Music and Religion/Music as Religion

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from devildavid. Show devildavid's posts

    Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    The latest thread on David Bowie's controversial video has spurred me to start this thread on a topic that has been simmering on my back burner for a while. Before I get into the topic, i think it would help to give a little bit of my personal background and my point of view today.

    I was raised in a very by the book religious Catholic family. It wasn't overly strict, but religious faith was something that my parents always would be a lifetime commitment. My path diverged, and today I follow no religion. I hesitate to put a label on myself, so let's just say that my philosophy is to be sure I never make anything into a religion, especially religion.

    That being said, I never let religious content in music affect whether or not I enjoy it. Handel's Messiah is a prime example of this. I find this music exciting, moving, and uplifting. Music can also have this same inspirational effect without any reference to religion. Music can be so important to one's emotional well being as to have the same effect as religion has for some. For me, music is one thing that comes as close to religious experience as I will get.

    Here is a song by Alison Krauss, "In the Palm of Your Hand", which I enjoy very much even though i don't share the beliefs espoused in some of the lyrics. But the overall meaning of the lyrics, combined with the  the beauty of the song, make a meaningful message shine through. Some things in life are much more important than material well being.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SosID4Eo7t4

    I would just like everyone to feel free to share your take on this, whether you are a devoutly religious person or simply value music to the extreme or are anywhere in between.

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    For me, music transcends religion in the same way that art does.  

    Whether it's Al Green or Raphael, any religious motivations of the creator are not as important to me as the quality of the creation itself.

     

     

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from devildavid. Show devildavid's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

    For me, music transcends religion in the same way that art does.  

    Whether it's Al Green or Raphael, any religious motivations of the creator are not as important to me as the quality of the creation itself.

     

     



    My view is that religion and all the arts are attempts at transcendance via different paths.

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    Yah, raised in an Irish catholic family.....I got confused in my CCD classes when the priest said "WE are all gods children" and "we are all equal in gods eyes".....ok, so my question at the age of 11 or 12 was - So, girls could be priests too? - I was taken aside and spoken to 1 by a priest on one and told that women serve god in other ways...that has stuck with me to this day. I don't believe in gender biased roles, I don't think women as a gender are "lesser" in any way and that because of this event at the age of 11 or 12 = I opted for the Protestant point of view. When I got married - it was by a female who officiated at the ceremony.  Now that I have a daughter - I don't want her to think she can't go after whatever she wants in her life based on the fact that she's a girl! That's just F'd up. Meanwhile Father Flynn is shtooping little Billy in the rectory and the church hides the crime....but I digress (Sorry, the katholick church is so antiquidated in my book)

    I love music for music and could give a ratz azz if it takes a poke at any religion - it's artistic expression NOT a condemnation of a belief - IMHO

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from devildavid. Show devildavid's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to RogerTaylor's comment:

    Yah, raised in an Irish catholic family.....I got confused in my CCD classes when the priest said "WE are all gods children" and "we are all equal in gods eyes".....ok, so my question at the age of 11 or 12 was - So, girls could be priests too? - I was taken aside and spoken to 1 by a priest on one and told that women serve god in other ways...that has stuck with me to this day. I don't believe in gender biased roles, I don't think women as a gender are "lesser" in any way and that because of this event at the age of 11 or 12 = I opted for the Protestant point of view. When I got married - it was by a female who officiated at the ceremony.  Now that I have a daughter - I don't want her to think she can't go after whatever she wants in her life based on the fact that she's a girl! That's just F'd up. Meanwhile Father Flynn is shtooping little Billy in the rectory and the church hides the crime....but I digress (Sorry, the katholick church is so antiquidated in my book)

    I love music for music and could give a ratz azz if it takes a poke at any religion - it's artistic expression NOT a condemnation of a belief - IMHO



    But how do you feel about music with religious lyrics? Can you enjoy any type of religious music?

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to devildavid's comment:

     

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

     

    For me, music transcends religion in the same way that art does.  

    Whether it's Al Green or Raphael, any religious motivations of the creator are not as important to me as the quality of the creation itself.

    My view is that religion and all the arts are attempts at transcendance via different paths.

     

     



    Well, religion is a system of beliefs intended to help explain and/or quantify the supernatural...to provide answers where none exist.

     

    Art and Music CAN be made toward this purpose, or not.  And so music and art can have religious significance, while religion need not use them at all (but usually do, because art and music are universal, as is faith; religion is not).

    I'll grant, however, that all - along with law - are discernably human inventions as old as we are.

    As far as religious themes in music, they don't really bother me, UNLESS (like some people) the songs are predominating in their piety.  That I don't believe in god has no bearing on the lyric or reference to (any) god.  I have heard some so-called "christian rock", and some is ok to a point...but to me, it's just boring and generic and flat for repeated listens.

    I believe it was a joke in the Simpsons that said the only difference between a christian rock group and regular rock group is changing "jesus" lyrics to "baby".  Sounds about right to me.

    In all, I take it about as seriously as references to the devil or space aliens.  And sometimes a hook is just a hook.

     

     

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    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?  Smile

    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.   

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbgfQ48hWuY

    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.   

     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from ZILLAGOD. Show ZILLAGOD's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    I'll use the words of John Lennon to help with this topic.

    "GOD IS A CONCEPT BY WHICH WE MEASURE OUR PAIN, I'LL SAY IT AGAIN, GOD IS A CONCEPT BY WHICH WE MEASURE OUR PAIN.

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN MAGIC

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN I-CHING

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN BIBLE

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN TAROT

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN HITLER

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN JESUS

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN KENNEDY

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN BUDDHA

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN GITA

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOGA ( WELL , HE'S NOT TALKING ABOUT OUR FRIEND, OF COURSE)

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN KINGS

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN ELVIS

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN ZIMMERMAN

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN BEATLES

    I JUST BELIEVE IN ME...YOKO AND ME...AND THAT'S REALITY.

     

    No one could have said it better. Absolutley one of the greatest songs about religious belief ever written.

     

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from devildavid. Show devildavid's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    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?  Smile

    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.   

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbgfQ48hWuY

    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.

     

     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from Hfxsoxnut. Show Hfxsoxnut's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    XTC handled the issue of religion so skillfully with Dear God.  There is a perfect ambiguity in the way it complains to God and questions his existence simultaneously.

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    How about the new Black Sabbath song 'God is Dead'?  Hilariously over the top, as you might expect.

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    This post was another accident.

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

        Some of you probably remember when the religion theme was a  minor fad (for lack of a better term) back in the early 70's when the musicals Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar were released. 

    While I'm certainly not religious,I choose to listen to music for it's artistry rather than political,social or religious content for the most part.How could I not like John Lennon's "Imagine"or George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord".

     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from RogerTaylor. Show RogerTaylor's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to devildavid's comment:

    In response to RogerTaylor's comment:

     

    Yah, raised in an Irish catholic family.....I got confused in my CCD classes when the priest said "WE are all gods children" and "we are all equal in gods eyes".....ok, so my question at the age of 11 or 12 was - So, girls could be priests too? - I was taken aside and spoken to 1 by a priest on one and told that women serve god in other ways...that has stuck with me to this day. I don't believe in gender biased roles, I don't think women as a gender are "lesser" in any way and that because of this event at the age of 11 or 12 = I opted for the Protestant point of view. When I got married - it was by a female who officiated at the ceremony.  Now that I have a daughter - I don't want her to think she can't go after whatever she wants in her life based on the fact that she's a girl! That's just F'd up. Meanwhile Father Flynn is shtooping little Billy in the rectory and the church hides the crime....but I digress (Sorry, the katholick church is so antiquidated in my book)

    I love music for music and could give a ratz azz if it takes a poke at any religion - it's artistic expression NOT a condemnation of a belief - IMHO

     



    But how do you feel about music with religious lyrics? Can you enjoy any type of religious music?

     




    Yah, religious music like  "Imagine" or "What If God Was One of Us"...all good. I don't seek out religious lyrics per say but if I hear something I like I don't care if it's religious or not. How do I feel? indifferent

     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from RogerTaylor. Show RogerTaylor's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to ZILLAGOD's comment:

    I'll use the words of John Lennon to help with this topic.

    "GOD IS A CONCEPT BY WHICH WE MEASURE OUR PAIN, I'LL SAY IT AGAIN, GOD IS A CONCEPT BY WHICH WE MEASURE OUR PAIN.

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN MAGIC

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN I-CHING

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN BIBLE

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN TAROT

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN HITLER

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN JESUS

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN KENNEDY

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN BUDDHA

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN GITA

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOGA ( WELL , HE'S NOT TALKING ABOUT OUR FRIEND, OF COURSE)

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN KINGS

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN ELVIS

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN ZIMMERMAN

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN BEATLES

    I JUST BELIEVE IN ME...YOKO AND ME...AND THAT'S REALITY.

     

    No one could have said it better. Absolutley one of the greatest songs about religious belief ever written.

     




     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to mrmojo1120's comment:

     

        Some of you probably remember when the religion theme was a  minor fad (for lack of a better term) back in the early 70's when the musicals Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar were released

    While I'm certainly not religious,I choose to listen to music for it's artistry rather than political,social or religious content for the most part.How could I not like John Lennon's "Imagine"or George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord".

     



    Good point mentioning JCS and Godspell. Great music, songs. Both shows worked well because neither came across as preachy or overly religious imo. The music was the star, not religion. Was it the intent of the writers to convey religious overtones given that both depict Jesus's final hours, not sure. I just see it as a backdrop for some fantastic music. To me it was much more of a cultural experience rather than anything else. Though it may mean something totally different to others.

     

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to mrmojo1120's comment:

        Some of you probably remember when the religion theme was a  minor fad (for lack of a better term) back in the early 70's when the musicals Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar were released.

    Very true.  

    Broadway has had a flirtation with musicals with religious themes for a long time.  I had a list ready to post a day or so ago, but I had a glitch, and lost it.   I'll add a few more now.    

    In addition to JC Superstar and Godspell:

    The Sound of Music
    Sister Act
    Fiddler on the Roof
    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    The Book of Mormon
    Wicked
    The Lion King (has religious symbolism)
    Les Mis  (ditto)
    Porgy and Bess (religion is one theme)
    etc.

    This is music, so we'll stick with that, but in film, there are dozens and dozens of examples.  Same with tv: Sally Field has never lived down her role as the Flying Nun.  :)  I used to love a TV show called "Joan of Arcadia" that was a takeoff on the theme of Joan of Arc.  

    It's a theme that may keep some people from buying tickets, but the overwhelming success of these musicals does illustrate the religious  theme doesn't hinder the success rate, and that most people attend for the whole experience, and don't let the religious theme stand in their way.  It's a matter of where the viewer puts the emphasis.  

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to ZILLAGOD's comment:

    I'll use the words of John Lennon to help with this topic.

     

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN TAROT

     

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOGA ( WELL , HE'S NOT TALKING ABOUT OUR FRIEND, OF COURSE)

    No offense taken.  Wink

    For Tarot: I took a course in reading Tarot cards (it was a phase). 

    I have two decks of Tarot cards (there are different types).  One deck is very spooky.   The instructor was a social worker (by day) and very, very intelligent.   She told us that most people go for a Tarot reading when they are in crisis, and to never give a threatening response via Tarot cards; the role of a reader is to be compassionate.   Her social work background fit in well with her philosophy.   Basically, she said to always put a positive "spin" on the reading, no matter what combination of cards comes up.   

    Is it fake?   Or fate?   You decide?   All I can say is it's fun.   There's always some truth in the cards. I haven't done a reading in ages.  

    Do you want me to do a reading for you?  Or is it against your religion?    Laughing



     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    The original Jesus Christ Superstar studio album is fantastic.  It's somewhat overlooked as a classic album, in fact.

     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from devildavid. Show devildavid's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    Here is one of my favorite songs that deals with religious belief. I like that it is a low-key, modest song and doesn't make a big statement. I also like that it acknowledges the mystery of life, which in my mind accounts for the popularity of religion as well as the arts. We are always looking for answers, especially to the big questions of our existence.

    Iris Dement - Let the Mystery Be

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlaoR5m4L80

     

     

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to yogafriend's comment:

    In response to ZILLAGOD's comment:

     

    I'll use the words of John Lennon to help with this topic.

     

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN TAROT

     

    I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOGA ( WELL , HE'S NOT TALKING ABOUT OUR FRIEND, OF COURSE)

     

     

    No offense taken.  Wink

    For Tarot: I took a course in reading Tarot cards (it was a phase). 

    I have two decks of Tarot cards (there are different types).  One deck is very spooky.   The instructor was a social worker (by day) and very, very intelligent.   She told us that most people go for a Tarot reading when they are in crisis, and to never give a threatening response via Tarot cards; the role of a reader is to be compassionate.   Her social work background fit in well with her philosophy.   Basically, she said to always put a positive "spin" on the reading, no matter what combination of cards comes up.   

    Is it fake?   Or fate?   You decide?   All I can say is it's fun.   There's always some truth in the cards. I haven't done a reading in ages.  

    Do you want me to do a reading for you?  Or is it against your religion?    Laughing






    "I stayed up late playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died."...one my favorite Steven Wright jokes.

     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds is probably my most favorite, most recent example of a religion-inspired album...

    ...but it ain't exactly sunday school.

    Likewise, the very recent solo album by Jim James, "Regions of Light and Sound of God", is excellent, but I would say more spiritual then religious even given the source material.

    Faith can be a powerful tool (or cudgel) for a songwriter.

     

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to devildavid's comment:

     

    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 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.

     

    Thanks, DD.  I think you and I are on the same page here.  It's not easy to explain my lack of religious orientation, and still feel as I do about some religion-centric works of art.  I tried to stay on topic, and keep the correct focus.  It's not that I don't have other opinions, and issues re: religion on the whole.  I have a few ... I've been commenting this past week in the Globe re: Sean O'Malley's "boycott" of the Boston College commencement, in fact.   Ugh to that. 

    With music and the arts in general, I am surprisingly open. However, I have a breaking point, too.     (example:  I went to a yoga workshop with a nationally recognized yoga instructor, and at the end of the workshop, she began singing, "Livin on a Prayer" -- and asked us all to join in.   I was aghast.  I am laughing about it now, but at the time, I sat there in disbelief -- feeling very cynical -- and ticked off).   BTW, last night the last song in my interval training class was "Gotta Have Faith" that starts with organ church-like music -- awful song.    Eventhough I was on my last legs at the end of the workout, I laughed out loud when I heard the song.   :)

    I've evolved over time.   Many times I had to go into a Catholic church (two of my uncles married Catholic women, and I had many cousins raised in that religion) and found it exceedingly eerie.  The rituals were intense and foreign, and regimented.  I used to laugh in church quite a bit, in fact.  :)   It wasn't until I got older that I began to see a church as a building, and in some cases, quite beautiful.  Same with the paintings and sculptures that I was able to see through different eyes, that had at one time irked me.   I'm the product of a liberal arts education and inter-faith marriage, and was very positively, and progressively influenced by my mother.   Then there's my brother ... the most irreverant person you'd ever want to meet, no boundaries, and no holds barred; you'd never know we're related.  :)  Anyhow, thanks.  

     

     
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    Re: Music and Religion/Music as Religion

    In response to GreginMeffa's comment:

    For me, music transcends religion in the same way that art does. 

    -----------------------

    And vice versa.

    For eg., I believe Bach's B Minor Mas and Michelangelo's Pieta are expressions of such deep and abounding faith that is beyond the comprehension of we mere mortals.

     



    And yet in the end, both were created by mortals.

    Would the Pieta be as much of a masterpiece to a viewer who knew nothing of the gospels?  Personally, I say yes.  Others' mileage may vary.

     

     

     

     

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