In recent Youtube videos Cornwell and I have discussed various topics relating to religion. Today, we were talking on the telephone about the many parallels between Christian church services and club nights.
It strikes me that the similarities are compelling. They don’t make sense from a religious viewpoint, of course – the idea that clubs, in which people meet, dance, shout, take mind-altering substances and cop off with each other are similar to churches would be offensive to many believers.
But believers are wrong, and the parallels between church and nightclub definitely make sense from a humanist, anthropological or otherwise scientific persepective:
- Individuals assemble weekly in a group with a shared subculture
- They execute movements and listen to sounds which they have trained themselves to know and love, which change the way they feel about the world, and which mark them out as a discrete social group
- Clubbers like to do each other in the toilets, while the Catholic church has struggled deflect or talk down dozens of allegations of sexual abuse by its clergy of members of the congregation.
Viewed from this comparative viewpoint, it’s not qualitatively what happens that separates churches from nightclubs – it’s more a question of how much these things happen, the order in which they take place and where in the layouts of the venues (pews = dancefloor, pulpit = DJ booth, organ = sound system, vestry = toilet cubicle).
It crossed our minds that Christian raves and Christian dance music must either already exist, or be about to happen, so we did a cursory Google search and lo, it came to pass:
And here is a “trance remix” of a song published by Hillsong, the australian pentecostal megachurch:
Several thoughts cross my mind in relation to these videos.
First among them, of course, is the observation: “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
But putting that to one side, do you notice how the Christian rave is at first glance similar to a secular rave, but, looking more closely, is subtlely yet obviously inferior in all regards? This is another reason for christians to be hesitant to accept fully rave culture into their religious practices – raves provide a possible portal through which churches might lose members, since they are like church services, but louder, longer, brighter, more honest, and with better sacrament.
Imagine turning up at a church, where believers are repeatedly told that flaccid, psychoactively inert flour wafers and weak, vinegar-like communion wine will cause them to become one with their God, and handing out a load of magic mushrooms. “Fuck, there’s no distinction between self and the world outside my body, and my mind is an expression of the natural workings of the whole universe. There is no life, no death, either everything-including-me or nothing is god, and both amount to the same thing!” That would challenge the world-view of at least a few parishioners, I imagine.
Update 12 July 2009
There can be only one reason I didn’t include the following video in this post, the reason being that it makes all my points perfectly in 3 minutes, thus removing the point of me having made my post in the first place.
10 Comments to Religion and Electronic Dance Music
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Do you have any appalling early attempts at making electronic music? Can we broadcast them?
Send your rubbish tunes