Showing posts from June, 2005

Bad taste is not morally neutral

A colleague of mine here in Waiapu recently sent this out in his mailing. I think it is a really interesting. It captures some of my frustration with what is offered young people. Not so much bad taste, but shallow. Anyway give it a read, and let me know what you think.

Bad taste is not morally neutral

In a conversation about liturgy, Australian Cistercian monk Michael Casey made reference to the 1960s writing of Richard Egecenter, The Desecration of Christ, that "bad taste is not morally neutral". This was music to my ears, and I have now tracked down a copy of the book. Egecenter's assertion reminded me of early twentieth-century wood engraver Eric Gill's "bad taste is the worst heresy". Fr Michael's point was that if good liturgy forms the people of God, it follows that bad liturgy - including rubbish music - deforms.  And deforming the faith community cannot be considered morally neutral.

Some hard things have been said and written about churches and …

Musical Theology

One of the interesting things about the Methodists is that their theology is in their music. Not many would know what John Wesley thought, but Charles Wesley's theology is in his hymns, which are still sung every Sunday, and which still shape the ordinary Methodist's theology today. If you want to know what Methodist theology is, then sing Charles's hymns, and you will soon have it. And that theology had a depth to it that much music today just doesn't have. And it has shaped peoples faith far more than the preachers could ever hope to because people saung those words over and over again. It was and active type of learning, not passive which listening to a preacher is. And when people needed guidance or comforting, or a wise word, it was Charles's hymns they remembered, not the great sermons of John or any other great methodist preacher.
The same is true today. Only we don't take the care that John and Charles took to craft good theology in our music. Instead w…


I have been reading John Drane’s the McDonaldization of the Church. While discussing the impact of drama in worship, he quotes Albert Mehrabian’s research on where the impact comes from in a message. 7% comes from the words, 38% from vocal symbols (tone of voice, pace, pause, pitch, tune etc…) and 55% from non verbal signals – body language. He likens this to the ancient Chinese proverb of “I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand.” I think this has some profoundly important things to say about the role music plays in developing peoples theology in much of what is offered in teaching and worship today. In the current sing and listen worship style done by Pentecostals, and offered to young people “because that is what they want”, the assumption is that the preached word is where they learn. I think this is way off the mark. Most people’s theology is being formed by the music sung, especially since it is usually the same songs sung week after week, event after event. Is t…

Raising the Drinking Age?

There is a big push for the drinking age to be raised. Various organisations tell us the majority of NZ’ers support this move. And I guess anyone who works for or with young people, especially if they are church based would be expected to agree with this too.

Surprisingly then, I do not support the raising of the minimum drinking age to 20.


Because I do not see how it will do anything to address the issues it purports to solve. It will simply punish 18 + 19 year olds, who have not been a problem, as far as I have read.

The issue seems to be an increase in alcohol use and misuse among the younger adolescent age group. And this is a concern. But instead of jumping on to simple answers, we do need to ask why young people are binge drinking? What is it about adult society and being adult that they are imitating? This is a hard question that most adults are simply not willing to ask, and so we go for the soft option. Matt Robson’s Bill does address this issue insofar as it offers chang…

It has been a very busy month

It has been a month since I blogged, again!

Partly I have been too busy, and partly I have this notion in my head that I need to have fully developed arguments before I stick stuff up. I need to get into the rhythm of developing stuff as I go.

In that month I have been to the Praxis conference on Alternative Futures in Wellington, tagged with a PADYS meeting. These get better and better, and show how important relationships are. It was great doing some serious input stuff for the first day, which was added to by one of the Youth Staff who showed us some stuff he has been working on on how to reach the under 35’s. Stimulating, thought provoking stuff. I really enjoyed it. It also showed up how inadequate my current budget is for running these meetings!

I have just been to Nelson for four days. Partly meeting. Partly offering training. Steve Taylor was also there, doing a session on Film and Gospel, and DJ’ing culture and gospel. I had heard it all before, but it was great to hear it agai…