Archive for the ‘sociology’ Category

Bending Time

On the philosophic side of art I am fascinated with attempts by artists who wrestle with the subject of time through lyrics, images, plots, and sounds. A most recent example is Inception, starring Leonardo Dicaprio. In this film time-benders enter the subconscious of a victim to bend future events. The film wreaks of Huxley with drug-induced states being the modus operandi for accessing subconscious networks (note Dicaprio’s latest adventure literally with a Huxley text) .

Among musical examples, two of the most artistic/philosophic offerings are Windmills of the Mind by Michael Legrand and Time by Pink Floyd.

In Windmills of the Mind time is described as a series of never ending circles. As the lyrics become more personal toward the end of the song, referencing specific relational experiences, the theme returns to the overwhelming wheels of time that swallow the details. The song certainly embodies  melancholy longing, a salient example of the end-game for secular materialists. Interesting, but a gnawing soulish hunger accompanies the lyrics–no doubt, a bleak eternity even without Dante’s Infirno.

Pink Floyd both bends time in Time and deals with time philosophically. The writers remind us that living through time more than anything proves the timelessness of time. I would say between the two examples, Pink Floyd is perhaps a little closer to the truth, though not much closer when actually measured against Truth.

These explorations with time do little more than the much older artistic experiments with time in Indian Raga. With the Raga, the sitar player places the listener in a dreamy trance like state, only to be followed by the conqueror of time, the tabla player. Tabla players are the real mathematicians of the world, dividing time with sound in complex macro and micro phrases.

But what is one left with in these various versions of the Eastern art of allure. What one is left with is the desire to dive into the art, like the feeling you get when looking at the multitude of colors in a tropical aquarium.

I fear that some of our worship attendees are doing little more than the rock listener who dives into  Pink Floyd. Let me be the first to say as a worship leader that we must explain in a very sober manner the meaning of rich poetry. Rich art needs constant commentary and explanation. When the art becomes too rich with no one to rescue the culture the philosophers will enter the room in one way or another. In Greece clarifiers of complexity entered as philosophers as the Greek tragedy was spinning out of control.

I would suggest C. S. Lewis (quote from Weight of Glory below under comment) as a guide for understanding time. In the great divorce Lewis explores time and concludes that eternity is firmly planted in the heart of man, and humans feel a strange comfort with a sense of eternity. This strange comfort is a pointer toward the state of being for which humans were originally intended. But the point of the longing is for one to recognize the need for Christ. In receiving Him, in fellowshipping with Him, the sense of timelessness reaches its fulfillment.

Original Song by Phillip Townsend (Atl student at New Orleans Baptist Seminary)

Here is a song I wrote and recorded a few years back. It may or may not suit your palette:

http://www.youtube.com/philliptowns#p/c/4285132B09028F8B/0/HB3c6ygwY5g

Media culture in worship

Churches who have been using movie clips without permission may be relieved by a recent decision of the courts (see below). But the deeper issue is the appropriateness of certain clips for worship. This site is devoted to the ongoing debate regarding how the desire for purity in worship should be balanced with a desire for cultural relevance. What should be the guidelines for  the use of secular media in worship?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ytech_wguy/20100726/tc_ytech_wguy/ytech_wguy_tc3236_2

“Relevance versus Reverance”

Ed Stetzer and Mike Harlan presented an excellent discussion that relates directly to the topic at hand: incarnation of worship (http://vimeo.com/6415170). I am particularly impressed with Stetzer’s suggestion that we exegete a community before trying to force our worship preferences on a particular church. If worship leaders(music or otherwise) would adopt this model, we would see far fewer splits in churches. Let us know what you think about this dialogue–feel free to reference specific sections of the interview as that will encourage others to view the video themselves.

How Do We Define Success

How do we define success in worship leadership? The highest standard of artistic influence according to one of the leading creativity researchers in the world, Csiksentmilhayi, is artistic productivity that permanently changes culture. Although very few artists achieve this level of influence, in the world of worship leadership even this standard is not adequate. For example, Constantine certainly changed worship practices forever, but whether he was a good worship leader is quite debatable. Real worship will change the culture of a church and eventually a community, but how culture is changed and the nature of the change that occurs must be carefully evaluated before we label change as succesful.