Monday, March 02, 2015


The Sunday Service

CT carried an article a while back entitled "The Best Way to Use Music in Church." A snippet:
The Christian church has culturally cross-pollinated its worship for almost two millennia. Egeria, a fourth-century Spanish pilgrim, wrote an eyewitness account of worship practices in Jerusalem. Those practices became the basis for the emerging liturgical year. In the sixth century, after retaking the Italian peninsula from the Ostrogoths, Emperor Justinian appointed three popes. The result was "blended worship," a mix of East and West that brought the Hebrew Halleluia and the Greek Kyrie Eleison...
I have to be honest, I almost want to vomit when I read a sentence that uses the phrase "blended worship" in a sentence discussing Hebrew and Greek traditions. Talk about rewriting history! Note as well the confusion of the service with worship. Worship is a component of a church service, but it is not the sole reason for the service.

You want to really discuss history. The emphasis on preaching of the modern Protestant church arises out of the general spread of literacy. Ceremony, iconography, liturgy arose becasue in an essentially illiterate society, they were ways of driving home the ideas involved in Christianity. We moved away form them becasue people can read for themselves now.

And yet we live in a post-literate age. Young people communicate primarily in images - video, selfie, etc. They do not even communicate through music really. In this age of musical pursuit by style instead of radio programming. music is highly eclectic and less communicative than it is evocative. But studies show that young people prefer communicating in this manner becasue it allows them to fashion an image instead of be truly self-revelatory. These modes of communication are about keeping ones deepest self isolated from the outside world.

Historically, the liturgy with accompanying imagery and music, repeated as it was over and over and over again, reached people on deep soul-like levels. You cannot keep something you repeat so frequently "out there." It reaches into you through the sheer weight of the repetition.

It's not about culture, it's about changing lives and any discussion on the Sunday Service that is about cultural adaptation bothers me. It is asking the wrong questions. Of course it will adapt to culture, but not for culture's sake. The deeper must be preserved in the process.


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