week in our theology and culture class we tried to tackle the state of the arts. After a bit on street art (go check out the exhibit at the downtown MOCA if you’re interested) the class wanted to dig into pop music and it inevitably became a conversation about how bad Christian pop music is. I find it really funny that whenever we introduce the subject of pop music the first questions from the class are usually about contemporary worship music and how to “redeem” pop music. I agree that most of contemporary Christian music leaves something to be desired but I don’t feel like we then need to reclaim or “redeem” so called secular music. Most pop songs are asking the same questions and seeking the same things that people of faith are… they just might not come down on the same answer.
Barry brought up that pop music often carries themes of alienation, isolation, dislocation and the need for connection… sounds a lot like Psalms and Ecclesiastes. Pop music speaks to the brokenness of the human condition and doesn’t try to give you a theological paradigm to explain it or make you feel better about it. Where we are sometime hesitant to question or express anger towards God in a faith setting, pop music most often allows for a space for honest expression.
On a side note, it’s always fun showing people how the whole contemporary christian worship experience comes the hippie culture and the split offs of psychedelic music. Psychedelic music split into psychedelic rock, progressive rock and country rock. Contemporary christian music come directly from the country rock movement of the 70s and the ecstatic nature of the hippies trying to reach the transcendent (often through the use of drugs). Anyhow, just check out these two photos; one is of people at a worship concert, the other is a group of hippies dancing… can you tell the difference?