Giving Culture a Voice in Church: An Exploration of Popular Music and Holy Scripture Open Access

Hagan, Ebb (Spring 2020)

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The proposition being put forth to be tested by this project is the following: exploring non-Christian popular music alongside Scripture can facilitate dialogue to increase understanding about how God may be working beyond the Christian community and thereby challenge insular conceptions of church.

This project proceeds on the supposition that popular music provides a way to understand those alienated from the church. Music can be a way to peer into the hopes and concerns of persons outside of the church environments. Composers and recording artists of popular music become, in some measure at least, unique representatives and interpreters of culture existing outside of the walls of the church. Of course, the role of popular music in culture is complicated. The same song is inspiring and beautiful to one person while simultaneously interpreted as profane or vulgar by another. Often differences of opinion or taste exist within the same subcultural group. Indeed, the perceived vulgarity of some popular music is what makes it compelling to certain consumers of music. More to the point, popular music can be compelling, inspiring, repulsive, uniting, and/or controversial depending upon many complex factors of social location, personal taste, and moral sensibility. This project will attempt to "bring popular music to church" as an experiment to see if popular music, with all its complexity, can help people of First United Methodist Church of Chipley (FL) become more open to those who are alienated from the hegemonic cultural Christianity of our community.

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