Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion
posted at 5/15/2013 1:34 PM EDT
In response to yogafriend's comment:
In response to devildavid's comment:
But how do you feel about music with religious lyrics? Can you enjoy any type of religious music?
Let's put it this way: If I'd let religious lyrics or religious bias of any kind stand in my way of enjoying any particular music, let alone any of the arts, I would have not only missed out on some of the most astonishing works of art I've ever experienced, but I would not be the person that I am.
Does that answer your question?
A few examples: The Ave Maria is one of my favorite pieces of classical music; I love the Schubert and the Gounod, but recognize they're all exquisite. I love gospel music. Love the Lord's Prayer set to music (I remember learning it when I was in youth choir). Love the Prayer of St. Francis set to music (Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace...), and I'm not Catholic and don't believe in the saints (except when I lose something ...:) )
The AK song was a nice example, too, although not one of my faves. I did acquire an album that has a few too many religiously-oriented tracks (w/the Cox Family) that I never play. AK is on a Celtic women's CD that I have, where she sings, "Down to the River to Pray" (and old spiritual, if I'm not mistaken) and it's quite the thing.
The Pieta. The Madonna and Child depicted in many exquisite paintings. Churches. Stained glass windows, even if they depict religious scenes. Spending time at St. John the Divine when I lived in NYC, to hear the music and sit in the church b/c it was so beautiful. Reading CS Lewis. Learning Bible verses. Sacred music (to me, the earliest form of shoe-gazer music ... hahah). The list goes on. And I am not "religious" -- at least by my own personal definition; I doubt many would disagree me.
I completely understand where you're coming from. When I was young, I went on a religious retreat with my father. It was when I was still a believer, but it was worth it for two reasons. Any time spent with my Dad was time well spent. And I had my first exposure to Gregorian chant. I've loved it ever since.
I can also understand how listening to too many religious songs can also become tedious. But for me it's the emotional impact of the music that matters most, not the subject matter of the lyrics.
I try to keep a broad view of religion and the arts, and can see how people use and need them for emotional sustenance. I think it is a mistake to look at religion as simply a bunch of rules to follow. It can be that to some people, and to others it can be the purpose of their being. Just as music can be "mere" entertainment or something vitally important to our inner well-being.
I agree whole-heartedly on "Ave Maria". A beautiful, moving piece of music.
I'm not surprised by your take. Unfortunately, the word 'religion" is heavily charged for some and I've already gotten some emotional reactions that I was hoping to avoid. As you fully understand, this is not a thread about a great divide between religion and music, but how they can come together.