Monday, July 11, 2011

Rockin' Religiosity

I have a co-worker, we'll call him Ben, who is quite the religious fellow. If you ask him how his week was, he'd tell you right out the gate about how the Wednesday service at church was 'full of the Holy Spirit' with lots of 'casting out of demons.'  You'll usually hear that the pastor had a 'powerful message' that 'challenged the soul.' You certainly couldn't go a day without hearing how 'God had changed' his life, and nary an hour without hearing that something was a 'blessing' or 'gift' from 'God.'

Ben is a Protestant Christian, in case you didn't gather. Pentecostal or maybe one of those random Southern Baptist sub-denominations. You know those movies set in the Bible Belt where you would see a church filled with people yelling hallelujah and someone would faint and someone else would have seizures in the aisle or start speaking gibberish? Yeah? That's not fiction. Those places and people actually exist.

Scary, I know. Scary that people get so worked up and excited about something that has no scientific basis whatsoever. Other than mass hysteria and herd mentality, of course, but I don't think that's what they're going for. Scary that such madness is a lynchpin of their life. It informs how they think (or don't think) about science, how they vote on things like gay marriage (against), and how they deal with their fellow human beings (with pity for the unsaved).

But then I got to thinking... Have you ever been to a rock concert? The kind where the band comes back for three encores because the crowd is cheering so hard? Where there's a mosh-pit up front that could turn into a bloody riot and everyone is chanting the band's name to get five more minutes of stage-time? Sounds a bit like something else I've heard of...

It kind of adds up. Where else are you going to hear people yelling 'do me!' (or 'save me!') at the top of their lungs? Speaking in tongues or rock 'n' roll screams? Hand-waving to 'Amazing Grace' or lighter-waving to 'Bohemian Rhapsody'?

In these kinds of churches people rush to the front at the end to be saved (or 'meet Lord Jesus'). At the end of concerts you rush to the front to meet the band. Wear your Sunday best, wear a rock shirt. Pay a tithe, buy a ticket and shirt. A bit too far on that last one? Probably.

I definitely won't go so far as to say buying over-priced liquor is like taking communion. Communion wine is the worst.

Kind of odd, though, the similarities between a 'sincere' religious service and a 'for fun' rock concert. You'd almost think that both were just different forms of community and entertainment, based around a similar interest. But you'd be wrong.

Because my taste in bands doesn't influence my views on science, equal rights, or the non-existent state of people's afterlife. If it did, then I think I'd qualify as a hipster.

And then you'd have to kill me.

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