- From the Vault
- Guest Entries
- Is This The New Face of Religion?
- Is This The New Face of Rock?
- Music and the Brain
- Musical Performance
- News Items
- Recommended Reading
- Rock and Theology Project
- Secular Liturgies
- Somatica Divina
- Theological Production
- Andy Edwards (12)
- Christian Scharen (12)
- Daniel White Hodge (12)
- David Dault (18)
- David Nantais (77)
- Gina Messina-Dysert (10)
- Henry Lowell Carrigan (2)
- Ian Fowles (1)
- Jeffrey Keuss (15)
- Jennifer Otter (9)
- Loye Ashton (2)
- Maeve Heaney (10)
- Mary McDonough (99)
- Michael Iafrate (76)
- Myles Werntz (1)
- Natalie Weaver (11)
- Rachel Bundang (4)
- Tom Beaudoin (777)
- “As if it is part of my body”: On the Spiritual Significance of the Body and/as Instrument(s)
- For the Love of the All (the All of You)
- “In the Arms of the Angel”: Music and Evangelization
- From “Mission” to “Dialogue” in Theological Appreciation of Music
- From the Vault: “Practices That Are Most Always a Good Idea”
- Dave Nantais on From “Mission” to “Dialogue” in Theological Appreciation of Music
- Dave Nantais on Death (the Detroit punk band) finds new life
- Janet Sassi on Mark Frickey, RIP
- Dave Nantais on Death (the Detroit punk band) finds new life
- T Beaudoin on Death (the Detroit punk band) finds new life
- Bruce Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball" Faith vs. Evangelical Certainty
- Hungry like the Wolf: What This Blog Is Doing Here
- Is it Weird to Pray for Rock Stars?
- Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door: What Makes Music “Sacred”?
- Rock as "Interruption" and Bearer of Dangerous Memories
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
Posted in: General,News Items,Protest by Tom Beaudoin on May 3, 2012
On Mayday, I was in the parks and streets of Manhattan for #M1GS, the May 1st General Strike, a daylong gathering called by a coalition of dozens of labor organizations. Like many, I was there under many motivations: as a participant in Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Faith NYC, as a member of the labor union and advocacy organization the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and as a theologian. I joined tens of thousands in New York City and around the country, and hundreds of thousands around the world. I noticed workers of all kinds, labor union members, Occupiers, community organizers, seasoned activists, first-time participants, and all manner of allies who cheered us on from the sidewalks, fire escapes, and opened windows in the tall buildings along the march route.
There were apparently a few dozen arrests, though I did not personally see any over the course of seven hours. (Nor could I afford to get too close if things got too hot, because I needed to be free to teach the next day.) I arrived in the early afternoon at Bryant Park to find a thousand or so people getting warmed up with teach-ins, leafletting, conversations, sign-making, and picture-taking. There were also dozens of people carrying guitars (and a few basses and banjos), rehearsing for the Occupy Guitarmy, an all-volunteer guitar ensemble led by renowned rock guitarist Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine and now The Nightwatchman.
I was concerned because I thought that a thousand or so people would be a poor turnout for such a hyped-up event as this General Strike. But things changed quickly.
Around 2:00, we began marching to Union Square Park, and arrived there about 75 minutes later. As we marched, more people began joining in, and by the time we go to Union Square, there were many thousands more waiting for us. And people kept streaming in from all sides for the next couple hours. Tom Morello and a contingent from the Occupy Guitarmy played a few songs…
(Note: video contains a few obscenities, heartily sung)
…there were brief speeches about solidarity and economic justice from people representing different labor organizations, and there was plenty of Latin music to aerate everyone’s spirits in preparation for the long march to Wall Street.
A couple dozen members of Occupy Faith NYC gathered near the Gandhi statue in the park, where I joined them, and around 5:30 we began to move in a march with some 30,000+ people down Broadway all the way to lower Manhattan, a slow journey that took some three hours.
As the thousands of different banners, placards, signs, tattoos, shirts, headgear, songs and chants avowed, there was no single reason for being there, but I think it is fair to say that a great many of those gathered could endorse two basic theological statements: negatively, the market is not God; positively,
Posted in: Christianity,General,News Items,Protest by Tom Beaudoin on April 10, 2012
Some R&T readers may be following this story about the Russian punk (Riot-Grrrl-inspired) band, Pussy Riot, and their February “punk prayer service” protest against Putin in a cathedral in Moscow, as a way of protesting (among other items) the close link between church and state of late in Russia. This is a rare example of a band staging a protest in a church. At least some of its members were jailed immediately and have not yet been released.
Here is some video apparently from the protest, where they apparently performed their song, “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Expel Putin!”
In many cultures, attempting to occupy a church for a political protest, especially one undertaken with electric guitars, conjures up a powerful symbolic conflict, with allegations of desecration and sacrilege not far behind. The exact contents of that symbolic conflict in Russia, I don’t know, but if it bears any resemblance to Western countries, it would have to do with an imaginary of self-assertion or aggression, license and sexuality on the one side, and an imaginary of peace, order, hierarchy, and respectability on the other.
R.E.M. announced today on their website that they will call it quits after 31 years together. R.E.M. was the band I got into obsessively in junior high and high school. They made me want to learn the guitar and to write songs, and they continued to inspire my music making in many ways through college and beyond. It would not be stretching it to say that they were “secular” spiritual directors for me at various points in my life. (I wrote a bit about meeting R.E.M.’s guitarist Peter Buck and about R.E.M. as spiritual directors here.)
Thanks for everything guys!
We are young despite the years / we are concern
We are hope despite the times
It’s time I had some time alone.
Here’s their debut single, “Radio Free Europe,” followed by a live version of the song. (more…)
Posted in: Christianity,News Items,Practices by Andy Edwards on September 10, 2011
Last week I posted that I was on my way to present a paper at a conference in Oxford on Christian Congregational Music. I’m happy to report that this was among the best conferences I’ve ever attended, in terms of an instant collegiality and the discovery of a confluence of interests among so many scholars who, until this past weekend, were strangers to one another. Some of them, I gather, are a part of a special interest group of the Society for Ethnomusicology devoted to “Sacred/Religious Music,” but there were many participants who, like me, came out of our own niche interests, whether academic or practical (or both). Fifty papers were delivered over the course of three days, ranging from Hungarian CCM (a distinctively counter-cultural & Catholic version of Christian pop/rock) to the corporate branding of Hillsong, from multicultural parades in Toronto to the theopolitics of Pentecostalist music in Haiti.
In the final “Looking Forward” roundtable, I was pleased that someone (and not me!) brought up this blog—and, in particular, the Somatica Divina series—as a helpful resource for reflecting upon the theme of embodiment in musical practices, a theme that emerged as predominant across many of our discussions.
Many presentations included video, often taken from fieldwork in congregations around the world. We discussed the varieties of gesture and what Barthes called “the grain of the voice,” as well as how congregations or various Christian subcultures employ musical practices to assert their (social, theological, political) identities both internally and externally.
Notable papers included the following:
- Monique Ingalls (University of Cambridge) and Gesa Hartje (Leuphana Universität Lüneberg) both pointed to Benedict Anderson’s theory of “imagined communities” as a helpful tool in interpreting the function of musical practices within Christian communities, particularly evangelical “praise & worship” music.
- Clive Marsh (University of Leicester) presented the results of a survey into how congregations listen to music—not just the words, but the actual physicality of various soundscapes—and how they might learn to listen better.
- Anna Nekola (Denison University) presented a fascinating look at the print ads that emerged in the mid-90s for praise & worship music CDs, and how that marketing reflected and reinforced a hyper-Protestant bias toward the privatization of religion: they usually depict young women with headphones and eyes closed in bliss, or a serenely dark cockpit of a luxury car, with captions describing how one may be transported to heaven from anywhere on earth.
- Deborah Smith Pollard (University of Michigan-Dearborn) traced an illuminating genealogy of contemporary “praise & worship” music to its roots in distinctive practices within Black Churches, deconstructing several assumptions about that genre.
- Kinga Povedák (University of Szeged) presented her study of Contemporary Catholic Music as it emerged in communist Hungary as a counter-cultural voice of gypsies and youth. This subculture fought on two fronts, against both political powers and the Catholic hierarchy.
Of course this is just a sampling as I review my notes after returning home. With so many fine papers and subsequent discussion, it is difficult to truncate their collective value. I think of Kierkegaard’s cartographical argument against historicism here: the only accurate portrayal would be a map the size of the world, or a history that takes millenia to read! Indeed, it would take another three days to fully represent this event.
Finally, however, I must share two humorous comments that made a lasting impression:
- Britney Spears is a perfect anagram of Presbyterian; think about it. (Martyn Percy, Ripon College Cuddeson)
- King’s College Cambridge Choir has done for parish choirs what Barbie has done for women. (June Boyce-Tillmann, University of Winchester)
I hope to further explore this latter comment, however, as the question of musical “perfection” is an issue of particular interest.
Posted in: Basswork,Christianity,General,Musical Performance,News Items by Tom Beaudoin on September 6, 2011
My local newspaper, the Rivertowns Enterprise, had an interesting story this weekend about a new venture being organized by John Patitucci and some (church) friends. Patitucci is a world-renowed bass player, known perhaps most for his work with Chick Corea and for the music he makes with the Wayne Shorter Quartet and his own John Patitucci Quartet.
He is apparently a neighbor, though I have yet to see him around town. The article, by Ann Van Buren, is titled “Grammy Winner at the Altar of Justice, Mercy, and Music.” With his wife, the cellist Sachi Patitucci and some colleagues, he is starting up the “Trinity Rivertowns Fellowship” in our village, and will play an inaugural show this Saturday at 4pm at the First Reformed Church of Hastings to benefit Hastings Helps the Hungry. The article reports that Trinity Rivertowns is “an offshoot of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Rye, where Patitucci is an elder.”
Though the article is not entirely clear, it sounds to me like he is involved in some kind of new church planting exercise. He is quoted as saying that “The church is helping us launch a new thing. We want to be involved with the mission and service of community to build something, and start having services after that.”
I can only hope that this will mean Patitucci leads worship by playing “Jesus is On the Main Line” as a bass solo.
Sit down: Here is Patitucci with the Chick Corea “Akoustic” band.
And here is Patitucci giving a rock bass lesson:
Tommy Beaudoin, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
Posted in: Interviews,News Items,Recommended by Gina Messina-Dysert on July 18, 2011
While my summer was supposed to be focused on research and publishing, I ended up in the trenches in Hollywood promoting a new documentary called Dying to do Letterman (D2DL) – a film that follows the journey of comedian Steve Mazan who decides to chase his dream to perform stand up on The Late Show with David Letterman after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. How did this happen? Well, my brother Biagio Messina and sister-in-law Joke Fincioen (Joke Productions), produced and directed the film and Steve Mazan has become a close friend. Since signing on to help promote the movie, D2DL has been chosen to compete for an Academy Award® by the International Documentary Association, begun an on-going incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign to support its Oscar® dream, and continues to inspire audiences all over the country. It has been an amazing project to be involved with.
What does this have to do with Rock and Theology? Well, there is fantastic music in the film, as well as in the campaign videos, and trailer composed by Dave Pelman. The music heightens moments throughout the movie and contributes to the overall emotional experience of D2DL. So, I decided to contact Pelman and ask about his own background and how he managed to compose music that emoted so perfectly the overall message and experience of this documentary.
My conversation with Pelman was awe-inspiring to say the least. He described growing up in a family of musicians and feeling, for him, music is innate. Pelman said that it is clear that music is the only thing he is supposed to do in this life; it is his passion. He has been composing music for as long as he can remember and has an impressive list of films and television credits including Crash, Crazy Heart, The Soloist, and recently Dying to do Letterman.
Pelman stated when he was approached about composing music for D2DL he was immediately on board – Pelman was dying to emote Dying to do Letterman. When I asked how he went about composing music for D2DL, I was fascinated to hear about his process. According to Pelman, he sat with an instrument while watching the film and allowed his emotion to dictate the musical flow. He explained that while watching D2DL, “I was emotional and I got choked up…the moody, dramatic, atmospheric sound was drawn from my own emotional buttons.” Pelman went on to say that he has “always been emotionally
Here is an interesting article about a Fordham professor, Edgar Tyson, in the Graduate School of Social Service, who works on the therapeutic use of hip-hop with youth. As I read it, I thought that the parallels with how theology can engage hip-hop are obvious, starting from theology’s traditional commitment to care of souls, which places it so often next to social work, therapy, education, medicine, and other such disciplines and professions focused on the well-being of the person and the world. As the theological discipline of pastoral care and counseling has so often shown in its engagements with psychology, whoever is interested in the good life is a potential friend to theology. In that vein, Prof. Tyson’s work and the forthcoming book mentioned in the article, Therapeutic Uses of Rap and Hip-Hop (Routledge, 2011), may well be of interest to theologians.
Posted in: General,News Items,Politics by Mary McDonough on July 15, 2011
Recently my R&T colleague Michael Iafrate posted comments by an Irish activist group criticizing certain business decisions made by U2. You can read his post here. On July 7th, the Baltimore Sun published a letter by a federal employee named Simon Maroney criticizing Bono’s ONE campaign and accusing the band of moving their business to a tax haven in Holland in order to avoid taxes in Ireland. On July 12th the newspaper published the following letter written to them by The Edge in defense of his band’s business practices:
The recent letter to the editor entitled, “Senator Cardin’s affection for Bono’s foundation is indefensible,” (July 7) by Simon Moroney contains so many inaccuracies that it is pointless to attempt to correct them all.
But the most serious inaccuracy is the totally false and possibly libelous accusation that U2 and Bono have, by moving a part of their business activities to Holland, been involved in tax evasion.
For the record U2 and the individual band members have a totally clean record with every jurisdiction to which they are required to pay tax and have never been and will never be involved in tax evasion.
Contrary to what Mr. Moroney writes, Ireland is, thankfully, not bankrupt.
Had he bothered to contact the Irish Ministry of Finance, as did Spin magazine journalist Steve Kandrell for his March 25th 2009 feature on U2, he would have discovered that they have no problem with U2 basing some of their business activities in Holland.
“People complained at the time,” says Owen Durgan of the Ministry of Finance. “But we have companies moving here from the rest of the EU, so it all evens out. We wouldn’t make an issue of it.”
Furthermore, since he is a federal worker, it might interest Mr. Moroney to know that U2 and its members have paid many, many millions of dollars in taxes to the United States Internal Revenue Service over the years.
I hope that his fears of an Obama tax increase affecting him personally turn out to be as unfounded as his statements about U2′s tax affairs and Bono’s ONE campaign.
Posted in: News Items by Michael Iafrate on July 7, 2011
This just in, from The Onion:
NEW YORK—In a stunning reversal of their long-stated reluctance to take it, members of heavy-metal band Twisted Sister announced Monday that, after 24 years of fervent refusal, they are now willing to take it. “I acknowledge that we promised not to take it anymore, but things change. The world is a different place today, and with that in mind, we would like to go on record as saying that, starting right now, we are going to take it,” read a statement released by the band’s lead singer, Dee Snider. “To clarify, we would still prefer not to take it, but as of now, taking it is an option that we would be open to. That is all.” Bassist Mark “the Animal” Mendoza also stated that, in regards to what he wants to do with his life, he no longer solely wants to rock, but would instead prefer doing other things, such as raising a family and working as a claims adjuster in Rye, NY.
Posted in: News Items,Politics,Practices by Michael Iafrate on June 28, 2011
A group of Irish activists is criticizing U2 for avoiding taxation in Ireland by moving part of its business activities to the Netherlands. The group Art Uncut conducted a protest at U2′s set at the Glastonbury festival on June 24. The group’s founder, Philip Goff, writes:
In 2006 U2 Ltd moved most of its tax affairs to Holland, seemingly in response to the Irish government’s decision to cap the tax-free exemption on royalties at €225,000 (before this, artists in Ireland were not obliged to pay any tax on royalties). Our concern is that when individuals and corporations “shop around” different countries for the best tax deal, this puts pressure on governments all round the world to lower their tax rates, which results in an ever-dwindling proportion of profits going to governments to spend on schools, hospitals and public services. Given the financial difficulties in the group’s native country right now, any tax revenue denied to Ireland hurts badly.
The broader point of the protest was to raise awareness of the connection between tax ethics and development. Christian Aid estimates that $160bn, more than the global aid budget, is lost every year to the developing world from multinational tax dodging. It’s clear that if we’re serious about making developing countries richer, we need individuals and corporations to take a much more ethical and responsible approach to their tax affairs.
Art Uncut aims to bring about a culture shift, to create a world where people automatically and instinctively think about tax ethically. We’re not claiming that individuals have a duty to pay as much tax as possible. Rather each of us has a duty to think about tax in an ethical context, to ask questions such as: what’s my fair share? What do I owe to the country that paid for my healthcare and education? What’s the spirit as well as the letter of the law? What effect does how I arrange my tax affairs have on the globe?
The case of U2′s business practices raises important issues and questions for those thinking about rock and theology regarding the place of economics and music ethics in our theologies of rock as well as the possible dissonance between what rock artists say and what they do.
Michael J. Iafrate