Music and spirituality

/ 21 March 2007

Music carries key meaning for people in their experiences and construction of spirituality. Bill McGarvey has an eloquent essay in the UK Tablet where he speaks to this point. Some excerpts:

"It is a strange feeling today to be part of a faith community whose leadership does not seem to value the cultural sensibilities of a considerable portion of its flock. For a Pope who has such a deep devotion to the works of such a classical giant as Mozart to have so little appreciation for one of the most important figures in twentieth- and twenty-first-century music is troubling and points to a lack of understanding of the scores of spiritual seekers - of which Dylan is a charter member - whose faith journeys might be somewhat messy. Benedict's apparent suspicion of popular culture is a sad reminder that the Church sometimes has a tin ear with regard to the endless ways that the Holy Spirit continually operates within culture to help us recognise the sacred in the most unexpected places."


"In retrospect, although I was raised a Catholic, I now realise that my first religious experience came through music. I had no illusions that any of the artists who moved me were "prophets", much less gods. I did however have a sense that through them I was able to catch some refracted ray of truth - something universal that can be hinted at only in great works of art.

Fortunately for many of us whose faith journeys don't follow a script, Pope Benedict's new book doesn't carry the same weight as the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), which so wisely and eloquently stated in its preface: "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age ... these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts." If ever there was an artist who spoke to the joys, hopes, griefs and anxieties of the men of this age Bob Dylan would be it."