Saturday, January 13, 2007

Paul Tillich's Theology of Indie Rock V

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.

Paul Tillich developed his theology of art, that I have applied to rock, partly in order to address the notion that art had to have a clearly religious content to be considered religious (see this post.) This can the be applied to music as well.

I'm under the impression that the commercial success of "Contemporary Christian Music" peaked a few years ago. I could be wrong, I am completely disinterested in this kind of music. Still, much of this kind of "Christian music" for me seems to be completely irreligious in character. If we use Tillich's scheme, this kind of music, while having a religious Inhalt, it is not Gehalt-oriented, but oriented towards form. There seems to be a will to create a Christian alternative to whatever is playing on the radio. This means that the attitude that Tillich considers particularly religious is lacking: Form does not serve the Gehalt but is itself the focus.

Of course, it would be absurd to state that a religious Inhalt makes it impossible to consider a piece of music truly religious. And I am sure we can find plenty of examples of music where the lyrics religious in content, and where the deeper Gehalt dictates the form of the song. (One example, though definitely not CCR, is Brompton Oratory by Nick Cave - incidently also a proof that you can make music on those cheap Casio Keyboards, as this Youtube clip shows...) The point is, and this is what is important: if you limit yourself to only opening yourself up to art and music with a Christian Inhalt, you are likely to miss out on much of true spiritual value.

In the final part of this series I will offer some final thoughts on the nature of this experience, and suggest that this kind of theology can actually be very important in our time.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

a nice addition to the series, especialy the inhalt/gehalt distinction as it relates to music.