Tom Beaudoin on Rock n Theology

Check out this lively and free-wheeling interview with Tom Beaudoin (one of our esteemed bloggers) on the 20something blog "Millennial Catholic," on the theological underpinnings of rock (and, you could say, the rockological underpinnings of theology) complete with clips from some cool rock videos.  An excerpt:

Mike: Wilco is one of my favorite bands, and I’ve always experienced a deep connection with something bigger than myself at their live shows. Then I checked out frontman Jeff Tweedy’s solo concert DVD, and during an offstage interview, he said this: “There’s a collective experience happening at a rock concert that I’ve always assumed would probably be what church should be like.” It’s not fair to the uniqueness of the liturgy (or to that of rock concerts, perhaps) to simply equate them, but the collectivity going on in both seems to embody a common human yearning that stands up to the West’s cult of individualism. Have you had similar experiences at, say, a good show and a good liturgy? A vivid sacramental imagination – being able to see God coming to us in everyday stuff like bread, wine, and three-chord rock songs – seems to come in handy at both.


Tom: I like how your first question goes right to theological experience, and we could take hours parsing the potentially relevant ways into this question from various theological and rockish perspectives, but I’ll be brief in each of these replies. Yes, I do acknowledge a deep consanguinity between secular concerts and Catholic liturgies. The language you use hints at a sort of shared transcendence, a communal sense of the gift quality of existence and the surprising recognition of “what is,” and many who find masses and concerts meaningful use similar language to describe their deep appeal. I might also add that many also describe this overlapping space not only in terms of a shared experience at the event, but a deep ethical formation through such events, over time, that makes them a better human being. That’s very important from the best theological and rockish perspectives. This, however, is not the end but the beginning of a theological analysis of the relationship between liturgy and concert.

Read the whole interview here.

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7 years 6 months ago
I'm not sure what I think about all this, but my first reaction was, "Oh, wow, man."

As one who looks for the practical aspects of such study, I was thinking about how as a kid I always liked the ringing of the bells in mass when the priest raised the host and chalice (yes, "chalice!", but I digress).  And I thought, how cool would it be, and how better suited to the miracle it would be if they replaced the bells with some blazing pyrotechnics, maybe accomompanied by a wailing Pete Townshend windmill chord.  Maybe that would draw some of the 20-somethings to church.

Loved the intereview, a mind opener; thanks for posting.  Rock on, Jesus. 
7 years 6 months ago
David -

Nah, most of we boomers don't look at rock music as a religious experience.  If I'm undertanding correctly what Mr. Beaudoin is proposing, it's that there are many parallels that one can draw between religion and rock music, including such things as the effect of lyrics on how listeners act and think, the gathering of the masses at rock concerts and their glorification of the performers, the mysticism of the pyrotechnics and costumes (think incense and purple robes in chruch).  And certainly there are at least a few who believe that Jim Morrison was God. 

More of an academic exercise than the belief that rock-and-roll is a religion. 


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