Electric guitars and Church...

Discussion in 'Art & Culture' started by Seattle, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    What are two things that don't seem to go together? Being interested in music, playing the guitar, joining a band, gigging out and Church just seems like an odd pairing.

    What teenage kid who is into playing the guitar is into playing the guitar at Church? Yet, it seems to be common on guitar forums. It seems to be more popular than going to Church. I don't know many people who actually go to church anymore but there are plenty of people who are into guitars and are also a member of their church "Worship Band".

    Doesn't anyone else find this odd. This reminds me of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra trying to play Beatles music...just not a good fit.
     
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I attended church (Wesley United) for many years as an adult. The minister was a guitar player (as well as a washboard, gutbucket and rainstick), and the sermons were more folk singing than anything else.

    This was the reason I attended for so many years. It was a very informal, inclusive and very social environment, and carried through to weekend parties and such.
     
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Just goes to show how musical taste is a very individual thing. I was brought up on classical music and sang in the school choir, so as far as church music goes I am firmly in the English choral tradition. As a result I detest guitar music in church - makes my toes curl with embarrassment. But indeed, some like it. At our local Catholic church they cater for both: 11a.m. sung mass with Gregorian chant, traditional hymns and a 4-part motet (a cappella or with organ accompaniment) at Communion, while the 9:30 "Family Mass" has guitars and a piano.

    Regarding the approach of priests or ministers, my teenage son says there is nothing more embarrassing than one who tries to "get dahn wiv ve kids". It never works. But if he or she is a real musician, then they can get a lot of respect for that.

    As a general observation it seems to me that music plays an underestimated role in religious observance. If you look at history and see the enormous amount of devotional or religious music that has been written, it is mind-boggling. I imagine it is because music appeals to the human mind in such a deep, non-verbal way.
     
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  7. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    I'll try starting here: There is a South Park episode, "Faith Plus One", in which Cartman, Butters, and Token form a Christian pop band; along the way there is a joke about the song lyrics Cartman is using, which are actually other pop songs with the word "Jesus" in place of other terms of endearment, when a record executive says something about not being able to tell whether Cartman loves Jesus or is in love with Jesus; and while I cannot promise you for certain what Parker and Stone meant, one song stands out, exemplary above all others, "Calling on You"↱, by Stryper.


    Meanwhile, I would also note that as many young Christian musicians tried their hands through the Eighties and Nineties, an older generation of rocker was falling away from the road and landing in the loving arms of Christ. There was a drummer at a church in Salem, Oregon, when I lived there twenty-some years ago; and before that a prominent Christianist anti-rock critic of my time was a former ... rock DJ, I think ... it isn't mentioned in his Focus on the Family bio ... spent some time in the late Eighties and early Nineties campaigning against rock shows, but, yeah, a lot of these guys end up gigging in churches. That phenomenon has had decades to root and grow.

    And even more, there is in the range of what we would describe as black churches in America a powerful gospel and soul tradition that runs straight through funk, and in that history of those churches electric guitars have turned up very nearly since electric guitars have existed. And in the age of American televangelism, all the more so.

    Jabari Johnson↱, for instance.


    That's actually a pretty powerful moment for a lot of those people. Comparatively, there are occasionally problems with trying too hard↱ in church.


    Mostly, it comes down to whatever anyone does with it. Like, whatever I might figure out to say about that synth drummer apparently out of the Seattle, the breakdancing televangelists↱ ... I mean ... o! dear God!


    There is a dumb old joke for Jesuit Novices explaining that you give a short sermon, six minutes, unto God; if you take longer, the next six minutes are for yourself, and you really ought to know better; and, well, the next six ....

    It comes down to whatever anyone does with it. If Jabari Johnson and that crew, for instance, can get the congregation up and singing hosannas long enough, they verge toward transcendent faith, and, really, that would be a better evangelical outcome in my society than the current iteration. No, really, keep them repeating that chorus for a half hour. Meanwhile, the breakdancing televangelists is an historical marker; I can't quite describe everything that comes together in that one, but it's an example so much wrong about televangelism and large-scale popular ministry.

    And as much as we might react to those problems, it's also true we can find in church music↱ some of those things we don't usually understand when criticizing religious faith from outside. Filed under, so what if it's church, is the fact that I recognize the other components of the joy and communal solidarity these people are experiencing together.


    The instrument of God's instrument is subject to frail and mortal hand. I think the Alpha and Omega can afford to endure some rockin' racket from time to time, and as I understand it, He knows what is in one's heart, so if the breakdancing itself is necessarily forgivable according to John 3.16, it's still possible they might need to answer for their motives, but that's between them and God.

    And we all know the hosannas count for something, regardless of whether or not there is a God to wallow in them; it's all in what anyone does with them.
     
  9. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Some churches are big on singin... layin on of hands... snake handlin/poison drankin or exorcisms to help draw a crowd... an if i wasnt interested in goin to church but i liked to play a guitar... id be more likely to go to church to get the opporitunity to perform for an audience... which might draw a bigger tithes payin crowd... so its a win win for all concerned.!!!
    Some churches dont allow Instrumental Music durin the service cause ther God dont like it... but its fine at my church (NACA)!!!
     
  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    If someone isn't interested in going to church, I can't see why they would be interesting in playing "church music". Sure some of it sounds like standard rock music except for the gag inducing words and of course having to look up at the ceiling every now and then.
     
  11. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    If i was a half-Azzed beleiver an pressured into goin to church… it woud be less hellish wit the diversion of entertainment… an even be a part of that entertainment if it involves a hobby i like.!!!

    A good magic show... even if its Jesus-themed woud make a hellfire-an-brimstone church less tortuous.!!!
     
  12. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

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    Being an atheist and a Buddhist, I don't think I could get into that no matter what. Fun factoid: much of that 'church music' was stolen from the popular genre and re-written to fit the church fables.

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  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I am dubious of this.
     
  14. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    When I was a teenager (1970's) I played electric guitar for many of our youth choir presentations. So it's not really anything new.

    When I was is college majoring in music, most of my classmates were musicians at their church. I was one of the few interested in getting out and playing clubs.
     
  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    You would if you enjoyed classical music.

    A vast amount of that is church music and enjoyed by musicians of all varieties of belief or otherwise. I should think that well over half of all the choral music ever written is religious.
     
  16. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I enjoy classical music. I don't enjoy mouthing praise to God.
     
  17. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Curiously:
    My beloved spouse is a drummer in her church band. The pastor plays an electric guitar. There are 5 to 8 in the church band. They sing, and play and pray and praise their lord.
     
  18. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Does that mean you don't like religious classical music: masses, requiems, religious cantatas, Handel's Messiah, etc? What a pity.
     
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Beethoven's Ode to Joy is out too. One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.
     
  20. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    No, it doesn't mean that.
     
  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    That's a relief!

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  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    It's the only opportunity many people have to sing out loud with other people, especially before they are any good at singing.

    Most church music goes better if you don't follow the words - but that's true of written and formal music generally. Take the libretto of the average opera - please.

    The appropriation of all forms of "community association" (partying) - singing, dancing, storytelling, common voluntary endeavor - by the church can be seen as a standard political power play. My central objection is the absence of gratitude - the church does not thank the originators, does not welcome the sources, of the culture it has appropriated. As with authoritarian institutions from ever, its relations with the unruly sources of its power are uneasy, partial, and prone to ugliness.
     
  23. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    This notion of "cultural appropriation" is quite amusing to someone with a European perspective. In Europe, we are well aware that it was the church that created much of the culture in the first place. That is indisputably true of music for instance.
     

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