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Ruminatio: Was Rock and Theology Inspired by 1970s Catholicism?

Posted in: Ruminatio by Tom Beaudoin on October 20, 2013

My earliest memories from my Catholic boyhood date to the mid-1970s, when I would have been about 6 years old. Dave Nantais’ recent post about Sr. Janet Mead and her rock and roll version of the “Our Father” prayer immediately sent me back to that era. I have vague but sure recollections of hearing and singing that arrangement of the song at mass in the ’70s.

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We also sang pop/rock-inflected hymns at “CCD” (religion classes during the week), and during retreats or other youth programs. There seemed to be a fair amount of theater/drama in our religious education, too. We could act out Bible-inspired skits or use primitive video cameras to record our own “commercials” (I did one for “Jesus Adds Life” as a riff on the commercial jingle “Coke Adds Life,” and I pray that it never finds its way to YouTube).

My friends and I were both pious and irreverent at once. We prayed the prayers, received our sacraments, and respected our authorities, and I never once — not once — bothered to wonder whether there was any other or better route to God for me or anyone else than the Catholic road. I joined many friends in being a good altar boy for several years, and taking pride in excelling at it. But we were also at the same time being drawn into a world whose contours we could not fathom at the time: rock and roll — and its related allures, real and imagined: sex, the occult, “other” religions, hedonism, the musical life, and general untetheredness. As far as I can remember, we rarely saw any substantial conflict between being Catholic and loving popular (more…)