Music Tuesdays: Event as Church

I’m about to start a series on Tuesdays which I hope will generate some conversation about the nature of music, and its capacity to speak to issues of faith, culture, and life. In many regards, this series has been a long time coming, especially in light of my personal inclination to believe that music is the most powerful communicator of the transcendent experience. And so it begins.

(This is the active video, but this one is better I think)
I’ve blogged before about this video, indeed about this song; however, in a recent conversation with some colleagues about the nature of the prophetic experience, the video resurfaced as a possible demonstration of how prophets learned to cultivate the voice of the sacred.
In many regards this video, or more particularly the phrase, “this is my church, this is where I heal my hurts,” begs one to question not only “what church is,” but “what part of church acts to heal the hurts of its participants”?
This is my church, this is our transcendent experience!
Faithless gathers crowds. Crowds not just hoping to hear music, but crowds of people looking for a transcendent communal experience. Crowds of individuals who come bearing the scars, the hopes, the visions, and the expectations of what is to come. Sure, the band calls them, but it is the experience of being together that really shapes them, binds them, and forms them.
In many ways this seems very different from what most people understand to be ‘church.’ For most, even most within the church, what church often becomes is less a gathering of people around a singular event, or communal experience of the transcendent, and more of a “isn’t it great to be together with our friends, our neighbors, those who care for us, really. It’s as if the church in many of its current expressions is less about being a transcendent event, and more about being a place of teaching and instruction, a proverbial sacramental classroom. Maybe this isn’t wrong, or at least not entirely, but it does beg to question: how does cognition heal one’s hurts?
Ironically, the song itself speaks of the difference between of the event experience as church and the more contemporary expressions of it. It declares, “this is my church..enemies becoming friends, when bitterness ends..for tonight, God is a DJ!” Or, even as he says in the above live version, “That’s right mate, our church; non-exclusive, all inclusive, that means everybody.” Be not mistaken though, what I am not saying is that to be church one must be both inclusive and concert-y. No, far from it!
Yet, one must ask is there a middle or bottom to all this conversation about ‘what church is’, and ‘how one’s hurts are healed by it.’ Of course some will want to say that church is not the place or function of where one gathers but is rather those who gather. In this way of seeing things, the church is those who call themselves followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Although, if the Faithless allegory is a true one, that God is a DJ, then somehow one can come to experience what it means to be church not by belief only (or in this case gathering in expectation of the event) but also by the way the event is experienced (that is what essence of the transcendence it brings). In this reasoning, the church is essentially not exclusively a gathering place, or the people, but the fluid interplay of both people’s expectations of an encounter and cathartic ritual or celebration; namely, church is that shared experience which can only be made possible by those who’ve gathered in a particular place and time from all places and times and those who facilitated the gathering.
At the end of the day, it may just be that there are transcendent experiences, and that there are gatherings of the church. But for anyone who has ever been to a Faithless, U2, Coldplay, or Grateful Dead show, its pretty hard to argue that what is going on isn’t church.
Experience. Be. Live.
Joshua
ps.
If God is a literal DJ, could Bono be his son?